PAWS is looking for foster homes for pets over the holidays.

An area pet shelter is hoping families will consider bringing a dog home for the holidays — and then bring it back.

PAWS Tinley Park, a no-kill, non-profit animal shelter, is once again offering “Home for the Paw-lidays,” a program in which families who cannot travel during the holiday season have been, can promote one of them. Shelter pets from December 22nd to January 2nd.

PAWS Tinley Park provides foster families with pet food, a leash, blanket, crate and other necessities, while local families, in turn, provide love and support for an animal in need.

PAWS Tinley Park President Terry Buckley said the “Home for the Paw-lidays” program has been a success since it started a few years ago.

“It has always worked well,” he said.

Buckley said the program helps shelter volunteers return to their families more quickly for the Christmas and New Year holidays because there are fewer animals in the shelter.

The pets get to sleep and play in a comfortable home instead of a cage, and many are later adopted, she said. This fits particularly well with the organization’s mission that saving one homeless animal may not save the world, but that one homeless animal will change the world forever.

Buckley said foster families can also learn whether or not they are interested in pet ownership.

Buckley said that for dogs that are returned to the shelter after the program ends, PAWS Tinley Park asks foster families several questions about the pet’s experience, such as how the animal behaved, ate and Hear the order. The shelter is also interested in knowing how the pet interacts with children or other pets.

All the information is valuable to learn more about the pet and can help it get adopted faster.

“Christmas is a time to help and share, and we’re hoping people will give their time to help their local shelter,” Buckley said.

Anyone interested in adopting a holiday pet can fill out an application on the PAWS website, www.pawstinleypark.org.

Foster families must be within a 20-mile radius of the shelter, 8301 W. 191st St.

If they already have pets at home, they need to be up to date on their vaccines, Buckley said.

PAWS Tinley Park strives to match pets with the right families, Buckley said. For example, the organization looks at the age of children along with the age of pets or other foster family members. It also takes into account the pet’s enthusiasm or energy level along with the type of home of the foster family. Older dogs may not do well with young children, Buckley said, and high-energy dogs may not fit into a condo or apartment setting.

Matching a dog with the right foster home gives the dog a better chance of being adopted in the future.

Buckley said adoption is especially important these days.

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Since the COVID-19 pandemic, shelters are housing a record number of animals, Buckley said. Many people who adopted an animal in the early days of the pandemic are abandoning their pets or abandoning them on the streets or in forest preserves, he said.

During the pandemic, some dogs were not protected, which increased the stray population. Buckley said the other dogs were not socialized, leading to frustration as people returned to a normal lifestyle.

PAWS Tinley Park receives about a dozen calls a day from people wanting to give up their animals.

In one instance, a young dog, Maverick, was brought in from the side of the road at the shelter Blue Island after being shot twice in the back. PAWS Tinley Park helped the dog receive necessary surgery and therapy. When Maverick was finally able to walk again, his tail had to be amputated, Buckley said.

PAWS Tinley Park has dogs and cats available for adoption and also maintains a Facebook page to reunite lost pets with their owners.

Organizers believe that when a pet is adopted, it saves both their lives and the animals that replace them at the shelter.

Michelle Mullins is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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