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Nonprofit assists Utah pet owners struggling with housing costs, animal fees

Posted at 5:19 PM, Jun 12, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY — A new non-profit organization in Utah wants to help pet owners who struggle to afford housing costs and fees for their animals. It's an issue affecting the housing industry in the state, as well as shelters that are over capacity.

Many shelters across Utah are running out of room, and one of the many reasons is because of owners having to surrender their cats or dogs because pet fees and deposits are too high.

"To me, I cannot imagine the choice you’d have to make to either have housing or keep your pet," said Andrea Schaefer, founder of Tailwinds Rental Assistance.

Schaefer sees pets as family and wants to keep families together with her new organization which will cover pet-related move-in fees and deposits that can cost up to hundreds of dollars per pet.

On a temporary basis, Ruff Haven Crisis Sheltering also takes in animals for those experiencing housing instability and other crises.

"We’re able to take their pets, and we’re able to reunify them after 60-to-ninety-ish days," explained Marisa Hernandez, co-executive director of Ruff Haven.

Hernandez believes Tailwinds, which launched this month, will be gamechangers for struggling families.

"Even just the one person, helping this one family, is so rewarding. Makes everything worth it," said Schaefer.

The pet assistance isn’t something that owners can just sign up for, they must first fill out a form that’s submitted by a caseworker who works with a social services organization.