By Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – There’s a new initiative to help pets, by helping pet owners during the coronavirus pandemic. The Animal Rescue League Boston has started the “Keep Pets S.A.F.E” program. And it’s making a difference in three Boston neighborhoods.

It’s the start of another busy day at the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s Dedham care center. The team is loading a van from a well-stocked warehouse, filled with pet food and supplies, ready for delivery. “Really the crux of the program is to keep pets and their families together,” says Mike Defina from the Animal Rescue League of Boston.

The effort delivers pet food to pet owners who qualify in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan. “We’re doing our best to help absolutely anyone that doesn’t have the means right now to go out and get pet food because sometimes you lose your job, your kids are home from school and you’re not able to go out and get everything you need,” says Anna Chaletzki a member of the League’s field services team making the deliveries.

Animal Rescue League of Boston delivers pet food during coronavirus crisis (WBZ-TV)

Like Tara in Dorchester. She has two dogs and a cat and is out of work. “I called this morning and they told me it was a Tuesday drop off, and she called me back and said your stuff would be here today,” she said.

As part of the program, the Animal Rescue League of Boston will also shelter a pet temporarily if the owner is sick or just not able to care for their pet. They will even transport the animal to a veterinarian. “We were able to pick up those animals, bring them to Dedham to get the services they needed, and then bring them back to their owners. And that was free of charge,” Defina said.

“It’s a hard time, and we understand that. So we’re doing the best we can to really help as many people as we can,” added Chaletzki.

To qualify, pet owners must be a client of Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), Boston Senior Home Care and the Animal Rescue League’s Wellness Waggin’.

For more information visit: www.arlboston.org/safe/

Paula Ebben

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