NEW YORK (PIX11) — Anyone who has a pet knows the struggle of trying to find care when planning a last-minute trip or having to stay at work longer than expected. But what happens when it’s under more serious circumstances and the owner needs to get inpatient treatment for substance use?

“If somebody needs to seek treatment [and] they have a pet but they don’t have someone to take care of their animal, they may delay care [or] they may not seek the treatment that they need,” Rachel Herman, founder of PAWS NY, said. 

PAWS NY is a nonprofit organization that already helps low-income older adults with daily pet-related tasks that they may struggle to do because of an illness or disability. 

“Things like dog walking, cat care, administration of medication, even something as simple as putting out food and water,” Herman said. 

They also help financially with veterinary care and visits.

Their volunteers see clients every single day with the goal of keeping pets and people together as long as possible.

“They’ll talk about their pets being their sole source of companionship, their best friend. Some have even told us [it’s] their reason for waking up every day,” Herman added. “That relationship is what we’re trying to preserve and that’s what we’re doing through all of our programs.”

The organization’s newest program, the Substance Use Recovery Program, provides foster care for the animal while the owner gets healthy so that the owner can return home and reunite with their pet and receive continued support.

“Having a pet in their house can really aid in their recovery and we can see better outcomes because pets can reduce anxiety, stress, depression levels,” Herman added. 

The Substance Use Recovery Program was just announced last week and PAWS NY is still identifying identifying clients. If you know anyone who is in need of inpatient treatment but cannot go because of their pet, you can refer them to the organization and have their animal be cared for while they’re caring for themselves.