Animals rescued from abuse or neglect in Wagoner County, Oklahoma will soon have the rallying support of their community thanks to a new initiative — called the Badges and Paws Program — which will place seized animals in foster homes with compassionate volunteers.

The new program is the work of Wagoner County Sheriff’s Office employee Casey Rivers, who wanted to do more to help dogs and cats in the small county, according to local news. While the sheriff’s office receives numerous calls regarding animal abuse and neglect, the department says it is not equipped to care for the animals once removed from the harmful situations.

“We don’t have anywhere to put them; the rescues are full,” Casey Rivers told local news.

Through the new Badges and Paws Program, community members can open their homes to animals in need by volunteering as foster guardians. They can also volunteer to help coordinate rapid responses to animal abuse cases — such as scheduling veterinary appointments and arranging transportation.

The Badges and Paws Program will alleviate stress placed on the community’s rescues — which are already overwhelmed and often unable to take in animals. Animals removed from cruel situations often wait several days for the shelter and care that they need. Volunteers in the Badges and Paws Program will be able to respond to emergency animal neglect/abuse cases immediately — getting animals the help they need without delay.

Foster volunteers will not only help save lives — they may help traumatized animals recover and find their forever homes more quickly. Victims of animal cruelty often need extra gentle, one-on-one care in a calm environment to learn to trust again.

It’s not only dogs and cats that the Badges and Paws Program will help: The program will seek foster homes to take in horses, cows, and other animals that rescue shelters aren’t always equipped to help.

Under the Badges and Paws Program, the sheriff’s office is also creating an account for tax-deductible financial donations and places to donate food, food bowls, bedding, medical supplies, treats, and all the other supplies that dogs and cats could need in foster care. The Wagoner County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #228 started the program off with a $500 donation.

Lady Freethinker applauds the Wagoner County Sheriff’s Department and the community of animal lovers willing to take collective action for animals through the Badges and Paws Program.