Stephenville, Texas - Stir crazy, lonely, bored, and too much free time is the new normal these days. What better way to cure these feelings than with a new companion?

This is the best time to adopt and foster pets due to the shelter in place in effect in Erath County. The COVID-19 virus is creating an opportunity for rescued pets to find a safe home. Many people will be alone in their homes without social interaction, since the disaster declaration has been extended until May 13. Social isolation can have negative side effects, especially loneliness.

According to the site News in Health’s Human-Animal Interaction Research Program, interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Other studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support and boost your mood.

Pets Are Worth Saving (PAWS) is a non-profit organization in Erath County. The organization helps give temporary shelter to the lost, unwanted, abandoned, and mistreated animals found in the area. It started in Stephenville in 2014, and its main focus is to care for the animals while seeking safe foster homes and permanent homes.

Kaitlyn Ruderer is the president of PAWS and has one paid employee along with a few supportive board members.

Ruderer and the homeless pets have been feeling the negative impact of the social distancing regulations. PAWS is a small rescue and does not have a facility for the potential adopters to visit the available animals. This creates a setback for the animals because there isn’t a public building for people to visit them.

Ruderer relies on adoption events to help find the animals a safe home.

However, due to the social distancing, shelter in place, and no more than 10 people in a gathering, the adoption events have temporally stopped. In the meantime, Ruderer is heavily turning to Facebook to publicize the available pets. The posts lead to meet and greets with the interested adopters and the pet.

PAWS is currently stable, but with each new rescue they take in, their finances slowly deplete. The pandemic is causing their adoptions and regular donations to decrease.

Ruderer urges that if adoption is not the best option for you and your family, then fostering is the way to go. Due to PAWS being a small rescue there isn’t enough room for all of the animals they desire to help. Foster families help free up space and care for the animals until adoption.

Fostering a pet, especially during shelter in place allows for activities like walking, teaching new tricks, and keeping busy while having a companion. Amber Wilson works for PAWS and is currently fostering two dogs along with her three chihuahuas.

“Fostering any time is amazing, because the more people commit to fostering, the more animals we’re able to help.”

As of April 8, PAWS had a total of 10 dogs of all ages and two cats ready to be adopted or find a foster family. In order to continue rescuing unwanted animals, PAWS is in need of available foster homes. The rescued animals are completely vetted which includes spayed/neutered depending on age, up-to-date on shots, and microchipped.

Fortunately, fostering doesn’t cost anything for the host family. PAWS provides all of the vet care, food, and supplies.

Social isolation does not mean being home alone. It can mean a new beneficial opportunity to save a pet. The time spent at home while under the shelter in place, will allow for people to find the right companion and for the pet to have time to adapt.

“This is the best time to learn more about your new companion. Most rescues will offer a “trial run” so you can spend time with the animal and see if they might fit in with you and your lifestyle” says Ruderer, “Rescues like to follow a rule of three. Three days for the dog to start figuring things out, three weeks for them to learn your routine and it takes three months [for them to] become a part of the family.”

If you’re able to donate to help with the animal’s care, please send donations to their P.O. Box at:

P.A.W.S., P.O. Box 1966 Stephenville, TX 76401

Or their PayPal at:

Facebook page: Pets Are Worth Saving, Inc. – PAWS Stephenville