GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — The Guilford County Animal Services got a big grant in order to help keep pets with their families.

Guilford County Animal Services received a $50,000 grant from Maddie’s Fund, a national foundation that is working to transform the way pets are viewed and taken care of.

This grant will allow GCAS to start a pilot program using Human-Animal Support Services, a new animal welfare model that values pets are part of the family. HASS pilot shelters help make sure pets stay with their owners, help lost pets get home and help pet owners meet their pet’s needs.

The need for programs like this became obvious during the pandemic, with concerns that the economic impact of the pandemic could force people to give up their pets.

“Thanks to Maddie’s Fund, this grant will allow us to broaden the safety net for Guilford County residents and their pets. Keeping pets with their families is incredibly important to us and we are thankful for the opportunity to expand our efforts through the HASS pilot program,” said Jorge Ortega, Director of Guilford County Animal Services.

GCAS says that funds will also be used to vaccinate and microchip pets with zero cost to owners.

Maddie’s Fund offers the industry a national voice, important funding opportunities, learning resources and easy access to network connect and share ideas to keep people and pets together.