Animal rescue needs help to continue mission

Since 2013, Meredith Festa has been running Paws Unite People, a nonprofit that for years has helped abused and neglected dogs and cats from overseas. 

Then following the 2021 Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, Festa, 47, started helping Afghan veterinarians fleeing with their families. 

She has made it this far thanks to generous donors and grants. But now Festa, who has done for others over the past decade, needs help to continue her mission after delays in U.S. visa processing for Afghan refugees and losing a private grant. 

"If I say no, something dies," she said. 

Part of the problem, according to Festa, is that many of the animals aren't easy to adopt right away. For example, a dog named Mr. B was paralyzed after being hit by a car in Vietnam and a dog named Berry was injured in Jordan and has no hind legs.

To add insult to injury, $4,000 in medicine and other supplies were rendered useless after a pipe burst from this weekend's deep freeze. Insurance won't cover the costly repair because Festa doesn't know if she will be able to renew her lease. 

"You can save both — I shouldn't have to close the shelter," she said. "I shouldn't have to choose between a baby and a hurt dog."

Festa said it costs $12,000 a month to run the shelter and another $25,000 to house 200 people. Another grant will take effect at the end of January but until then she's pleading for donations so she can continue to help people and pets. 

"The small acts add up," she said. 

She said she hopes the community can come together to help keep her mission alive