AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A Valley nonprofit organization is being highlighted in our Hometown Hero segment this week. The goal of Buster’s Brigade is to help pets stay healthy and out of shelters.

The organization began in 2018 with a mission to help families facing financial challenges as they care for their furry friends

“They are part of your family, and we know what they mean to people. It means a lot that we can do something to help,” said board member Jackie Leviseur.

One of the ways they help is by making vaccines more affordable through vet clinics. The next one is scheduled for April 24.

“We partner with the YSU Prevet Student Society and twice a year we do low-cost vaccination clinics on campus that are open to the community. You can bring your cat or dog and get a rabies shot for $5. You can get your annual shots for $15.,” Leviseur said.

Vet bills often come with a lot of zeros, especially ones involving emergency care. Buster’s Brigade wants to help and help prevent pet owners from having to surrender their furry friend to a shelter when finding themselves in a financial pickle.

“That’s part of our mission. We want to keep pets in their homes. Your pets are part of your family, and we want to help people facing those unforeseen challenges, medical hardships, maybe a death. That last thing we want is for that pet to go into a shelter,” Leviseur said.

An application is available on their website where pet owners who meet financial criteria can apply for aid with emergency or general vet care.

“As of our start in 2018, we’ve provided over $35,000 in vet services. We can’t guarantee we’ll cover the whole cost of the surgery or procedure, but provided the client meets the financial need, we can provide for a portion of it,’ Leviseur said.

So far they have helped fund emergency care for 65 pets, aided in 31 spay and neuters, treated 438 (and counting) at vet clinics, and helped families rehome 48 pets due to various hardships.

The group also works with area food banks to help provide pet food to families facing financial challenges.