The holidays are the perfect time to add a four-legged member to your household. But if you want to get a cat or dog, stay away from pet stores, and instead go to your local shelter where there are dozens of animals just waiting to be taken home and loved. Pet stores often get their dogs from puppy mills, which are notorious for breeding animals that are often sick or in some way deformed.

Kayte Mulligan is from Fairfield and her partner, Kristy Morrell, is from Stamford. Both are vet techs who always wanted to have a small animal rescue operation after seeing the stress animals experience in a large shelter.

So a few months ago, they started Project Precious Rescue in Bridgeport, and are now on their way to becoming a recognized 501(c)(3). The organization grew out of Kayte's dog-sitting business, which she started in 2006. They have found that shelters are now filled with animals given up by their owners because they can no longer afford to have a pet.

Project Precious Rescue doesn't run a shelter. Instead, Kayte and Kristy go to the Bridgeport Animal Shelter and find animals that would benefit from foster care before being adopted.

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"We realized that foster care is less stressful for animals, while allowing us to get to know the animals better so we can find a forever home for them," Kayte said.

They currently have 12 dogs and three cats in foster care including Grandpa, a Shizu mixed dog, whose owner died. Grandpa was rescued by animal control after a neighbor heard him barking because he was left alone in the apartment. He has cancer and a skin infection. Despite that, he is a wonderful, loving little dog, who desperately needs a good home. Grandpa, pictured here, is available for adoption by contacting Project Precious Rescue by email at

Kayte is proud of its record of more than 20 successful adoptions. They rely on word of mouth for donations as well as their friends on their Facebook page. But they are in urgent need of more foster parents for many of the cats and dogs languishing in shelters. So if you can't adopt, contact them and foster a cat or dog. It's a way to find out if you and your family are ready to become full-time pet owners.

"We started Project Precious Rescue because we wanted all the focus to be on the animals," Kayte said. I applaud what they are doing because I have four rescue dogs and know what a difference they have made in my life. If you can't foster or adopt, consider making a small donation to this new organization.

Cathy Kangas is a member of the board of directors of the Humane Society of the United States. She can be reached at