Did you know that over 6 million dogs and cats enter shelters each year ?
Shelters are always fighting an uphill battle for resources, the scarcest of which is space. Donations can cover food and vet bills but there is only so much space and adding any is a huge (and expensive) undertaking. In “No Kill” shelters the only way they can open up more space is to adopt out dogs or place dogs in foster homes.
Have you ever thought about fostering dogs? Unsure if it’s right for you? Well, we’ve consulted a seasoned foster dog mom and she’s got all the answers to the questions you’ve always wanted to ask!
Meet Sarah, our Corporate Executive Chef and General Manager at Three Dog Bakery Kansas City on the Country Club Plaza. She has been fostering dogs for 3 years now and is excited to share her journey as doggie foster mom in the hopes of spreading the word and encouraging more people to foster.
Sarah didn’t grow up with dogs; in fact, her family didn’t even have a dog until she was in high school, a shih-tzu named Gizmo. After living happily with her 2 dogs, Lexi Jo and Bruiser, Sarah and her husband decided to adopt another fur child into their home. They brought home Newman, a boxer that had been very abused and mistreated. In fact, he had been so badly abused that he was unable to transition into a normal home. They worked with several behaviorists and trainers but they were not able to help their Newman adjust. This experience lit a fire within Sarah’s heart and they started searching for ways to help dogs and honor Newman.
After losing Newman, Sarah got involved with Chain of Hope, a local animal rescue in Kansas City. About 2 months later, after getting to know the founder, she saw a Facebook post looking for foster care for a litter of puppies. Sarah took in two and the rest is history. These 5 week old puppies didn’t sleep through the night, had to be fed several times a day, and peed and pooed literally everywhere. It was a challenge and required a lot of time and dedication but Sarah and her husband were on a mission to change the lives of dogs! After fostering 15 dogs, she has begun to heal the heartbreak she suffered after losing a dog that she loved so dearly.
The Good, the Bad, and the Wonderful
When most people think about fostering the part that holds them back is the good-bye. How can you bring an animal into your home, love them and teach them that people really can be good, then say good-bye without a piece of your heart going with them? According to Sarah you never really get used to it. She says that there are always tears involved, sometimes for days, but you have to take solace in the idea that you have done good in the world and have given a dog the gift of a life well-loved, even if it isn’t with you. Seeing a dog go home with their new forever family and never look back may be tough but when you think about the fact that the same dog was scared and alone just a few months earlier, you can’t help but feel proud of what they’ve overcome and want to help another.
The most heart wrenching part for Sarah is when she gets a dog that has been abused. You get angry at the people who could treat an animal that way and feel no regret or guilt. That’s the hard part. “It’s hard to see something like that and not have it harden your heart a little bit,” says Sarah. But you have to focus on the dog, not the people in his or her past, and funnel that emotion into your dedication to rehabilitating and loving that animal.
Success stories are what make it all worth it. Scuba Steve was brought in to the KC Pet Project on Halloween night. He had been hit by a car and left. After a quick exam it was determined that his back right leg was shattered and his pelvis had been fractured. He had his leg amputated and was fit with a cart to help him get around while his pelvis healed. Sarah and her husband took him in and worked tirelessly on his physical therapy, taking him appointments for both water therapy and laser therapy and helping him strengthen his hind end so he could learn to walk on his own again. Under the watchful eye and loving dedication of Sarah and her husband, he is now able to walk without assistance and is up for adoption and looking for his forever home!
Photo Credit: Kasi Orr with Reames photography
Update: Thanks to Sarah’s hard work along with the whole KC Pet Project team, Scuba Steve was adopted by a loving family who absolute adore him! Congratulations Steve!
The Perfect Place
If you have considered fostering and decided against it simply because you don’t think your home would be ideal, perhaps you should reconsider. Sarah tells us that the perfect foster home is simply one with responsible pet parents with a love for dogs and a dedication to make a difference. Not all foster dogs have been abused or need special care. There are tons of dogs that simply get stressed in a shelter environment but would excel in a home making them more adoptable and leaving a place at the shelter for another dog in need. Like the saying goes, “If you wait too long for the perfect moment, the perfect moment will pass you by.”
Fostering doesn’t have to be costly either. It varies by location but, in Sarah’s case, the cost of medical care is covered by the shelter. They also have the option of getting dog food from the shelter, however, she chooses to feed the fosters the same food they feed their own fur babies to make life easier on them and to keep the food at the shelters for other dogs in need.
Benefits of Fostering (For dogs and you!)
- A dog in a foster home leaves a kennel open at the shelter for another dog in need
- Foster owners get to know the dog’s personality, helping the shelter place them in the perfect home
- Dogs in foster care are socialized more and adapt better to life in a home increasing their chances for adoption
- The foster owner can learn about different breeds if they are considering adoption
- You can write off expenses (like dog food) on your taxes
The best way to get involved is to contact your shelter and ask questions. Be honest about your reservations and see what you can do! Don’t take on anything you aren’t comfortable with. Start slow and see how it goes. The gRRreat thing about fostering is that it can be short term so, you can give it a try and see how you feel afterward before committing to another foster. Opening your doors (and heart) to a dog that may not have ever experienced a warm or loving home can seem daunting but there also isn’t a more compassionate act of love. Contact your local shelter TODAY!
Do you have any tips from your foster experience or any unanswered questions?
Leave them in the comments below and we’ll follow up with Sarah!