Last weekend, I spent four hours with some sweet animals looking for a new home. The Washington Humane Society had an adoption event at RCKNDY on U Street in DC.
I was there to promote our SinglePup doggie tees and to consider adopting a dog. I lost my cat, Sage, to cancer last July. Living with her for 14 years and then coming home to an empty house was pretty traumatic for me. I’m now feeling ready to open my heart to another pet.
It was a beautiful, sunny day in DC and the dogs were getting lots of attention. There were small dogs and big dogs, something for everyone. It was wonderful to see how many people were interested in adopting. One guy came specifically to meet Beena (in the photo) after reading her story on the website. She had been found laying on the street in SE starving. She was super skinny, but had the sweetest nature. He spent some time with her and then filled out an application.
A couple people would say how they would love a dog, but their apartments wouldn’t allow a pet. The volunteers would say “you need to move!” These people would just stick around petting the dogs wishing their situations were different. And, then you would talk to a couple who had three dogs and were wondering if they could rescue one more…
The youngest dog in the group, Kihya, was only 12 weeks. She spent most of the afternoon shyly looking at the by passers from the protective arms of her foster parents. I spent some time holding her. She’s a sweet and adorable dog. I wrapped her in a SinglePup doggie tee “We’re looking for puppy love.” The bright pink tee suited her. I think she appreciated the additional layer to warm her little body.
Wait…foster parents? Yes, she was staying with foster parents while they and the shelter found her a home. I had never heard of this. The Washington Humane Society (WHS) takes in on average 33 animals a day. WHS’s Foster Program works around the clock to provide comfort to all of the animals in their care. Each time an animal is taken out of their shelter and into a home to be fostered, it provides them more space for another animal that needs their special care and attention. WHS also has a good home guarantee which is a five year plan to reach 100% placement rate for adoptable animals. Their volunteer Foster Care Program is helping them to meet this goal.
Alyson Burgess is the Program Manager for the Foster Care Program. I met Alyson at this adoption event. Her and her husband are the foster parents for Kihya. Btw, Kihya loves cats!
I was definitely intrigued with the idea of foster care, but I had alot of questions. Below is some general information.
What is the Foster Program?
The Foster Program allows adoptable animals to move out of the shelter while they are waiting for their new home, opening up more space in the shelter and giving more wonderful dogs and cats a second chance at a wonderful home! Foster volunteers open up their homes to dogs and cats in need and help find them permanent adoptive homes.
What kind of animals need foster homes?
All kinds of adoptable dogs and cats! WHS puts healthy, adoptable animals into foster homes to open up space in the shelter. We also need help fostering animals that may not do well in the shelter environment, including mothers with litters of young ones, puppies or kittens too young to be adopted, animals recovering from surgery, and shy or timid animals overwhelmed by the shelter environment.
Who can be a foster parent?
Anyone with the time and energy to dedicate to caring for a cat or dog and the willingness to help it find a new home! Foster volunteers are caring, compassionate people who want to make a difference in an animal’s life. You must live in the DC Metro area and have some familiarity with caring for animals in your home or the willingness to learn.
What are the requirements for fostering animals?
Foster caregivers need to be able to keep animals in their home (i.e. owning their own home or living in a pet-friendly rental). WHS will provide routine preventative medical care including spay/neuter, vaccinations, heartworm or FeLV/FIV tests, and dewormer. Foster parents are responsible for food, shelter, and any medical care outside of the routine procedures performed by WHS. Foster parents must be willing to help find the animal a new adoptive home (including meeting with potential adopters), and be able to release the foster pet to its new owners when the new home is found.
What happens during the foster process?
When there is a dog or cat that needs foster care, the Foster Care Program Manager will contact you. If you are able to foster at that time, you will pick up the animal at the shelter and bring it home to get settled in. Foster animals’ pictures are posted on the WHS website, and you can also bring your foster pet to Adoption Events! You can also advertise your foster pet in newspapers, on Craigslist, or anywhere you choose! When a potential adopter is interested, you will arrange a meeting between the adopter and your foster pet. You will then work with the Foster Care Program Manager to approve the adoption application, including performing a home visit if required. After the adoption is approved, you will help your foster transition into their new, loving home!
How do I become a foster parent?
Contact Alyson Burgess, Volunteer and Foster Care Program Manager, at 202-723-5730 (ext. 149), ABurgess@washhumane.org, for an application. After filling out the application, you will attend one of our Foster Trainings . We want to make sure you have all of your questions answered before you get started. After the training, you will be ready to start fostering!
I had never thought about fostering an animal….I could test the waters of caring for a dog. “It’s not like taking care of a cat,” “you have to walk the dog at least twice a day and imagine when it’s really cold outside!” warn all my cat-loving friends. Imagine all the people who wouldn’t have pets (or children) if they listened to all the forewarnings.
I realize it will require more of my time and there will be moments of “what was I thinking?” However, with anything new, time helps us to adapt or in this case, maybe adopt.
Please visit your local Humane Society and open your heart and home to a loving animal.