The Impact of Fostering

by Evelyn Lett

 Photo: Evelyn Lett

Photo: Evelyn Lett

There once was a pup named Speck. For about six years she lived in a small home in the country with her owner and over 30 fur-siblings. Speck grew up having to learn how to compete with her siblings for everything: food, a place to rest, affection. Her entire life was restricted to living inside a cramped home full of trash and other horrors. 

To make matters worse, the neighbor who lived next door was not happy with this living situation and decided to take matters into his own hands by regularly shooting the dogs with shot pellets. In effect, the dogs had to literally risk their lives if they dared to venture outside for fresh air. This unbelievable terror resulted in at least four dogs with limb amputations. Speck was one of those unfortunate pups. 

One day Speck’s owner passed away unexpectedly. Once authorities realized the living conditions on the property and the number of animals present, they didn’t have any feasible way to manage or even temporarily house the dogs and therefore had to make the hard decision to put Speck and her siblings to sleep. Who knew that there were still some counties in the state of Georgia that don’t even have an animal control division?

 Photo: Evelyn Lett

Photo: Evelyn Lett

Thankfully, in their final moments, one official took it upon themselves to reach out to a local rescue group to plead with them to save any of these unfortunate souls. Immediately, a group of selfless, dedicated volunteers with Circle of Friends Animal Society scrambled to collect every crate at the rescue’s disposal, jumped in their personal vehicles and drove directly to the deceased man’s home to recover as many dogs as they could. In total over 20 dogs’ lives were saved in what each of these veteran rescue volunteers deemed as the worst hoarding case they had ever witnessed.

At present, less than two months following their “jail break,” several of these resilient sweethearts have already found their forever families! Thanks to the mostly full-time employed, volunteer foster homes, we were able to instantly make a huge impact in the lives of these dogs by giving them the second chance that they deserve in life. 

In the intimacy of individual foster homes, these dogs were able to be rehabilitated while simultaneously gaining firsthand experience in how to react to normal daily activities that they hadn’t previously been exposed to. As a result, dogs being fostered are given the best opportunity to thrive versus the traditional method of rescuing that typically involves sending them directly into a loud shelter with limited stimulation and attention. 

So what was the fate of that feisty little tripod named Speck? As a way to symbolize the beginning of a fresh new start in life, she now goes by Skippy. Just after being rescued, this unstoppable girl was found to have a raging case of heartworms that had to be aggressively treated by painful injections into her lower back in a risky (but necessary) attempt to kill the adult worms living in her heart and bloodstream before they killed her. For three months Skippy is required to keep her activity level to a minimum or suffer a potentially fatal blood clot. Living in a foster home allows her activity level and health condition to be more closely monitored than if she were living in a shelter kennel. 

Skippy’s story is just one extreme example illustrating the many ways that fostering is so important to rescue groups. At full disclosure, it must be mentioned that most foster cases are not this dramatic, emotionally taxing or time consuming. Skippy is considered an advanced case, so before you say, “That’s more than I can handle!,” don’t worry. Most rescues will only place dogs with you that they feel you can handle and care for properly (typically based on factors like experience level, lifestyle, proximity to a veterinarian, etc.). 

Skippy will always hold a piece of my heart wherever she may go, and I’m so excited and hopeful to see what the future has in store for this spunky little tripod girl who, despite everything, is the biggest love bug who never fails to put a smile on my face. She is finally ready for adoption and is actively searching for her very own family that will welcome her into their lives with open arms forever.