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Give & Take: Fostering a Furry Friend

Sarah Rutledge

I’ve been lucky enough to foster dogs for rescue organizations over the past three years. These animals have given me so much, but particularly now in this time of increased isolation and cynicism, fostering has provided an opportunity to feel hopeful and engage with my community from the confines of my one bedroom apartment.

It all started in September 2017 when I was hiking with my boyfriend in a local park and we saw an adorable little pit bull in an “Adopt Me” vest. We were compelled to stop to speak with the organization, Leader of the Rescue Pack, and learned then about the many dogs waiting to find families, and the opportunity to provide them loving homes in the meantime. The very next day, we returned to the rescue organization’s headquarters to take home our first foster, who soon became our forever dog, and never looked back.

I’ve fostered over 30 dogs and adopted two over the last three years, and have seen animals in the most fragile and rough moments of their life, coming straight out of situations of abuse and abandonment. I have also witnessed these animals come out of their shells and learn to trust again, demonstrating their amazing resilience and unrelenting love towards humans.

One dog that immediately comes to mind is Snoopy, an eight-year-old beagle who stepped into my life last summer. He had come to the rescue through a massive abuse case headed up by the ASPCA. His injuries were horrific, and yet, Snoopy’s favorite activity was snuggling on my lap. He was so well loved by his vets, that when we found out he had cancer, they agreed to remove his tumor free of cost. We were able to see his full recovery both physically and emotionally, and find the perfect forever home for him. Snoopy holds a special place in my heart, and he showed me how much of an impact my time could make. He is the perfect example of why rescues value foster homes so much, as they provide dogs a chance to recover peacefully and grow into their personalities before being adopted.

With social distancing forcing us to rethink how and where we volunteer, I feel there has never been a better time to consider donating time and/or money to animal shelters and rescue organizations, who need help to make it through the pandemic. With the spike of people spontaneously adopting furry friends in quarantine, puppy mills and dog neglect cases are popping up left and right across the country, and small, donation-funded rescues need help.

If you are looking for ways to get involved, reach out to your local shelter, rescue or pound. If you have the ability to foster dogs, consider fostering misunderstood breeds like pit bulls through great organizations such as Pit Stop, as over one million are euthanized in shelters each year. The smallest of actions can save – and significantly improve – dogs’ lives.

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