By Bob Gordon, FOTAS Director of Communications
When Wendy Dietzel read on the FOTAS Facebook page that the Aiken County Animal Shelter was at full capacity and needed volunteers to foster dogs and cats, she called a family meeting.
She, her husband, John, and two daughters, 13-year-old Ella and 8-year-old Audrey, discussed the shelter’s critical need for foster families and the new responsibilities it would mean for each of them.
“We decided we could at least help the animals by giving them a temporary home,” Wendy said. That was three months ago. Since then, the family has fostered four puppies.
Their first foster pup was Katie, a 3-month-old Pit Bull mix with a reddish coat. They took care of the shy canine and helped socialize her for adoption. After two weeks, she was ready for the adoption floor and was quickly selected and brought home by a young couple.
The family’s second foster animal was Fin, a very young and skinny Retriever mix, who was with them for three weeks – enough time for him to fill out and learn some manners. After spending quality time with the Dietzels, Fin also was swiftly adopted.
Wendy was pleasantly surprised how eager Audrey and Ella were to help with feeding, socializing and even cleaning up after the puppies.
“We knew fostering would mean extra work but we didn’t know how much we’d enjoy it!” Wendy said. “Sometimes the toughest part is letting them go. But what makes it easier is knowing that they are going to a permanent home and we will soon get a new shelter puppy to care for, teach and love.”
By taking a foster dog or cat into their home, foster volunteers save two lives: the life of the foster animal and the life of the animal that takes his/her place in the shelter. Foster homes also provide homeless animals with a less stressful, more peaceful environment than a shelter. As wonderful as the County shelter is, it can be noisy and animals have to compete for one-on-one time with volunteers and staff members. This is why dogs healing from an injury or skin condition, such as Demodectic mange, are sent to foster homes. They usually recover more quickly in a cozier, quieter setting.
Since they began fostering, the County Shelter has become a big part of the Dietzel family’s life. Audrey even had her birthday party there so she could show the facility to her friends. The party included making dog treats, a scavenger hunt and playing with the homeless puppies and kittens. Audrey also asked her guests to donate to FOTAS instead of bringing her presents.
“It’s been a great family experience volunteering and fostering,” Wendy said. “If you have the time and you love animals, I would say, give it a try. Not only do you get the enjoyment of spending time with these wonderful animals, but it also saves lives.”
If you are interested in becoming a FOTAS foster family, please visit the FOTAS website, www.fotasaiken.org, or call the Aiken County Animal Shelter, (803) 642-1537.
Their lives are in our hands…
Ella Dietzel snuggles foster pup, Hugo, on her first day of 8th grade, while her little sister, Audrey, poses with Kipper for her back-to-school photo.