By Toni Urben, FOTAS Volunteer and Foster Family
My husband Gary and I are a foster family for dogs from the Aiken County Animal Shelter that were not adopted locally and have been accepted for transfer to a sister agency in another part of the country. I can’t recall what got us started, but we have been fostering for FOTAS for four years, and it has been a truly satisfying journey. These sweet animals often come to us scared and anxious, and we have cried tears of sorrow at their condition and plight. As dog lovers, we cannot conceive how someone could have abandoned, abused or surrendered them in the first place.
Back to what we do as fosters and what we receive in return. We commit to care and love these dogs for approximately six days. In that short time, we give them a chance to relax, eat well, and exercise, and they learn to trust and love—we watch them come back to life. Our foster dogs truly teach us the meaning of forgiveness, resilience and adaptation.
Our most recent fosters were two older pups who had each recently had a hind leg amputated by Dr. Levy, the Shelter veterinarian, because they had arrived at the Shelter with such severe injuries, their lives were at risk. After a month at the Shelter, they needed a chance to adjust to their limitations. We helped them adjust and relax; we watched them get stronger on their short walks. It is hard to express the joy we have received from these two brave souls, who harbored no resentment toward mankind for their predicament. I cried tears of joy
when they left to begin their new life in a loving home, but by letting them go, we are able to foster two more dogs and prepare them for a fresh start.
Another foster we will always remember was Blue, an adult house pet who was extremely depressed at being abandoned by his owners. Blue moped about the dog room or laid at the glass door for long periods of time, just staring sadly into space. He didn’t want to leave his crate—we often had to pull him out just to walk and eat. He was so depressed, we did not think he was ready for transfer, so we asked to keep him for an additional three weeks. FOTAS agreed.
Gary and I were on a mission to bring Blue back to life. We leashed him and kept him with us as we sat in the family room and went about our daily life. Eventually he relaxed and wagged his tail; light came on in his gorgeous eyes. FOTAS worked their network. When they couldn’t find him a local home, they were able to transfer him to a northern partner. We were later contacted by the woman who fostered Blue for that shelter, and to our delight, she adored him so much, she kept him. She often posts pictures of Blue on the shelter’s Facebook page, so I can still look into his warm eyes and know he is loved and safe.
Yes, fostering can be a challenge, but deep satisfaction is the guaranteed outcome. FOTAS is in urgent need of more fosters—they need your help.
Their lives are in our hands.
By the Numbers
January to July:
The County Shelter’s Trap Neuter Return (TNR) Program, supplemented by FOTAS, recorded 500 community cats fixed and returned to field!