07 June 2015
By Joanna Dunn Samson, FOTAS Vice President
The Igoe’s have fostered close to 100 puppies and dogs from the Aiken County Animal Shelter. The Wolcott’s and Courtney Conger have fostered well over 350. The Wisemans average about 100 per year. The Heuberger’s, our newest foster family, have already fostered 6. Ray Eckenrode fostered 12 in his first year. Sam Cato has fostered so many she quit counting.
These are just a few of our network of our committed foster families. The Igoes, Wolcott’s, Conger and the Wiseman’s specialize in taking pregnant mamma dogs and birthing their puppies or very young, motherless puppies and raising them in a nourishing environment until they are weaned. Healthy puppies are highly adoptable everywhere, but especially in the north where mutt puppies are rare because everyone spays and neuters.
Cato, Eckinrode, and the Heubergers take dogs scheduled for transfer (those not adopted locally after a period of time) out of the shelter a few days before the scheduled transfer date, allowing them time to decompress from hectic shelter life and socialize in a home environment.
In almost every case, the animals transferred to another shelter are already spoken for by the time they are loaded on the truck, or they are adopted within a week of arriving at the new rescue, which makes letting the dogs go when the time comes more bearable.
“You have to take the bigger view,” says Girl Conger. “It’s about helping as many animals as possible get out of the shelter and find a forever home, not about being a sucker for every dog you take home. It’s a simple formula: math + heart – every dog we take allows a dog crowded in the intake wing to be moved to the adoption floor. We save two lives for every one we foster.”
“Plus, it’s a never-ending supply of squishy, fluffy, adorable puppy love and puppy-breath. What could be better than that?”
They all love animals, that’s a given, but they all foster for different reasons. Eckenrode traveled for business and couldn’t adopt a dog, so fostering gave him “dog time” in small chunks. Cato does it because it’s her way of giving back to the community. Tara Heuberger does it because she wants her 5-year-old son, Tegan, to learn how to care for the dogs.
Heather Wiseman says the best thing about fostering is the time the family spends together caring for and playing with the puppies. “It’s made us a stronger family, and the puppies are so much better adjusted growing up in a home instead of the shelter.”
And they all do it different ways. Some fosters make a safe, comfortable place for their visitor outside of the house. Others fully integrate them into their lives.
“I pick them up and bring them home, then my happy pack of 5 dogs takes over,” says Cato. “They teach the newcomer good manners and housetraining. They all sleep in the bed with me. I love it.”
Here’s the thing: we need you to foster! The dogs need you! Now! This summer! Call the FOTAS Hotline at (803) 514-4313 and we’ll tell you how.
Thank you and God Bless. Their lives are in our hands.