Why We Volunteer or Foster

October 21, 2011  

We think volunteers and foster families are heroes. So we asked our Facebook fans, ’If you volunteer with a shelter or rescue, what got you involved and what is the most rewarding part of volunteering/fostering?’

It’s heartwarming to see just how many people want to make a difference and do what they can to help. One common thread throughout …when we chose to give from the heart to help dogs … it comes back to us tenfold. We love what one fan said that seems to sum it up, ‘It’s about changing the lives of animals, one at a time.’

Thanks everyone for sharing!

Photos by Melissa Lipani

I founded and run Tough Love Pit Bull Rescue. I got involved after working with a different purebred rescue and seeing the piles of pit bulls killed every day simply because of their reputation. I vowed to make a difference. The most rewarding part of running the rescues is seeing the profound positive changes that overcome each dog within hours of leaving the shelter for a loving foster home. It’s amazing.

~ Gemma Zanowski

I got involved because I love all breeds and they deserve the best. The greatest reward is fostering a very sick dog and getting them healthy enough to go to their furever home. I have been blessed by many.

~ Patti Swain

I think the most rewarding part of fostering is seeing a dog learn to trust and live a normal life. They go from insecure, stressed, and aloof to a true companion and pet. You can tell their new family what to expect, and show everyone that dogs have an incredible capacity to bounce back and move on from a rough past.

I can’t foster, but I do volunteer my time to a group call Pet Pals. I created and manage a Facebook page for them called Western Fur Friends in Need. I am proud to do this because I know when it comes to getting dogs out of kill shelters, exposure is what it’s all about and if I can help even one dog off of a euthanasia list then my time was well spent!

~ Chelsea Molitor

I foster because I’m fortunate enough to be able to and I can’t expect others to step up if I’m not willing to myself.

~ Meagan Hobgood

The best part of fostering is when the puppies start to be house broken, following the example of the big house dogs!

~ Kim Martin

Just looking for a pit bull, I found Carolina Care Bullies. After talking with the crew at a few events, I started babysitting their dogs when they went out of town and then I moved on to fostering puppies. Perhaps the hardest, most rewarding thing one can ever do is raise them up and then let them go … I hate it because it hurts so bad, but I love it because it is an amazing thing to do!

~ Melanie Mathis Curtis

Adopting our pit got me involved with rescue/volunteering when I fully came to understand the plight of the breed and the crazy numbers of unwanted pets. I realized that by fostering/volunteering, I am saving a life with my own two hands. The litter of kittens we fostered nearly ripped my heart out when they were adopted, but the overwhelming feeling of pride and knowing if we didn’t offer a roof, the rescue might have had to turn them away, makes me willing to do it again. I also photograph adoptables and if just one photo can capture the eye of a future family, all of the effort and time are worth it. I only wish there were more time in the day and more room under the roof.

~ Amanda Taylor

I began fostering when I found a stray, senior Pomeranian suffering from mange. I called animal control, and when I later saw that he had not been transferred to the no-kill SPCA, I immediately jumped to save the little man. I’ve since continued fostering after a news segment brought to the light the atrocious kill rates at Animal Care and Control. The most rewarding part of fostering has been watching the dogs we take in develop personalities. Most come in completely shut down, but then begin to open up. It’s also knowing that if they hadn’t come into my home, they would end up another statistic.

~ James Lovecraft

My husband fell in love with a pit/mastiff mix while volunteering at the Escondido Humane Society. We adopted him and he was the best dog. I can’t even express in words how wonderful our Iggy was. We already had a wonderful pit girl, also a rescue, so between the two of them, we became very aware of the plight of pit bulls. We had talked about fostering, but hadn’t really gotten around to it. The day after our sweet boy died after a sudden illness, I got an email from Pit Bull Rescue San Diego, about how desperately in need they were for foster homes. It felt like the right way to honor our boy, so we brought home a 2-month-old pit mix foster. We watched him grow up, and now he’s almost a year old . . . and we adopted him last April.

~ Tonya Maureen Buchanan

I volunteered and fostered for Rattie Ratz Rescue for a while. Owning pet rats is one thing, but fostering is entirely different. I had never done anything like that before. When you foster, you prepare that animal for a human they have never met before and will need to bond with, so your job is to get them social and “touchable,” secure with strangers, more general behavior. I hope to help with a new intake soon, I miss it.

~ Valerie Sherman

My family and I have been rescuing dogs ever since I was little, but I didn’t start working with an organization until last year. The organization found me actually. I don’t remember how or why, but I’m glad they did! I foster for North Texas Bully Rescue now and am on my second foster. The most rewarding thing? It’s hard to put into words the rewards of the spirit that you get from enriching the life of another living being, one that would potentially have been in much worse place if things were different. To be that safe harbor while they wait for their forever families to find them is priceless. To give them love and attention and understanding, that they otherwise would not get, feeds both souls I think.

~ Tracy G Crouch

I started because I wanted to make a difference. The most rewarding part is when our dogs find a loving home. Makes it all worthwhile.

~ Michelle Merletto Cilurso

It’s about changing the lives of animals, one at a time. ~ Alexander Thomas

I’ve been wanting to foster for a while however, I was concerned what others might think considering I already had pitties. However, I could no longer sit on the sidelines while hundreds of pit bulls died because of silly thoughts, so that’s why I got involved and became a foster.

~ Kelli Parker

I used to volunteer at my local AC&C because I had always wanted to volunteer. My second reason was to pay it forward: I had utilized our spay/neuter voucher program and wanted to give back. It was an amazing time, and I only stopped because I had adopted my third dog and wasn’t giving them or the shelter 100%. The most rewarding part was interacting with the dogs and seeing the light in their eyes when given attention.

~ Benita Rodriguez

I was a foster home for the Humane Society because of my deep affection for animals in general. It was not unusual for me to have a dozen or so dogs and a few cats since I had a large amount of property where I lived. I enjoyed taking the animals to the TV station on Mondays and Fridays to be shown on air to find them homes. We were fortunate enough to place quite a few. I am trying to finish getting my yard completely fenced where I live now, so I can start being a “foster-mom” again. The love from the babies was great and then seeing them socialized and able to function in a loving home was all the reward that one could ask for!

~ Donna-Kay Strickland

I got involved because I wanted to be around dogs again, since it’s been a year my last dog passed. While being there, the most rewarding part is being able to comfort the ones who need it, and seeing them go from worried to a little more comfortable, then eventually adopted! I actually adopted one, so I see how comfortable he is everyday and it’s a mutual feeling.

~ Angelica Mæ Garlejo

I started fostering when I found my third stray dog and my friend who was a foster home said “You’re fostering this one!” The most rewarding thing is finding them that awesome home and knowing what a wonderful life they will have now because you saved their life!

~ Lynette Crane Purves

I am a first time foster and failed. The best part about fostering: I met one of the best pit bull mixes ever. He was suffering from kennel stress and quit eating. As soon as I brought him home, he ate. He played with my other pibble. He is sweet, goofy, cuddly. He follows me everywhere and keeps me company. Needless to say, he is a keeper. For now, these two pibbles keep me busy. Maybe someday I will foster again.

~ Anastasia Hedy Widiarsih

I started fostering eight years ago for Cats-Can and have never looked back. I’ve fostered literally hundreds of cats and kittens and kept more than a few. Now I’m a board member and we’re in the process of opening an affordable spay/neuter clinic here in Central Florida in May of 2012 through our sister organization SpayNSave. I’m happy to know that we’ve made a difference in so many animals’ lives throughout the years and will continue to do so for years to come through this clinic.

~ Lisa Reddy

I started volunteering when I realized that this Lily Tomlin quote applied to me: “I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.” I started off by volunteering at fundraising and adoption events, graduated to dog walking at the shelter, then fostering stray cats and dogs, and eventually went to work for a shelter. The reward is being part of the solution and seeing a dog or cat move on to a better, safe life because you were that somebody who said, “I got this!”

~ Jessica Dolce

I began volunteering with PAWS New England as an adoption coordinator and then began fostering because I knew how many pit bull type dogs were in need of help. It has been an incredible experience and we are now on our 14th foster dog. The most rewarding part of fostering is when that dog finally begins to trust you and “gets it.” Some take longer than others, but there’s always a point where they finally look at you and have a sense of peace and ease in their eyes.

~ Jenn End Bsl Frankavitz

A friend got me involved in fostering pit bulls. A rescue in the Chicagoland area had tons of puppies that needed fosters, so I took two and after they were adopted, I took an adult. When I look at the dogs I have saved or helped save, it makes me smile and want to cry. The foster dog I have now is such a great dog and she was on death row because her owners didn’t want her after she had puppies and let her go out on the streets. I am glad every day that I took her in because if not, this world would be missing one great dog!

~ Kristen Chapman

The most rewarding part is knowing that animal is now safe and in a loving forever home. I personally got involved mainly because I always tried to bring home every friendly stray cat I encountered, and the understanding that spay/neuter is a huge factor in reducing strays and homeless animals. I will continue to make noise for them until they all have a home.

~ Sandra Dougherty

The best part is being able to get to know the dogs as individuals: their quirks, their strengths and weaknesses, preferences. It amazes me how completely unique each dog is and how they’re all so memorable. I can look through the thousands of photos I’ve taken at shelters and recall every one of their little personalities. Whether they made it out of the shelter or not, I feel really honored to have known each of them!

~ Heather McClain Howell

I foster/volunteer for Daisy Davis Pit Bull Rescue. A little over a year ago I posted a dog in need – a deaf pit bull mix who was about to be PTS in a city shelter. The founder of Daisy Davis, Monica, saw him and came up with a great solution: shared fostering. She had a part-time home available and asked if I would share fostering. I agreed. At times, in the beginning, Rio could be a challenge (nothing due to his deafness) but he has literally transformed into a fun, well behaved dog who is remarkably dog social. I now have my fifth foster, who will be with me full time. All the others have been adopted quickly, but Rio remains for as long as he needs. The best part about fostering is being part of the solution. Sitting on the sidelines and wishing “someone would do something” just doesn’t save lives.

~ Crissy Wilson Tadlock

I foster and sit on the board for Carolina Care Bullies. Making a difference one dog at a time in the Carolina’s. I love knowing that I have helped a dog become a better dog. Foster homes are key to helping dogs be the BEST they can be, and I’m proud to be a foster mommie!

~ Rae Boney

I volunteer at the Seattle Humane Society and love it (both my babies were adopted from there!). I saw a post at the beginning of 2011 about volunteering and I thought I should look into it. Then I read a BAD RAP Blog about photographing dogs – and that’s it – I was ready to get involved one way or another. It’s a short shift each week taking pictures of the dogs for their website and I just treasure each time I’m there! Getting to know the different dogs, personalities, breeds, a little play time with them, and then hopefully some great pics! I learn a little something about them and myself each time I go. It’s just a privilege. I wouldn’t trade it for anything! And thanks to everyone getting involved. It’s hard work, but the best rewards!

~ Tracey Thompson

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3 Responses to “Why We Volunteer or Foster”
  1. ChristineGurrieri says:

    Here in NYC some dogs are adopted the day the are made available for loving homes, while others, mainly our beautiful pit bulls sit smiling in their rooms (we don’t have cages) waiting for someone to notice them, to take them home and love them. Luckily our shelter is no-kill but it still difficult to see these beauties month after month waiting for their turn to go home. I try my best to educate our adopters on the pit bull most could care less. But then every now and again someone comes in who is open minded. This is what happened one day when I took a young family around who was looking for their first family dog. They had young kids 5 and 8 and I knew the perfect dog for them, Otis our large white 8 year old pit!! I told them about Otis and his demenor as he sat quietly at the glass. They liked Otis but I could see their reluctnce to owning a pit especially since they had children. I suggested that if nothing else they just meet with Otis. If they didn’t feel it was the right fit, then no harm would be done. But I knew in my heart that Otis was their forever pet, and sure enough after the meet in greet I saw them in Adoptions waiting to fill out the contract to take Otis home! Pits are hard to adopt, but even harder to adopt are older dogs, so the fact Otis had found his family made me begin to believe again that good people exist. People willing not to believe the hype and to take a chance on a dog many would have overlooked. – Christine G.

  2. rhengen says:

    I so admire foster parents, and the chances that these dogs are given by people who open their hearts and homes to them. I am a foster mother failure, and have adopted every dog that I intended to only foster. Thank goodness there are people that are braver than me and that can prepare a dog for another home and then let him or her go. It is a wonderful service that they do, that so benefits dogs truly in need. Thank you foster parents everywhere!

  3. CindyMcLain says:

    I can’t foster.. I already have four dogs and four cats.. two adopted kids and two bunnies.. the husband said.. NO MORE.. and I don’t want a divorce.. but I sure am thankful to those who can and do!