Never Give Up

June 20, 2012  

Whether it’s kittens or pit bulls, this foster mother urges people to continue saving lives through fostering

By Brittany Webber

Exactly one year ago today I took home my first litter of kittens and their mama from Liberty Humane Society in Jersey City, N.J. They were five beautiful black domestic shorthair and Siamese mixes, three girls, two boys.

We were absolutely in love with these kittens and hovered over them as they ate, slept, played, opened their eyes for the first time … you name it, we saw it! As the days progressed, the runt of our litter became ill – we tried feeding her by hand, bringing her back and forth to the shelter for exams and subcutaneous fluids, etc.

Unfortunately, Baltic passed away when she was about 2 weeks old. One week later, another female passed, and one more week after that, our last female kitten passed away.

They passed from what is known as panleukopenia, the feline version of the parvovirus. We practically held our breath until the sixth week when the two males (Arctic and Mediterranean) were able to be vaccinated. I am beyond words when I tell you they celebrated their first birthday yesterday … together.

After that, we needed a break, but it didn’t last very long. We took a dog in who did not get along with our dogs, so she went to another foster home with a lady named Stacey. Lotus was a wonderful dog who came to us from a court release and suffered badly from mange. Now she lives in a fancy New York City apartment and has regular play dates with Stacey and her dog, Gracie.

After this I began pulling unsocialized kittens from the shelter – those ones that need the most work, patience and love; the “feral” kittens who everyone else had given up on. They were work – often I’d just sit in the bathroom with them, not moving, not speaking, just sitting, so they could get used to people. They often became sick because of the stress of a new environment and came to me filthy, not grooming themselves.

All my kittens are now safely living in their furever homes, and I get regular updates on how they are doing. Despite the time, money and emotional commitment we have provided for each and every kitten that has come through our door, I wouldn’t change one second of it. While it can be a trying and heartbreaking experience, it is also an extremely rewarding one. I urge anybody who already fosters or who is considering fostering to continue fighting the good fight against cruelty to animals: Never give up and stay strong.

People frequently ask me, “How can you take them in, get attached, and then give them away?” Simple. If we didn’t, we would never be able to help the next one or the one after that. And we do, we continue to. On the first birthday of our first litter, we took in two more kittens from the Brooklyn Animal Care and Control shelter – two 4-week-old kittens who came in with no mother or any siblings. I know two more beautiful lives are safe now. This is often a thankless job, so I want to take the time to thank all of the foster parents who give so much of their personal resources to the animals who never knew this type of love before.

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10 Responses to “Never Give Up”
  1. EmilyLitman says:

    A friend of mine from college passed your article on, as she recognized LHS since I have fostered 14 kittens from there! Thank you for writing this. You sum fostering up perfectly!!!!!!!

  2. mac_naughton says:

    I love to hear other peoples take on fostering.  It helps me when I have to answer the “I couldn’t give them up” comments of others.  I usually also throw in that we tend to love some fosters more then others…I have had a few I was ready to see move on!  Great job fostering AND describing it!

  3. What a beautiful article. Thank you for all of the foster work that you do! You’re right, without being able to give away these wonderful animals to their forever homes, you wouldn’t be able to take in the next one in need of TLC. Great way to view it! 

  4. MarcusHill says:

    Yes, it’s a labor of love. We have been fostering since early 2009 and are on our 25th puppy. Our pack does not do well with adults so we are limited to the puppies. But they need it bad because of the very real chance of catching something deadly at the shelter being as how the pups are short on vacination protection as they go through their shots. So we get to play and teach and socialize the little pups and our big dogs teach the pups doggie manners and play big bother and sister. Yes it has it’s fun and joyful times and then there is that 3am ‘I gotta go outside’ wake up call but that’s okay because that is part of house/crate training.
    Or there is our one foster failure. Rocky ( aka Shamrock) was a young blue merl Aussie mix pup that had puppy mill written all over him. He was very people shy, loved his crate, but would soil it without any hesitation or verbal plea to go outside. He was a messed up puppy. I figure somebody bought him at a flea market and when he got home and displayed those traits they dumped him. Anyway, he is one smart puppy. He still loves his crate and is still people shy although not so much now. But the biggest surprize was that he figured out that he would get to go outside at regular times to do his business and he hasn’t soiled his crate since then. I had been told that if they are that way about messing their crate it was well nigh impossible to house train them. Good dog Rocky!
    Anyway, early on I decided that he was going to have a problem getting adopted so I decided to keep him. The only fly in the soup is I can’t leave him and the pitbull, Parvo the Barbarian, in the yard together as there will be, eventually, a real dust up. I have had people tell me that is what you get from a pitbull. My answer is that it is Rocky that starts the fights. Rocky likes to make order out of chaos and if he decides that another dog is being disorderly he will take them by the back of the neck and drive them to the ground. Now Parvo put up with this while rocky was still a puppy but after he hit adulthood Parvo had enough and the next time Rocky tried that trick there was a whale of a fight. Rocky bit me as I broke it up. So now we don’t let them out at the same time. Inconvient but I’ll put up with that rather that get rid of either dog.
      Our current fosters are Romeo and Sarah. Romeo was found in a pasture hiding under some tin roofing. He had been attacked and was wounded around his face and head. He’s healed up and will soon be ready for his neutering. No telling what he is but he’ll be large. The other pup is younger and has seperation issues. She is getting better with the seperation thing as she learns that abscence doesn’t mean abandonment. Sarah has a lovely voice and has a delightful trill or warble to her call. She must have some coon hound in her.
    Sorry for getting so long winded. Fostering will fill your heart with joy despite the bother of midnight calls and occasional ‘presents’. Fostering will break your heart when it’s time for them to move on to their forever homes but be strong as there is another puppy waiting for your help and once in a while you get to meet your former fosters and you can take joy in seeing them again and know that you made that possible.

    • StubbyDog says:

       @MarcusHill You know Marcus, with that long comment, you could send us your story and send photos of your fosters and dogs. We would love that. You have a unique situation and we think it would truly benefit people to hear all about it. You are a dedicated foster parent and doggy parent, and for that we applaud you. If you want to send your story email Thanks Marcus!

      • MarcusHill says:

        Yes, I’d like to do that. I’ll work it up and get with Ingrid for guidance on form and such. Thanks for asking.
        Best regards,
        Marcus Hill,

        • StubbyDog says:

           @MarcusHill Just write from the heart, like you do and send lots of photos! Thanks so much, we look forward to it.

  5. ResQshelterdogs says:

    Huge thanks to everyone who fosters! I can’t say it enough! My own 2 dogs are undergoing hospice care currently and fostering will be the new beggining after the heartbreak of loss. I am a member of a fledgling 501c3 who advocate and volunteer @ a municipal shelter and we are in desperate need of a foster network. When the shelter is full, room has to be made. The pleas for fosters do not, however result in apps.
    I would immensely appreciate any advice on how to make “fostering” more attractive. How do you go about finding people that are willing to make second chances happen?
    My deepest gratitude to all who are involved with making Stubby Dog the success that it is. There is so much work to be done in order to change the perceptions surrounding “Bully Breeds”. It is all too often people will immediately dismiss dogs in our shelter based on their appearance. Orgs like yourself are helping to create guardians that consider it an honor to share their lives with these dogs and dispell the falicies that plague them. Keep up the great work!

    • StubbyDog says:

       @ResQshelterdogs Thank you for your kind words. We don’t know how to truly make fostering more attractive, only to say it’s a great experience for someone who may not want to commit to the lifetime care of a dog, but wants to help dogs and cats. People who foster are a special kind of people and we just love them.


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