The holidays, now in the rear-view mirror, can be a stressful time for pets as well as people.
To make the holidays brighter for furry ones, humane societies often encourage people to temporarily foster animals with the idea that, after the holidays are over, the animals can be returned after receiving some much-needed tender loving care. Of course, a “failed foster” is the best kind, because that means the animals remain permanently with their foster families.
At Halifax Humane Society in Daytona Beach, 28 animals were sent out with 13 returned, 13 adopted and two decisions pending.
After losing her Alaskan husky McDreamy a few weeks before Christmas (who she had also rescued 14 years before), Patricia Golden of Daytona Beach was not looking to adopt another dog right away but rather wanted to give a shelter dog a little respite over the holidays. A hound was not the type of dog she had in mind. But when she saw a little red puppy now named Harmon, she knew she wanted to take him home.
Harmon was recovering from surgery and initially she wanted to just help him heal in a comfortable environment. But the little pup attached himself to her where she ended up paying for additional medical treatment for him and the two quickly bonded.
“I was not planning to adopt that week and I certainly did not want a hound,” Ms. Golden said. “But I got him and he is getting better. There was another dog I was interested in taking home for the weekend if nobody was taking him home, just to get the dogs out of the shelter and socialize them. It’s easier for them to find a home if they are a little bit socialized.”
The hound looked so uncomfortable, she thought he really needed some nurturing.
“I brought him home on the 30th. I held him in my bed the first two nights because he was crying,” she said.
The Marra family from South Daytona also participated in the holiday foster program and acquired a new dog, a lab mix.
“We were wanting a dog for a while,” Nick Marra said. “They (HHS) were telling us about fostering for the holidays and we found one the same day. We wanted to see before we decided to keep it if it was a good fit. So, we fostered him and he was an awesome dog, a great dog. (We also have) three cats and a rabbit and fish tanks. My other dog had passed away a few months back. He was a Boston terrier.”
The foster program is the best thing to do to see the animal can stay with other animals, he said.
The lab mix is now named River and lives in South Daytona.
The holiday foster program allows people to take animals for as a little as two days or as much as two weeks, said Barry KuKes, HHS community outreach director.
More than half of the animals fostered get forever homes, Mr. KuKes said. “If 16 animals are adopted, that frees up 16 kennels for new, incoming animals. Even the fosters who did return the animal they fostered for a week or so helped HHS and the animal.”
The Southeast Volusia Humane Society in New Smyrna Beach had a similar program, “Home for the Pawlidays,” Executive Director Sarah Wees said.
“Six of the 10 cats and dogs who participated in our Home for the Pawlidays program were adopted,” Ms. Wees said. “Even though four returned to the shelter, they still got to be spoiled for a few weeks. Any pet coming back to the shelter provides a great opportunity to learn more about his or her behavior. The more information we gather, the better we are able to match them with a forever home.”
The holidays are over, but the need for fosters never ends. If you are able to provide temporary care to a shelter pet, and want more information, visit sevhumanesociety.org/foster or halifaxhumanesociety.org.