Animal Shelters Call For Foster Homes

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NORTH CANTON, Ohio — Humans have been helping humans during the COVID-19 pandemic by staying home and only taking what they need in grocery stores. But, their four-legged friends need help too. 

With many states under shelter-in-place orders, animal shelters have been categorized as a non-essential business, limiting the number of workers in their facilities. Rileigh Dozer and her family are familiar with the animal shelter system and says this is why shelters are asking for people to foster. 

“There’s not enough of them and not enough time in the day to make sure all the dogs are getting walked and taken cared for,” Dozer said. “So, it definitely gives the workers a break, especially during this time.” 

The Animal Fostering Program

The Animal Shelter Society, Inc.’s online foster application

Foster programs have been common practice in shelters for a while. The need is even greater, especially in hotspots for the virus. Shelters have been posting on their websites and Facebook pages to find homes for their animals during the outbreak. Dozer said her mom saw the local shelter’s advertisement on Facebook and decided to foster. 

According to the Guardians of the Animals of Ohio Rescue, foster homes provide animals with the one-on-one care and attention they need to help them become better pets. Foster programs also allow shelters to free up kennel space and save even more animals. Those who foster should be 21 or older with access to a car to transport the animals to appointments. 

Dozer said her family was asked similar questions when filling out the fostering application. Her shelter also asked how many dogs were in the home, where the dog would sleep and how the dog would be trained. Once the shelter approved the application, Dozer said she went to the shelter to pick up their new dog, Eddie. After adopting two other dogs from a shelter, Dozer said her family was not worried about the behavior of a new dog in the house. 

The Animal Shelter Society, Inc. has been using Facebook to advertise animals in need of homes during the stay-at-home order

“Most of the dogs in the shelter, at least from our experience, have already been in homes, so they are trained,” she said.

Dozer said that Eddie has been a comfort to have in the house during these uncertain times. The two have been going on walks together and bonding with each other. 

“It’s definitely been comforting,” she said. “He’s sorta claimed me as his person.” 

Initially, the Dozer family was to house Eddie for two weeks, but with the stay-at-home order in Ohio extended, Dozer said she’s unsure how long Eddie will be with them, so her family decided to adopt him. 

COVID-19 and Pets

On Sunday, New York City reported that a tiger in the Bronx Zoo had tested positive for the coronavirus after coming in contact with a worker with the virus. This sparked concern for pet owners and those thinking about fostering shelter animals.

According to the CDC, there is currently no evidence that animals can spread the virus to humans. But, there have been cases outside of the United States where pets had contracted the virus. With these reports and the reported case at the zoo, the CDC is monitoring the situation closely. 

Health officials recommend humans treat pets with the same courtesy as other humans. If owners are infected with or have tested positive for the virus, they should keep their distance. If possible, owners should find other caretakers for their pets. But if owners still must care for their pets when sick, they should wash their hands before, and after, they care for them. 

The Dozer family’s two other dogs, who were adopted from an animal shelter

While this new development may cause some to turn away from animal fostering programs, Dozer said she hopes they reconsider. Dozer said her mom’s response to the final question on the application sums up why everyone should foster an animal. 

“The last question on the questionnaire was, why are you doing this,” she said. “And she wrote because all dogs deserve love.”