Karen started fostering about 11 years ago. “It started when I was working at a veterinary hospital. A client found a dog at a puppy mill and took him because he was going to be euthanized by the breeder. He was a puppy born without an eye.” One of Karen’s favorite clients had brought their dog in for a wellness check and introduced the two and the pup was adopted within 3 hours! That was followed up by fostering 3 orphan Great Dane Puppies. “I learned how to tube feed them and then eventually bottle fed them” she says. Karen wound up keeping 2 of the dogs and placing 1 with a new family. Dogs kept finding their way to her without her being involved formally with a rescue and sometimes this still happens. She has fostered about 8 dogs without formal rescue involvement and currently fosters for Phoenix Animal Rescue.
Karen says she had doubts about becoming a foster parent because the first few that she fostered became her own "forever" family members. “However”, she says “the joy you feel when your foster goes to a family is just as rewarding as one joining your family! When people rescue instead of buying, you know those people will love & care for the one you have fostered just as much as you did. And then you move on to foster another!”
“Fostering gives a pet a temporary home instead of a kennel” says Karen. “It gives them hours of company and interaction with a person and other pets, a yard to play in or several walks a day. For some it is about learning to hear the sounds of a household. By fostering, you enable a rescue to place a pet quickly because by sharing your home you have had real life experience with your foster. You really do help a rescue determine if the pet is really housetrained, or can be placed in a house with children, other pets, men, etc.“
Karen feels that fostering a homeless pet is an honor. Sharing love, trust, joy, and happiness when they go to their forever home is an incredible experience. Sometimes they walk through the door as if saying, "Wow another place to be loved and to explore" and other times it’s "I'm so scared...what will happen to me now?". She says that while it’s easiest to care for the "happy go lucky" ones – those who have quickly forgotten their past, it’s the frightened, lost, and abused pet who needs to learn that he or she can trust and bond with people once again who probably benefit the most from your love and positive attention.
It is easy to foster for Phoenix Animal Rescue. Bruno, the rescue director, works around your schedule to get the rescue to his or her forever home. Phoenix Animal Rescue will also provide a crate, food, whatever you need to take care of your dog. “I have fostered 5 dogs for Bruno who is also an animal behaviorist. He is available to all of his fosters for questions and returns calls quickly.”
Although she wishes she could say she’s fostered many more dogs Karen knows that when you have a family everyone has to agree that it's time to foster again. “ It all depends on your attitude and also your own pack of dogs or dog!” She concludes by saying “We do miss our fosters when they first go to their new homes. But when we hear back from the adoptive family it is the greatest joy to know that you have helped another pet and family. So even if you only foster now and then you have made a difference in an animal’s life and that is HUGE.”