The Foster Roster and a Ewe on the Lam

6 mins read
Young handsome worker helping two young women friends to adopt beautiful dogs.

May 20 is National Rescue Dog Day, as well as World Bee Day, followed by World Parrot Day, May 31. Every day, we receive urgent, desperate pleas for help with animals that are in dire straits, most often shelter dogs, especially large breeds like GSDs, Huskies and Malinois, which need a foster as a pathway to adoption. 

COVID was a factor since many people adopted pets as a way to offset lockdown lonesomeness. According to the nonprofit American Pet Products Association, pet ownership in the USA increased by 9.8 percent between 2020-2022, more than double the rate from 2009-2019, when ownership grew by 4.7 percent. That sounds like a good thing, except that it’s not. Plenty of people lost their jobs and had to downsize their residences as a result. Folks who once had a backyard are now in a studio apartment, no pets allowed.

Heard it all before but don’t believe it? Swing by the Devore or Downey animal shelters for a fresh whiff of reality.

The surplus of shelter animals may seem like an insoluble problem. It’s not, but like many complex problems, it will require a solution with a lot of layers. It’s easy to look at the facts and form sage judgments about what should have happened and what might have been. This sort of postmortem may not be an entirely useless practice because it may prepare us for action the next time, with the next time, of course, being right now.

Yes, people should research breeds thoroughly before adopting any animal to avoid unwelcome surprises.  Yes, people should spay and neuter. Yes, people should have a backup plan regarding care of their pets for the time when they can no longer pay their astronomical mortgages and decide to live in a yurt in Truth or Consequences, NM and learn to play the flute.

See you there.

Meanwhile, what all of us can do immediately and constantly is spread the word about the need for fosters, especially dog fosters. Fostering is often supported by a rescue and other volunteers who will arrange transportation of the animal from the shelter to your home, will provide food and supplies, and often even basic medical care for the animal’s temporary stay with you.

A fostering commitment may be as brief as a week. Some fosters “fail,” meaning that you can’t bear to let the creature you’ve come to know and love go to someone else. We’re sure that this is the secret and often the final wish of every shelter animal.

This column contains many referrals to people who coordinate fosters (they’d LOVE to hear from you), including Pasadena Humane, which offers fostering training workshops at no charge. You are always welcome to contact me directly at the email address located at the bottom of this story. The point is to keep the benefits of fostering in mind and make other animal people in your sphere of influence aware of the same. Then do it!

Sometimes a divide-and-conquer approach we call buddy-fostering makes it easier. The success of this tag team approach primarily depends upon the needs of the animal involved.  Consult with your foster coordinator, but our example is: You want to foster a dog, but have only limited free time because of your work.  Your neighbor-friend has lots of free time, a backyard pool, and a fit, bored teenager who loves to hike.

The way that works is the busy-but-caring person happily gave the dog lots of weekend and evening attention, a soft, warm, safe indoor bed, short walks, games, toys, songs, baths, naps, grooming, and of course managed vet care, food and other supplies. The neighbor-friend gives the dog “enrichment” (translation: FUN!) in the form of lots of physical daytime exercise and visits to new smells and new places during the week.

Depending on the chemistry, if you partner with a buddy, the hard work of fostering may be shared and balanced, the joy is shared, and the animal may benefit from group hugs.

When you foster, inspire others to do the same, and share the experience on your socials.


This bro-and-sis pair don’t want to end up back in the shelter. Photo: Maria J

Thanks to Maria J. for bringing us the urgent news of these Arctic beauties. They were rescued from a horrific, high-kill shelter and now are at risk of being sent back there since their foster can no longer keep them.

  • Canine siblings, one female (Lulu), one male (Alpha)
  • Breed: Husky
  • Coloring: White with graphite and black saddle and back
  • Age: 3 years old (approx.)
  • In fine health
  • Sweet disposition; good with kids; dog-friendly; trained and trainable
  • Need to be kept together

Ready to foster these two? Text 951-212-7474


A large brown dog lying next to a window
Sadly, the answer isn’t in those books. Sweet Winnie just needs less stress. Photo: Kim

Thank you, Kim, for sharing this heartbreakingly difficult ask.

Animal and pet advocates may quickly turn shrill and judge-y, but that helps no one. This beautiful dog – we don’t have details – needs a new home. Because life happens. Winnie’s current humans were told she’s good with kids, but this was not the case, and therefore Winnie needs to be homed somewhere else. 

The moral of the story: life happens. This is a legitimate family emergency, as proven by the willingness of Winnie’s current human to find a way to give Winnie a sweet life.

Kim, Winnie’s current human mom, writes: “She is dog-friendly, loves to be active, and loves to lay at your feet. We will pay our neuroscience canine behaviorist to facilitate an introduction to your home and/or dog(s). Additional sessions are offered as well. Everything is paid for, including supplies.”

Text or call Kim at 551-206-9595.

Meet Momma Brenda #A79790

Several of the kittens just itching to get out of their cage. Photo: Devore Animal Shelter

There’s a fungus among us. There’s been a lot of interesting (?) chat lately about brain-eating ear-worms, but in the case of this large feline family at the Devore Animal Shelter in San Bernardino, it’s a contagious fungal infection, which goes under the misnomer “ringworm.”

This mother cat and her ten (10!) kittens are at high risk of being immediately euthanized because of their skin condition, which is completely treatable and reversible.

We don’t have extensive details beyond: 

  • Feline family, mother with 10 kittens, DSH 
  • Kittens approximately 7 years old
  • Solid black and silver/black striped tabbies
  • Medical waiver: they all need anti-fungal treatment

19777 Shelter Way
San Bernardino
(909) 386-9820 — press 2 for Devore Shelter, then press 3 to speak with a shelter agent. 

And also at Devore…

Meet #A797681, Miss Maggie

A goat in a fenced in area
Here’s looking at ewe, kid. Photo: Devore Animal Shelter

The shelter descriptor reads: “Tan unaltered female, who looks like a Sheep.” Yup.

We believe that there is need for a lamb license (city permit), and also restrictions on how close to other dwellings a sheep may be permitted to live. Check the deets with your local city authorities, please.

Maggie is “Rescue Only.” For Maggie, phone (909) 386-9820 — press 2 for Devore Shelter, then rescues, press 1 to speak with a rescue coordinator.

Meet Ella Enchanted

Three legs are enough to get Ella on her way. Photo: Darlene Papa

Thanks, Darlene P for the story of this beautiful female tortoise-shell DSH who is in search of a calm, nurturing home.

Darlene writes:

Meet Ella, a brave and resilient kitty with a story as enchanting as her namesake. Ella’s journey began in a colony where she charmed everyone with her friendly demeanor. Always the first to greet the feeders and eager for affection, Ella was the heart of the colony. However, fate took a cruel turn one fateful night when Ella disappeared, only to return days later badly injured. Her leg was fractured beyond repair, leading to the need for amputation. Because of the trauma, Ella’s spirit became fragile.

But then came a stint at a shelter that changed everything. Placed in a room with barking dogs, Ella was terrified and withdrawn. The once sociable cat became skittish and unapproachable, a shell of her former self, with a broken spirit. Thankfully, a compassionate rescuer-turned-foster mom intervened. Recognizing Ella’s distress, she brought her home, removed the Cone of Shame, and showered her with love and understanding. Though Ella still bears the scars of her ordeal, her resilience shines through.

Now, Ella spends her days hopping around on three legs, a silent testament to her strength. She may be hesitant at first, but once she feels safe, she’ll curl up on the bed beside you, silently asking for the love and TLC she craves.

Ella’s journey is far from over, but with the right person by her side, she’s sure to rediscover the sweet purr-sonality that captivated hearts before. Born in 2022, Ella is ready to embark on her next chapter, filled with love, comfort, and the promise of a brighter tomorrow. Will you be the one to give her the happy ending she deserves?”

See more of Ella and how to adopt at

The short URL of this article is:

Victoria Thomas

Victoria has been a journalist since her college years when she wrote for Rolling Stone and CREEM. Victoria describes the view of Mt. Wilson from her front step as “staggering,” and she is a defender of peacocks everywhere.
Email: [email protected]

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