Do you have a place in your heart and home for animals, but you’re not prepared to adopt? The Dumb Friends League Homes with Hearts foster care program lets animal lovers bring pets from our shelters into their homes temporarily to prepare them for adoption.
Every fostered pet has a better chance at a happier and healthier life ahead with a forever family. Last fiscal year, League foster parents, a dedicated group of volunteers who open their hearts and homes to animals in need, cared for 2,807 homeless pets, which is impressive. Let’s meet two of these families who welcome animals in need into their homes and help improve their lives.
Andrea Hueschen started volunteering on the League’s mobile units in 2017. When needs shifted, Andrea knew she still wanted to be involved with the organization and convinced her husband, Jonathan, that they should foster.
Andrea and Jonathan welcome any animal in need, and, to date, that includes 30 animals. “We’ve had the opportunity to have two to three puppies at a time, mommas who are nursing (up to seven animals at a time), cats waiting for dental, kittens and our fair share of medical cases, including orthopedic, illnesses and those waiting for specialty visits,” said Andrea.
When asked about why the couple chose to foster animals, Andrea said, “It truly warms my heart. I love seeing their personalities develop. This is especially true for some of the animals that act completely different in a home compared to the shelter. Also, the recovery process for medical cases is often staggering. Being a physical therapist by trait, I really enjoy helping them through their recovery to optimize function. There are always the mixed emotions when they are ready to return for adoption, but I know that we have done an amazing job to impact their lives and give them a great start until they find their forever homes.”
Andrea believes that fostering animals is a rewarding way to participate in the League and help change the lives of animals, and sometimes, those animals manage to wiggle their way into the hearts of their foster families. “The first group is always the hardest to give back, but each time it gets easier,” said Andrea. “The sooner one has the realization that it would be impossible to keep them all also helps!” Even with that realization, Andrea and Jonathan’s most recent group of kittens had one who, at 9-weeks old, had no fear or trouble getting along or being social with their 67-pound dog. The couple thought that if she were that social as young as she was, then it would be a good match for them to be forever buddies. That’s what’s known as a “foster fail,” and it’s the best kind!
Bethany and John Simpson’s entire family loves animals and thought fostering would be the perfect opportunity to volunteer based on their lifestyle and schedule. Since they began fostering a year and a half ago, the family has cared for approximately 85 homeless dogs and cats.
The entire Simpson clan participates in helping the animals that frequent their home. “We love to foster pregnant moms,” said Bethany. “We’ve had six or seven mommas, several who delivered their puppies here, or had puppies that they were still nursing. I love having puppies here. We’ve had 10 German Shepherd puppies at one time until they were 8-weeks old.”
People foster for different reasons, and for Bethany, she does it because she fully believes in the League’s mission and feels this is the best way to support it and involve her children in volunteering.
“People ask me all the time if it’s hard to return the fosters when they are ready for adoption, and I can honestly say that it gets easier,” Bethany said. “We are always sad to see them leave, but we know they are being given the best chance at a great life. If you have the room and time to foster animals, it is worth it. The Foster department is so helpful and supportive and makes it easy.”
The Simpson’s have happily foster failed twice and adopted a puppy who was born at their home, Albie, and a cat named Pete.
Foster parents are provided with supplies to care for the pet, so there is no cost to volunteers. They also receive training, so prior experience with animals is not necessary. Animals can spend anywhere from a few days to a few months in foster care, depending on the pet’s individual needs and the foster parent’s availability.
Visit ddfl.org/foster to become a Dumb Friends League foster parent or to learn more about the foster care program.
Have a story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it, click here to share your story!