Shy pets seeking foster homes

Shy Cat

Cats and dogs at the Dumb Friends League that are fearful, withdrawn or struggling in the shelter environment are the focus of a new behavior foster program that aims to help these pets become better candidates for adoption.

For many years, our Homes with Hearts foster program has provided temporary, in-home care to pets that are too young to be adopted or are recovering from an injury or illness. Animal Behavior Manager Marissa Martino says the new behavior foster program was created to serve a small population of pets that are not benefiting from our in-house behavior programs and need to get out of the shelter in order to shift their behavior.

Says Martino, “These are animals with behavior issues, such as overstimulated cats or fearful dogs, but they are not aggressive. They may even be pets that come from homes where they had a good history, but are now having a hard time engaging in behavior training. These cats and dogs shut down in the shelter. Consequently, they don’t do well in our training programs because shutting down causes them to be uninterested in treats and attention, which are the rewards we use to teach new behaviors.”

Pets that qualify for the program are placed in the homes of foster volunteers who have received special training in working with cats and dogs that have behavior issues. These volunteers take our Foster 101 training followed by four hours of hands-on training in behavior modification techniques and tips for setting up their homes to best accomplish the training goals. We currently have 34 behavior foster volunteers, and 136 cats and 46 dogs have been enrolled in the program.

Behavior foster pets typically spend one to four weeks in foster care, and all supplies—including food, bedding, litter, litter boxes and training supplies—are provided by the Dumb Friends League free of charge.

To learn more about the behavior foster program and upcoming training dates, please contact Volunteer Services Manager Megan Newhouse at (720) 241-7094 or To complete a foster volunteer application, visit