The new foster program at Olympic Peninsula Humane Society is set up to facilitate a quality fostering experience for Clallam County residents and the dogs and cats that they help.
OPHS is now seeking more foster families to participate in the program.
“We really need the support of our animal-loving community to help with the pets that do not do well in the shelter,” OPHS Executive Director Luanne Hinkle said. “Being in a home is always preferred and helps the animals thrive and get adopted.”
No matter how well a shelter is run, staff and volunteers said, animals do best in a home-like environment. The training, routines and company provided by fosters in a temporary home cultivate stability, peace and consistency for the animals, which help them show their non-stressed personality, which in turn increases their chances of finding a forever home, they said.
“We realized pretty early on that having many animals in foster care at once required a strong infrastructure in place to provide needed support to families,” Hinkle said.
OPHS receives a $20,000 grant from ASPCA Northern Tier Initiative to devote staff and consultant time to develop a program full of systems and procedures.
“It is a very noble endeavor to be a foster family,” Hinkle said. “Some of these animals could go downhill rapidly without this service. Our fosters really do save lives.”
Foster families receive full training, a comprehensive care manual and all necessary supplies. In addition to back-up from staff, including veterinary help, OPHS has a web-based resource page with bite-sized pieces of information by subject so caregivers can quickly look up a myriad of topics from training and socialization to concerns about animal health, a foster mentor program and an app called Maddie’s Pet Assistant.
“We thought everything through so foster families are fully supported,” Hinkle said.
Fosters can volunteer for varying lengths of time, from a weekend to until adoption or as hospice for animals on their last legs.
“Hospice animals are better in a home — their last days can be much less stressful,” said Jacklyn Peterson, a foster volunteer.
Peterson said that some people want a pet but can’t have one and fostering may work for them.
“A foster home is the best place the animals can be, short of their forever homes,” she said.
Peterson said that every fostered animal makes more space at the shelter for another animal, thus fosters can potentially save two animals by caring for one.
According to Hinkle, 23 foster applications are in the system, and if OPHS could double that, about 200 animals total could be fostered in the upcoming year. However, Hinkle said, OPHS would like to have at least a quarter of its animals fostered.
OPHS, which is the only no-kill shelter which accepts all types of domestic animals and serves all of Clallam County, adopts about 1,200 animals a year.
Applying to be a foster starts with filling out an application found online at the OPHS website at ophumanesociety.org/foster-program
Those who want to help but can’t foster at this time, OPHS can use other types of volunteer assistance or monetary support. Get more information at ophumanesociety.org.