Foster Pet of the Day

Photo submitted by Dottie Berzins

Photo submitted by Dottie Berzins

Submitted by reader Dottie who writes:

Gemma was found emaciated, dragging a heavy tow chain with wounds on her body, in Roseville, east of Detroit. She was taken off the streets by a woman who couldn’t keep her and she was on her way to Michigan Humane. Saw her on Facebook and another woman offered a temporary foster until finder could get her into rescue if someone could transport. That’s where I got involved. Since then, I have paid to have her vetted, brought up-to-date on vaccinations and had her spayed. She was heartworm negative and is now on preventative.

Gemma has been with her “temporary foster” for almost three months now and the finder has pretty much dropped out of the picture. She has gained weight, is learning some basic commands and some “house manners”. We figured she was chained outside for her entire 3 – 4 years.

She’s been around dogs and cats, no problems with either. She LOVES people! She has an exuberance for life and would probably need to be with older children since she could knock over tiny ones without meaning to hurt them.

Gemma is with a foster in southwestern lower Michigan but I am willing to transport (I live about 2 hours away). I would likely be the contact since I’ve taken on a lot of the responsibility for finding her rescue/foster/adopter. I’m in touch with her foster and have visited her once. The biggest issue now is that her foster pulls seniors and “unadoptables” and Gemma is neither, so they can’t help any other dogs. They love her, but she is more than ready for her forever home.

If you are able to foster Gemma or are interested in adopting her, please leave a comment for Dottie on this post. And please share her post in your social media circles so Gemma can find her special person. Thank you.

Rescue Group Denies Foster Family’s Request to Adopt

Kaiya at home with her family, including her photobomb cat, as shown on the WOWT website.

Kaiya at home with her family, including her photobomb cat, as shown on the WOWT website.

Most readers are probably familiar with the term “foster fail”, used to describe the situation which arises when an owner intends to provide a temporary foster home for a pet in need but ends up falling in love with the animal and deciding he can’t part with the pet.  It happens a lot, primarily because foster owners tend to be compassionate animal lovers and the heart doesn’t always fall in line with the head.  It’s a win for the pet since, instead of adjusting to a foster family then being placed in a strange home environment with a permanent adopter, she gets to stay with the family to whom she has already grown attached.  And it’s a win for the rescue group since it’s one less pet in need of advertising, transporting to adoption events and screening applicants for, potentially opening up a space for another animal in need.

The Wilson family in Omaha began fostering a senior dog named Kaiya for Golden Retriever Rescue in Nebraska (GRRIN) one year ago.  They opened their home and hearts to Kaiya and recently decided the bond they’d developed with her was too precious to break.  The family let GRRIN know they wanted to go ahead and officially become Kaiya’s permanent family.  But GRRIN denied the family’s request, without providing any reason, and the group’s president came to the Wilson’s home to take Kaiya away:

Roger Wilson even told the President he was filming a recent interaction when the President came to the Wilson home. The President can be heard on camera telling Wilson, “I’m not going to talk to you about this on camera, I’m here to transport Kaiya.”

The Wilsons had taken Kaiya to their daughter’s home ahead of the president’s visit in order to protect her from being taken.  They are vowing to fight for Kaiya:

“I’m not going to give her up,” said Wilson. “I’ll fight tooth and nail all the way to the end. The dog belongs with us.”

GRRIN’s president told WOWT that an 11 person volunteer board will hear an appeal regarding the adoption at some unspecified future date.  He refused to comment on any legal action the group might take to gain custody of the dog.

GRRIN’s online listing for Kaiya has been removed from its website but the cached version indicates the page was posted in May 2014 and reads:

I am a 7 year old sweetheart. Yep that’s me. I love to hang out, play a little, and cuddle. I do like to play with a ball or a toy, but mostly I like snuggling up. I have terrific house manners and have been trustworthy in the house. Sometimes I get a little frightened but you know how it is when things are new, they can be a little scary. I get along great with cats and am learning to like my foster dog buddy, and I might be ok around much older children. Fast movements can scare me a little. If you like to snuggle, I might be the girl for you.

GRRIN seems to acknowledge that Kaiya was frightened in the first few months while adjusting to her new home environment.  This would not be unusual for any foster dog, especially a senior.  The video accompanying the WOWT story clearly shows how comfortable Kaiya now is with the Wilson family.  But GRRIN apparently thinks it’s in Kaiya’s best interest to take her safe and secure home away from her and place her in another strange environment.  And they won’t say why.

It sounds like another case of a rescue deeming a home good, but not good enough.  In this case it’s particularly bizarre since GRRIN obviously believed the Wilsons were fine as a foster family for an entire year.  Does the group place foster dogs with people they feel are unsuitable to own pets?  Why was Kaiya’s adoption denied?  Is GRRIN one of those groups that believe that good homes need not apply to adopt pets?  A rescue group that doesn’t rejoice at a foster fail is puzzling, to say the least.  How many people, probably including the Wilsons, are learning about Kaiya’s story and deciding fostering is a terrible idea?

Further, this story is yet another illustration of why it’s so dangerous for pounds to send cats to rescuers without holding them first so their owners can reclaim them.  There is little to no legal accountability for rescue groups regarding adoption screening.  They can deny anyone a pet, anytime, for any reason – or as in Kaiya’s case, for no reason at all.  They can deny someone who has clearly been providing a loving, long-term home to a pet while refusing to discuss the matter. This is not what rescue is supposed to be.

(Thanks Clarice for sending me this story.)

SC Pound Policy: Take Newborn Kittens Away from Nursing Mothers and Kill Them

Mama cat and newborn kittens, saved by a member of the public.  Because kittens.  (photo by Casey post)

Mama cat and newborn kittens, saved by a member of the public in Ohio. Because kittens. (photo by Casey Post)

The Greenville Co pound in SC has implemented two new policies concerning cats:

1. Kittens born at the pound who weigh less than 100 grams will be taken from their mothers and killed immediately.  The reason, as stated in an e-mail written by Susan Bufano, the community relations coordinator for the Greenville Co pound, in response to a concerned citizen:

It is not a normal, healthy birth weight and our vet has determined that they will probably not survive.

“Probably not” indicates to me an inherent admission that there is some hope for survival. And I think that hope is very reasonable, considering the following:

  • The ASPCA says 100 grams is “an average birth weight for kittens… depending on breed and litter size.”  Average means some kittens will weigh a little more than 100 grams, some a little less.  Size of the mother cat and number of kittens in the litter must be taken into account when evaluating birth weight of each individual.
  • This government study which looked at newborn kitten weights in five different cat breeds found that only two breeds, Maine Coon and the Norwegian Forest Cat (both large cats), had kittens which averaged more than 100 grams at birth.  The other three breeds studied – Birman, Persian, and Siamese/Oriental Shorthair – all had kittens whose average weight at birth was between 82 and 97 grams.
  • A random veterinarian I found via Google wrote: “Kittens have a normal birth weight of 100 ± 10 g (3.5 ± 0.35 oz). Kittens with a birth weight of less than 90 g (3.2 oz) have poor survival rates.”

Given this information, it’s not at all clear to me that the Greenville Co pound policy is based in science.  That is, the notion that kittens weighing less than 100 grams at birth “will probably not survive” appears dubious, at best.  And to be clear, taking newborn kittens of any weight away from their nursing mothers in order to kill them is something only monsters would do.  Kittens have a right to live and their mothers have the right to care for them.  No animal “shelter” policy trumps those rights.  Any “shelter” staff members who do not recognize that fact should resign immediately, before any additional animals are harmed due to their failures.

The other new policy at the pound:

2. Orphaned kittens under one pound are deemed “rescue only” and must leave the shelter within three hours. The reason, per Ms. Bufano’s e-mail:

We want our fosters to focus on the animals who have the highest likelihood for survival[.]

It was so hard on wonderful, loving fosters to take these neonate kittens home only for them not to thrive (and, the small weight also ended up indicating illness in the mothers) and pass away, regardless of how hard they cared for them. I witnessed the agony of many fosters who blamed themselves, when we all know that some kittens just don’t make it. They will be fine one day and die the next.

So, the decision was made to save the animals that had the most chance at survival. In doing so, we are anticipating more life saving, not less.

Wow, apparently it takes a whole mountain of bullshit to allow monsters to sleep at night.

By branding pets “rescue only”, shelters shut out an enormous pool of potential help:  the general public.  It’s not a good strategy to increase lifesaving.  Also bad:  using phony we-care-about-rescuers’-feelings as an excuse for killing kittens.  How did someone even think this twisted thing up?  Also also bad:  requiring rescue groups, typically operated out of people’s homes on shoestring budgets, to somehow get orphaned kittens out of the Greenville Co pound within three hours of arrival.

Rescuers often have day jobs, families, and other pets in need of care and will rarely be in a position to drop everything in order to quickly snatch kittens from the kill room at the pound.  That is, assuming the pound has promptly notified rescue contacts by mental telepathy since e-mail or voicemail obviously won’t suffice in these situations.  How would you like to be the rescuer who checks her e-mail at lunch or after work and finds out a litter of orphaned kittens you would have been willing to save was killed by Greenville Co because you didn’t check your messages sooner?  How is threatening to kill newborn orphaned kittens consistent with the county’s purported concern for rescuers’ emotional well-being?

While those who kill shelter pets instead of doing their jobs often blame the so-called irresponsible public for the killing, it is the shelter staff, following antiquated and inhumane policies designed to kill pets instead of helping them, who are to blame for the killing.  In fact, no rescuers, fosters, adopters and no one outside of the Greenville Co pound should blame themselves for the needless killing being done there.

Greenville Co pretends to be interested in lifesaving and pretends to care about the emotional toll taken on the compassionate public willing to help shelter pets, all the while implementing policies so cruel and archaic, no one with a conscience need perform more than a cursory examination to determine how heartless and inconsistent with animal sheltering those policies are.  Shame on Greenville Co for pretending to care.  There are few worse things in this world.  And they do those there, too.

Added, April 19, 2014:

Bringing up from the comments, from spaycritter, for those wanting to know who to contact about the needless killing of kittens at the Greenville Co pound:

Just an FYI– emails/calls to GCACS will be spun into gold.. Seriously , they will be said to “create drama , and take away from the staff’s ability to care for the animals in our facility”… at least , that’s what has been said on past attempts to shine a light. A better tactic is to contact the bosses of the boss..Here is contact info for those interested
Go to the county admin and county council..And since Greenville County contracts with Spartanburg County, contacting the same offices of S’burg county would be good..



Proposed Legislation in MA Would Impact Shelters, Rescues and Fosters

Massachusetts is considering a set of state regulations that would subject foster homes to inspection by the Department of Agriculture, require rescue groups to register with the state every 12 months and establish minimum standards of care for shelters, rescues and foster homes.  These standards of care include:

  • Animals must be removed from cages during disinfection which is required “periodically and always before introducing a new animal.”
  • Animals must be kept clean and dry.
  • Veterinary care must be provided in a timely manner.
  • Animals must be allowed exercise outside their cages “regularly” and “be housed in compatible groups without overcrowding”.
  • Facility must maintain a temperature between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, including offsite adoption events.

Some additional notes from the proposed regulations:

  • Wire cage flooring is acceptable provided it meets some vague criteria.
  • Euthanasia must be performed by a veterinarian or a trained individual under the direction of a vet in accordance with AVMA guidelines.
  • “No Organization may offer for sale, advertise, or transfer” any animal who tests positive for heartworm or shows signs of other internal or external parasites.
  • Groups wanting to import dogs and cats must register every 12 months with the state.  Imported dogs and cats must have an Official Certificate of Veterinary Inspection issued by a vet in the animal’s state of origin and must have been recently vaccinated.  Imported pets, other than owner surrenders from the New England states and New York, must be taken upon arrival to an isolation facility for 48 hours.  After the mandatory isolation period, the pet must be taken to a vet and receive a health certificate in order to be released from isolation.

Some MA animal welfare groups are unhappy with the proposed regulations.  If you live in MA, you have very little time left to make your voice heard:

The Department of Agriculture says it wants to hear your opinion on the proposed rules. You have until October 8th to give the state your feedback.


If you’d like to send the Department of Agriculture your comments regarding the proposed regulations, please email Michael Cahill at:

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

UPDATED: NC Kittens Need Foster Home

Update: September 8, 2013 – The kittens have found a foster. Thank you everyone.

Kittens in need of foster - Yanceyville, NC (photo by Dot Kirby)

Kittens in need of foster – Yanceyville, NC (photo by Dot Kirby)

Reader Dot rescued this orphaned litter of 3 week old kittens from the landfill – which is where they’ll be sent if she takes them to her local pound.  Dot has a full house of canine fosters and is unable to care for these kittens.  They are not eating solid food yet and will need to be bottle fed for a little while longer before they transition.  If anyone can help, please contact:

Dot Kirby

Yanceyville, NC

If you are unable to foster, please share so we can find a good place for these kittens.

Oh!  Here’s a video of them being all kitteny adorable!


UPDATED: Urgent: Pets in Need of Foster in New Orleans

UPDATE, added August 21, 2013:  All 4 pets have foster care lined up.  Thank you to everyone who shared.

Original post:

Reader Melissa and her family are heading for a homeless shelter.  She is hoping to find immediate foster homes for her 4 pets as the shelter will not allow them.  She posted her story on Facebook and has given me permission to post her contact info here.   If you can offer any assistance, please call Melissa at (225)567-5057 or e-mail her. If you can’t help out yourself, please share with your animal loving friends so we can find care for these 4 pets. Melissa wants to stress that her hope is to be in a position to reclaim all 4 pets as soon as possible as they are beloved family members.

The following photos and captions are all taken from Facebook.

"Sugar is a 4 year old spayed female. She is very obedient and well behaved. She is housetrained, crate trained, and gets along with cats, other dogs, small children, and people of all shapes sizes and ages. She is microchipped."

“Sugar is a 4 year old spayed female. She is very obedient and well behaved. She is housetrained, crate trained, and gets along with cats, other dogs, small children, and people of all shapes sizes and ages. She is microchipped.”

"Tasha is a 13 year old spayed female. She was originally rescued after Hurricane Katrina. She is very quiet and a little shy, but very sweet. She has lived in lots of different places and been around a lot of different people. She gets along with cats, other dogs, and small children as well, and is perfectly housetrained and also crate trained. She is very well mannered and calm and just likes to have a little spot to rest."

“Tasha is a 13 year old spayed female. She was originally rescued after Hurricane Katrina. She is very quiet and a little shy, but very sweet. She has lived in lots of different places and been around a lot of different people. She gets along with cats, other dogs, and small children as well, and is perfectly housetrained and also crate trained. She is very well mannered and calm and just likes to have a little spot to rest.”

"Mr. Towel is a 3 year old neutered male who is very calm and easy to care for in the house and gets along with other cats, dogs, and small kids. He is microchipped."

“Mr. Towel is a 3 year old neutered male who is very calm and easy to care for in the house and gets along with other cats, dogs, and small kids. He is microchipped.”

"Kitty Kumquats is a 5 year old spayed female. She gets along with other cats, dogs, and small kids. She is very well behaved and easy to care for. She is microchipped."

“Kitty Kumquats is a 5 year old spayed female. She gets along with other cats, dogs, and small kids. She is very well behaved and easy to care for. She is microchipped.”

I am keeping a good thought for you Melissa, and for your entire (human and pet) family.

Foster Pet of the Day

Carter, a foster dog available for adoption in CA.

Carter, a foster dog available for adoption in CA.

Submitted by Marji who writes:

Carter is currently living with me in Grass Valley. He is a foster dog of Center for Animal Protection & Education (CAPE) :
PO Box 67176
Scotts Valley, CA 95067-7176

carter aCarter is a 7-yr-old mastiff mix with a big head and bigger heart! He is blind, but that doesn’t deter him from exploring his world with enthusiasm and joy. He was adopted from Palo Alto Animal Services 7 years ago at the age of 4-months. When he was 6, his guardians returned him to the shelter without realizing he was blind. Once they found out, they took him back, keeping him for another year before realizing that caring for two toddlers and a galumphy 75-lb dog was too difficult.

Lucky for Carter, I was excited to foster him! He is a gentle-natured dog who is far easier to care for and more low-maintenance than my 14.5-yr-old 35-lb dog! He knows sit, come, stay, down. He LOVES tennis balls. Sometimes you have to pat the ground next to the tennis ball and he’ll pounce like a puppy! He runs zoomies around the yard and figures out new spaces pretty quickly.

Carter just wants a permanent retirement home, preferably with someone who is home part of the day (he loves his people).

The rescue I am fostering for would probably be willing to transport him out of state, but I’d really love someone who can meet him first…and maybe wouldn’t mind sending me updates about how awesome he is!

He would do best as an only dog, but he might do well with a large, older, VERY tolerant dog. Not many dogs can tolerate it when his nearly 80-lb frame runs into them.

Shirley, I’m really surprised to still have Carter. I guess I knew he’d be more difficult to place but living with him? He’s so easy! I’ve had him for two months and would really just love it if he could find a home where he gets all the attention he deserves.

Not That Size Matters…

When I attended a workshop at the 2011 No Kill Conference that included Susanne Kogut on the panel, she mentioned that at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA (where she was director at that time), 39% of intake went to foster.  In 2011, CASPCA took in 3828 dogs and cats.  That works out to nearly 1500 pets in foster care. Wikipedia has the combined population of the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle Co, both of which are served by CASPCA, at 118,398.

At the January 31 board of directors meeting of  New York City Animal Care and Control, Interim Executive Director Risa Weinstock addressed the subject of fostering.  She explained recent developments:

The AC&C has created a fast-track program just for fosters. Until recently, fosters had to take all the training courses expected of a shelter volunteer.  With the new streamlined process, Weinstock said the AC&C  recently added 17 new people who could be fosters.

Patrick Nolan, newly named Chairman of NYC ACC, spoke up to say that he was an approved foster himself and asked how many people the shelter has on the foster list.  Ms. Weinstock reportedly answered that there were 47 people on the foster list.  Bear in mind that 17 of them were just added under this new fast-track program.  So there were 30 until very recently.  And one of them is the chairman of the pound.  I am presuming the other 29 people are regular citizens but I don’t know.

NYC is home to more than 8 million people.  In the past couple of years, NYC ACC has been taking in roughly 30,000 animals a year.  If NYC ACC were to send 39% of intake out to foster like CASPCA does, that would indicate a need for about 11,700 foster placements.  But until recently, the pound had only found 29 people (who aren’t the chairman) willing to foster out of 8 million.  How hard are they looking?  How committed are they to saving pets’ lives?  Fostering is a key program in the No Kill Equation.  I wouldn’t recommend ignoring it.

So yeah, it’s great that NYC ACC’s new fast-track program has significantly increased the foster list.  But if NYC is aiming to one day save more than 90% of its pets like Charlottesville does every year, the pound is going to need a fastER-track program to develop any sort of foster program that will have a meaningful impact on lifesaving.  If anyone on the board is concerned with that.

(Thank you Anne D. for the link.)

Pre-Announcement Announcement

I was going to wait until I had more info to share, such as a name and other important items, but I am too happy to wait.  So this is the pre-announcement announcing the arrival of a new beagley family member, who will be announced in more detail in an upcoming announcement.

This little girl was in a catch and kill pound which allows someone in to photograph dogs.  The photographer then sends out an e-mail with the pictures and that e-mail gets forwarded by various pet advocates.  Someone forwarded me the e-mail containing the beagle pic one week ago and with the help of some people I’ve never met, the dog was pulled, fostered and transported to within 90 minutes of me.  I picked her up yesterday.

The ride home.  Those toenails were trimmed shortly after arrival.

The ride home. Those toenails were trimmed shortly after arrival.

Her bones are sticking out, half her tail got left somewhere at some point and she looks generally like she’s been through the wringer.  But she is as gentle and sweet as can be.  She’s been sleeping in one of the beagle beds like she has never slept before in her life.  She’s only gotten up when it’s time to eat or to go out and potty.  We have a vet appointment today for a tune-up and an all points inspection.  You can count on seeing an update on this gal very soon.

Thank you so kindly to everyone who sent me beagles in need.  And of course to those who helped me get this sweet dog home.


I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. – Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

Foster Pet of the Day

Tiger is an adoptable cat in New York City.  (photo submitted by Anne Davis)

Tiger is an adoptable cat in New York City. (photo submitted by Anne Davis)

Submitted by Anne who writes:

I pulled a cat off the kill list at the NYCACC a week before xmas because a woman in VA said she wanted him. After he was delivered to me the potential adopter backed out. Now I have this cat in my tiny apt. with 3 other cats. He is so sweet, healthy, mushy lovebug, neutered 3 yr. old who loves other cats. I love him but due to space and finances can’t keep him. I just want to make sure Tiger ends up in a wonderful, cat loving home with another playful cat. Tiger is very playful and affectionate.

Tiger in NYC (photo submitted by Anne Davis)

Tiger in NYC (photo submitted by Anne Davis)

Anyone interested in learning more about Tiger should e-mail Anne.