The Coast News Group
13-year-old Lady will spend the holidays in a loving home after getting much-needed medical care at the San Diego Humane Society. Courtesy photo

Animal welfare groups ask residents to foster dogs

REGION — With pet shelters in San Diego County full to bursting with dogs of all sizes, local animal welfare organizations have started Project Dog Foster to help make fostering furry friends easier and more accessible.

Six members of the San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition joined to create the countywide campaign to find foster homes for the dogs to alleviate the overcrowded shelters, even if just for a short period of time.

“The lifesaving benefits of fostering cannot be overstated,” said Dr. Gary Weitzman, president and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society. “Temporarily opening your heart and home to a pet offers the personal attention and vital security that our shelter animals need. We also learn characteristics about that animal that will help find a better match when speaking to potential adopters.”

Participating organizations include City of Chula Vista Animal Services, Frosted Faces Foundation, PAWS of Coronado, Rancho Coastal Humane Society, San Diego County Department of Animal Services and SDHS.

“Unfortunately, more than 40% of our dogs have been available for adoption for 30 days or longer, and we currently have five dogs who have been in care for more than a year,” said Carl Smith, interim director at the
county’s Department of Animal Services. “Fortunately, when you foster with any of our organizations, we provide all the supplies, so there is no cost to you while fostering.”

Whatever organization a potential pet foster parent chooses will cover the costs of food, supplies and medical care. Regardless of how long you take care of a pet, any break from crowded shelter environments is believed to be beneficial for them.

“Many pets don’t show their true personalities in a kennel setting,” said Mikalla McFadden, director of Foster Programs, Rancho Coastal Humane Society. “In a foster home, pets can decompress and blossom into a loving companion that potential adopters are looking for.”

Between the six organizations, there are more than 1,100 dogs ready for a new environment, with the most urgent need for medium to large dogs – many of whom are experiencing kennel stress after more than six months in care.

“Fostering a senior dog might be easier than you think,” said Andrew Smísek, co-founder of Frosted Faces Foundation. “They often have lower energy levels and require less exercise. If you’d rather take a nap with your dog than take it on a run, consider fostering a senior dog.”

Project Dog Foster,, has a list of guidelines and a helpful map of the nearest animal welfare organization to you. Some requirements include:

  • The main volunteer must be at least 18 years old;
  • Reliable transportation to and from veterinary appointments and in
    case of emergency;
  • Potential foster parents must reside in San Diego County;
  • A schedule allowing the needs of the dog to be met; and
    Completion of online training prior to fostering your first pet.

“Fostering a dog is rewarding in so many ways,” said Ashley Milo, deputy director of animal services, Chula Vista. “You get to see them enjoy life through play, exploration and cuddles. Capturing their goofy escapades and inspiring awe with the soft and cuddly moments, you get to tell their stories.

“You also give them back a sense of normalcy, all while helping them find a family to call their own,” Milo said. “What can be more rewarding than that?”

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