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Forsyth County Animal Shelter needs fosters, showcases new volunteer opportunities
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A kitten peers out of an open cage at the Forsyth County Animal Shelter. - photo by Emily Saunders

Forsyth County Animal Shelter is putting out a call for fosters and volunteers. With limited contact due to COVID-19, Kathryn Gaglio, program coordinator for the animal shelter, said recruitment for fosters and volunteers is difficult.

Gaglio and the rest of her team are beginning a Volunteer Foster Care Program featuring Doggy Days Out and fostering for dogs, cats and kittens.

“The program that we’ve got set up right now, it’s set up so that no matter what your time commitment is, there is an animal that we can fit to your time commitment,” Gaglio said. “Whether you have a couple months, a day, a couple of hours, there’s an animal that needs your time.”

The shelter is offering long-term and short-term fostering in the form of different programs.

Doggy Day Out: Allows volunteers to check out a dog for a few hours or a whole day to take them on a walk, cuddle at home or go for a car ride. The time commitment for this is a few hours to a day.

Weekend Warrior: Allows volunteers to take a dog home for the weekend. This allows someone to foster who has tight time constraints. Any information that you learn about the dog you are fostering will better help the shelter match it to a potential adopter in the future. The time commitment for this option is four days.

Dog and Adult Cat Fostering: Some cats and dogs do not acclimate well to shelter life and would do better in a foster home environment. Foster parents must be willing to bring animals to adoption appointments and wellness checks. The time commitment for this option is until the animal is adopted.

Kitten Fostering: This is the greatest need for the shelter during the spring and summer. Kitten fosters provide a space for kittens to grow, learn social skills and develop healthy immune systems. The time commitment for this option is from birth to two months.

Fospice (Foster and Hospice): Some animals at the shelter have a medical condition that will shorten its lifespans. The shelter prefers to have these animals spend time in a loving home. All medical care for the animals is provided by the Forsyth County Animal Shelter. The time commitments depend on the situation.

Forsyth County Animal Shelter
Senior bully mix Loki, 8, would love to be taken out by a Weekend Warrior for a break from the shelter. - photo by Ashlyn Yule

Gaglio said occasionally the shelter will get an “odd animal” such as pigs, chickens, goats, horses and cows. She said that having fosters with barn-like environments that these animals could thrive in would be beneficial.

“Fostering is difficult because you form attachments to your animals, but it is so worthwhile because honestly and truly, when shelters say, you’re saving a life by fostering, you are,” Gaglio said.

She said fosters will have round-the-clock veterinary services in case of emergency. All supplies and medical care will be provided by the Forsyth County Animal Shelter.

Forsyth County Animal Shelter
Bull Terrier mix Conner, 7, is in need of a loving foster while he goes through heartworm treatment. - photo by Ashlyn Yule

“My running joke with our fosters is if you call me at 2 a.m., I might not answer right away, but there’s always someone who is there to help,” Gaglio said. “No matter what your question is, there’s an answer for it, and we’ll always make sure our fosters are supported.”

With kitten season approaching, Gaglio hopes to recruit more kitten fosters. Gaglio said kittens have a “drastically lower” mortality rate living in foster homes than they do living in shelters during the first few months of their lives because the chances of diseases spreading between kittens is much lower.

“It’s critical that we have fosters that can care for [kittens],” Gaglio said. “The shelter environment is just not the best place for them, even though our staff is phenomenal with them and take them in as their own little babies. The best and safest place for [kittens] is really going to be in a foster home.”

She said there are some signs to look out for to help sick kittens this spring and summer if you are unable to foster.

Forsyth County Animal Shelter
Boxer Lab mix Libby, 6, is in need of a loving foster while he goes through heartworm treatment. - photo by Ashlyn Yule

“If a kitten looks clean, fat and happy, chances are, mom’s somewhere nearby,” Gaglio said.

Gaglio said that the best course of action is to leave the kittens alone so that the mother can take care of them. However, she did recommend monitoring the kittens to make sure they were not going hungry or getting sick, at which point, she recommended bringing the kittens to a shelter.

To apply to become a foster or learn about other volunteer opportunities with Forsyth County Animal Shelter, visit https://www.forsythco.com/Departments-Offices/Animal-Shelter.

“Weekend slumber parties, doggy days out, those are all critical to our animals here,” Gaglio said. “Plus, taking some of the animals out for the day makes you feel good. You know that you’re spoiling them by taking that car ride or going to McDonald’s, just seeing their happy faces. And I think that’s something we all need right now – to do things that make us feel good.”

“Fostering truly does save lives,” she said. “Saving one dog or cat will not change the world, but for that one dog or cat you will change their world.”