Foster Parents Open Heart and Homes to Homeless Animals: Orange County Animal Services Expands Foster Care Program
Orange County Animal Services (OCAS) has expanded efforts to recruit additional animal-loving residents to join the shelter’s active foster care force by holding a series of recruiting sessions. Members of the foster care team provide temporary home and care to pets in need. Animals qualifying for foster care have short-term needs and may be sick, injured, fearful or most commonly, too young for adoption.
During the last fiscal year OCAS, Orange County’s only open admission shelter, took-in 17,496 homeless pets. Even with soaring intake numbers, the shelter achieved several months of record-breaking adoption numbers. Experts find, that one key component to a successful adoption can be attributed to a healthy fostering experience through a loving home.
With the help of the OCAS foster parent network, more than 500 of those pets were fostered last year. Fostering is critical to the shelter’s success, because it helps ease capacity and also provides animals that thrive, require one-on-one care or additional attention with those needs. Often tiny kittens, puppies and animals with special needs or those just overwhelmed by a shelter setting, do much better in a foster home as they wait for a forever family.
“Presently, there are 198 pets in foster care,” said OCAS’ new Program Coordinator of Adoption and Foster Care Amy Sullivan. “We are beyond appreciative for their dedication. Foster parents help fill a need that we cannot. Despite wanting to give each and every one of them our undivided attention, with so many animals in shelter at times, we can’t. But with the help of our foster parents, we are able to give the animals here at OCAS a bit more TLC, all while knowing that the dogs and cats placed in foster are also getting all the love they need.”
Foster parents care for and provide key socialization qualities to the animals they foster for anywhere between two weeks to two months. The easiest part is loving them, but of course, the most difficult role of a foster parent is returning the animal to the shelter for a prospective adoption. With that said, most find comfort knowing that over the past fiscal year, animals that returned from foster care were adopted or rescued within an average of four days.
OCAS foster parent Beth Otto, who has been an active member of the program since 2009 and says that although they fall in love with each foster they nurture, letting go allows the foster parent to impact and save another life.
A great way to learn more and decide if fostering is a fit is to attend an orientation and learn more about the shelter and the program. While previously only offered on select dates throughout the year, OCAS has begun scheduling a series of regular orientations for prospective foster parents.
The first session held in October, garnered 10 new prospective foster parents for the program. The next information session will be held on Saturday, Nov. 4. Those interested in attending are asked to complete an online application at www.ocfl.net/foster.
Photo Caption: Beth Otto, longtime foster parent and volunteer, talks to class about experience fostering hundreds of animals.