Now Is The Perfect Time To Foster! Dr. Dana Varble, DVM, & Fur Angels Animal Sanctuary Explain Why

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(Picture Credit: Eugenio Marongiu/Getty Images)

It seems like many of us have a lot more time on our hands these days. Maybe Netflix just isn’t holding the same intrigue it did in the beginning of March, or maybe you could use an extra warm bundle to snuggle up with during the late-season snows in some parts of the US.

Happily, many people have decided that now would be an ideal time to foster a dog. With shelter in place rules and humans spending more time at home, fostering can provide companionship, as well as a way to help animals.

DogTime got a chance to get thoughts from veterinarian Dr. Dana Varble and Amber Kay of Fur Angels Animal Sanctuary about why now is a perfect time to help shelters and rescues by fostering animals in need.

Dr. Varble Talks Fostering During Shelter In Place


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“This the perfect time to foster or adopt a dog. In fact, we know that animal shelters are definitely seeing adoptions increase,” says Dr. Dana Varble, DVM, Chief Veterinary Officer for the North American Veterinary Community (NAVC).

“The whole family can be involved in early training. While socialization will be limited, there is a huge advantage in multiple family members being able to interact with a new pet.

“Also, remember that many studies on the human-animal bond have shown the health benefits and stress reduction when we have a pet!”

Fur Angels Animal Sanctuary Says Fostering And Adoption Are Up!

Amber Kay, Founder and President of Fur Angels Animal Sanctuary, based in the Chicagoland area, shared her perspective with DogTime about what it’s like for their rescue right now and why now is a great time to consider fostering or adopting.

AMANDA: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us about your animal rescue. How’s it going for animals out there?

AMBER: Fortunately, a lot of people are stepping up to help animals. What you see out there in the community is people trying to help each other and trying to help animals–for many, these animals are part of their family.

A lot of shelters are actually empty because people are adopting!

I hope this builds awareness and the adoption and advocacy rates stay high, where people want to adopt instead of buy from pet stores/mills.

AMANDA: Are you seeing changes at Fur Angels? Is it unexpected?

AMBER: There was a fear in the animal community at first that people were going to surrender a ton of pets because of the mistaken fear of animals giving them the coronavirus. There was also a fear that people wouldn’t be able to afford to keep their animals. But actually, surrenders aren’t any higher than normal right now.

AMANDA: How many animals would you say have been adopted from Fur Angels since early March when shelter in place started to happen for cities in Illinois?

AMBER: Off the top of my head, a very conservative guess would be 40 to 50 animals have been adopted out. We are receiving applications for both adoptions and fostering every single day.

It’s wonderful! We hope people keep them coming. We always have more animals who need homes!

AMANDA: Has that also been overwhelming?

AMBER: We are all really busy at Fur Angels right now, but in a good way. We still want to make sure every foster applicant would be a good fit for our rescue, so we can’t loosen the screening just because there’s an increase.

One thing we have to consider right now is to ask people to be committed to fostering them until that animal is adopted–not just during this work-from-home time.

Why Is Now A Good Time To Be A Foster Pet Parent?

AMANDA: Do you think this is a good time to start the process of fostering?

AMBER: Absolutely. It has probably been so successful for so many because people are home right now, and that gives a period of time to help the animal to adjust, and the family to adjust to the animal! All this extra time and attention would help an animal transition more smoothly.

AMANDA: Are there also benefits for the foster pet parents?

AMBER: Definitely! There is lots of research on how having animals in the home provides positive mental health and well-being.

Teaching children love, compassion, and respect for animals teaches them so many important lessons. Children are our future.

How could you not love having animals around you? It’s amazing and beautiful.

I’m hoping people decide to foster right now so they see how wonderful of an experience it is, and how it’s easier than they think. Thousands of animals are put down every month, without ever being given a chance. I’m hoping that people see what a difference they make in fostering an animal.

They are saving their lives by opening up their homes to them.

Would You Make A Good Foster Pet Parent?

AMANDA: I love that! What goes into your rescue’s decision if a potential foster parent or adopter would be a good fit?

AMBER: There are a few questions we always ask ourselves: Do they have the right environment for the animals–a big enough dwelling for the size/type of animal? If the people have current pets, are those pets current on vet visits, vaccinations, etc.?

We have to make sure they can take care of the their own pets before they add more into their home.

Also, does everyone in the family agree to the form? We have to make sure everyone will respect and care for the animal, not just one person in the household.

AMANDA: How many foster care providers does Fur Angels have right now?

AMBER: About 110.

AMANDA: What’s it like to be a foster pet parent?

AMBER: It’s really special to be a foster home. You are giving the animal a home, a chance to be their best selves, with lots of attention and comfort.

Even when the animal goes onto their forever home, you have brought out their best selves; you have given them that chance at life. Shelters are really important, too, but to be in a home brings out the best in animals.

What Does Fur Angels Animal Sanctuary Do?

AMANDA: Tell us about your animal rescue.

AMBER: We care for dogs, cats, small animals, birds, and reptiles–any animal who needs a home. Opening the rescue in 2004 was realizing a childhood dream. I grew up in a deaf family, and I am deaf myself.

I was taught from a young age to have love, compassion, and respect for all animals. They feel everything we do–love, fear, hope. They bleed like we do.

Growing up, I had a lot of bullies, but the animals in our family were my best friends. They were always there for me, with love, without judgement. I promised them, as a little girl, that someday, I would pay them back for everything they had done for me by opening a rescue.

I couldn’t afford to build a physical shelter, but during my time helping deaf animals, I realized you could help them without needing a physical building, so a rescue was the perfect solution. Putting animals in homes shows their true selves.

AMANDA: That’s absolutely beautiful–happy tears over here! I am so impressed with your story and your rescue.

AMBER: Thank you. It’s not just me; Fur Angels would not be possible without all our foster families and volunteers.

AMANDA: That’s wonderful. What are you hoping will stay the same after all this strange shelter-in-place time is over?

AMBER: I am hoping people will realize that shelters are always overwhelmed–thousands of animals come in every month–it never ends. I hope people will continue to want to foster and adopt even when they have to go back to their jobs or back to school; it’s easier than a lot of people think, and there are so many benefits for both sides.

I also hope people will continue to adopt, rather than purchase animals from a pet store. If people stop buying animals, the puppy mills will go out of business.

There are too many homeless animals out there to justify using mills and filling up pet stores with them. Careful breeders will not breed on a mass scale, and they take care to breed out genetic conditions to produce healthier, happier animals.

How Can You Help Animals Right Now?

AMANDA: How can people find out about the animals Fur Angels has available?

AMBER: A lot of them are on our website, or they can reach out over email or Facebook. We are also on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter. We have a lot of dogs right now, both purebreds and mixed breeds! We’d love to help you add one to your family.

AMANDA: If someone can’t adopt, foster, or volunteer right now, is there anything they could do to help Fur Angels?

AMBER: Yes! People can donate to us on our website. We are completely volunteer-based; no one gets paid, including me.

Because we are based in foster homes and have no physical building for our organization, we also have no rent to pay. That means that 100 percent of any donation goes directly to the care of our animals. We are very proud of that.

Follow Up With NAVC And Fur Angels Animal Sancutary

Thank you so much to Dr. Varble and Amber for their time!

  • To find out more about the North American Veterinary Community, please visit their website here.
  • To find out more about Fur Angels Animal Sanctuary, please visit their website here.

Have you ever fostered a dog before? What was it like? Do you think now is an especially good time for people to start fostering? Then let us know in the comments below!