Category Archives: foster

What an Amazing Adoption Count this past Weekend!

Adrienne Balfour Huertas's photo.

“I am so thankful to all the FOSTER HOMES who clean up, transport, love and train our dogs so we can have weekends like this.

These adoptions are Harris County Veterinary Public Health Division dogs, who, mostly, had run out of time in the shelter.
(Editor’s note: When a dog runs out of time it is killed by shelter staff. )

If you’d like to become a foster for K-9 Angels Rescue – Houston, TX please send me a message.”

Mary Tipton
Co-founder and Intake Coordinator
Mary@k-9AngelsRescue.org

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Strut Your Mutt for a Cause (2015)

Brian Yeager, Natalie Freed

Brian Yeager and Natalie Freed enjoying last year’s Strut Your Mutt event
with (from left) foster dogs, Puff and Jiggly Puff,
who have since been adopted and are now K-9 Angels alums.

. .

Bring your best friend to Strut Your Mutt:  Enjoy a leisurely fundraising dog walk with (or without) your dog, followed by a doggie-themed festival that includes pet contests, photos, doggie goodies, fun activities for you and your furry friend, food, refreshments and more, all for a great cause – helping homeless pets.

Kate Thomson

Kate Thomson, who lives in Tanglewood with her husband Andrew,
with foster dog Leilani, who recently found her forever home.

. .

One local team you can consider joining is K-9 Angels Rescue, a dog rescue group located in the West U area, which has saved more than 2,200 dogs from shelters and from the streets since early 2012.  K-9 Angels is an all-breed, all-condition rescue group and the money they raise will be used to continue to grow their adoptions programs and spay/neuter services.

K-9 Angels is particularly close to my heart, since that’s where my husband and I adopted our sweet pup, Yogi, from just about a year ago.

Barb Koston

K-9 Angels foster and Tanglewood resident Barb Koston,
holding Fifi on the left
(now named Gracie by her adoptive family)
and Caroline on the right (now named Jingle by her adoptive family).
These pups were found in a backyard after a fire burned down their house.

. .

See information about joining K-9 Angels Strut Your Mutt team.  Last year, K-9 Angels raised more than $68,000, coming in second in overall fundraised among all of the Houston rescues that participated.

Plus, learn more about becoming a foster.  K-9 Angels is a 100 percent volunteer and foster-run nonprofit and they’re always seeking additional foster homes to be able to save more dogs.  All K-9 Angels dogs stay with foster homes during the week and are available for adoption every Saturday and Sunday at 5533 Weslayan (next to Chuck-E-Cheese).

– See more at:  http://thebuzzmagazines.com/articles/2015/10/strut-your-mutt-cause#sthash.QddUiVMp.dpuf

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5 things I learned as a foster dog parent and the 1 reason why I keep doing it

As a foster parent with Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue, I take dogs into my home and care for them until they find their forever homes.

These dogs come from high-kill shelters in the southern U.S., and so far, I have fostered two dogs, both of whom found fantastic forever homes.

Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue likes to give its dogs celebrity names, which makes calling them in the park even more fun.  The first dog I fostered was named Ezra Klein and the second (who stole my heart) was named Ellen Page.

This is Ezra Klein, my first foster dog, a 2-year-old dachshund-chihuahua mix.

This is Ellen Page, my second foster dog, a 4-year-old “muttigree.”

I’m a video producer here at Upworthy, so when I brought Ellen Page into my home, I decided to document the highs and lows of being a foster parent.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

1. You get very little information about the dog you’re welcoming into your home.

Most of the time, foster parents have no idea what we’re in for — we get very little information about the dogs in advance.  The anticipation of a new foster pup always makes me nervous.  I call it my “pre-foster jitters.”

With Ellen, all I was told was that she had “bad manners” and was “aggressive with small dogs.”

Living in a community with a ton of small dogs, I was really nervous that Ellen would try to eat one for breakfast each morning.  Luckily, it turned out she preferred chasing squirrels over small dogs.

Ezra Klein, day 1, checking out his new temporary home.

2. Teaching foster pups that it’s OK to “go” on NYC sidewalks can be stressful.

Training a dog to be housebroken is tough, especially in NYC where grass is sparse.  It’s a learning process for everyone involved.

But that moment when they pee outside for the first time is pretty exhilarating.  After three long days of trying to get Ellen Page to pee outside, I basically threw a party for her the first time she got it right.

Pee party for Ellen!

3. Being a doggy foster parent to a nervous puppy can be a round-the-clock job.

Pee on the carpet?  Diarrhea at 4 a.m.?  Constant barking and separation anxiety?  Fear of being outside?  These are all issues that require constant love, patience, and understanding to help resolve.

My first foster puppy, Ezra, was so fearful on walks that he would drag me down the sidewalk back to my apartment building.  (He only weighed 12 pounds, but those little front legs have power — let me tell you.)  I didn’t know his history, but I suspected he spent most of his pre-foster life stuck in a crate and had probably had never been outside before.  So I worked with Jason Cohen, a dog trainer, to help Ezra become less anxious outside … which meant sitting outside with him for extended periods of time.
Ezra and I watched the sunset (as he tried to drag me back to my apartment).
Ezra and I went on long walks (as he tried to drag me back to my apartment).
Ezra and I sat and people-watched (as he tried to drag me back to my apartment).

And, eventually, Ezra realized being outside wasn’t so bad.

Classic Ezra butt-wiggle

It was a relief to know that all that patience had paid off.  By training Ezra to be calm outside, it was less likely that he’d be sent back to a shelter for misbehaving.

4. Walks are required frequently, even when you feel like being lazy.

You know how I mentioned it took a nervous Ellen Page three days to learn to pee outside?  Well, until that joyous moment, I was walking her multiple times a day, and even occasionally in the middle of the night, just in case she suddenly figured out where she was supposed to go to the bathroom.

At one point, I found myself scraping explosive doggy diarrhea off the sidewalk in the middle of the night (which is as fun as it sounds) when I would’ve much rather been sleeping.  But getting up to take Ellen on a 4 a.m. walk was worth it for that mess to end up outside rather than in my apartment — and to reinforce for Ellen that going to the bathroom should always happen outside.

5. The goodbye is by far the hardest part.

After I handed over Ellen’s leash to her amazing new adopters, I cried.  In the corner.  While my boyfriend patiently patted my head.

After spending countless hours training, petting, picking up poop, loving, feeding, and playing with your foster pup, there is nothing harder than seeing that pup walk away with its new family.  Leaving you.  Forever.

Or you can do what I did with Ellen’s adopters, and offer to dog-sit, should they ever go on vacation.  I am Ellen’s self-appointed cool aunt.  No promises that I won’t spoil her if her adopters take me up on the dog-sitting offer.

Ellen Page walking off into the sunset with her amazing adopters.

Of course, I always try to play it cool, as if I’m not crying and completely crushed, when my foster dogs walk away.  But after saying a tearful goodbye to Ellen Page, another Badass Brooklyn Dog Rescue puppy, Vin Diesel, tackled me with a big doggy hug.

Vin Diesel is so intuitive. It’s like he knew I needed a hug.
<Photo by Nikki Tappa>

Which brings me to the most rewarding part of fostering:

There, in Vin Diesel’s paws, I realized that there will ALWAYS be another dog in need of a foster.  Yes, I wanted to adopt Ellen Page and keep her as my own, but being a foster parent isn’t about me, or about Ellen.

It’s about the next dog on the kill list in a shelter down south, who needs a foster home in order to find a forever home.

As a doggy foster parent, you’re saving dogs lives.

According to the ASPCA, 1.2 million dogs are euthanized each year.  And every dog that gets fostered and adopted is one fewer dog on the kill list.  My boyfriend and I decided that for every dog we foster, we are going to make a “paw print” (with nontoxic finger paint).

We plan on framing each paw print, so that one day, we can have a wall full of paws — all shapes and sizes.  Whenever we have post-fostering blues, we’ll have this wall of paw prints to remind us of the big picture.

Fostering is about saving as many dogs as possible.  And that makes it all worth it.

Watch my journey with Ellen Page below:

ABOUT:

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Woman works to help 40-pound dachshund foster lose weight

Rescue group helps overweight Dachshund – VIDEO Link

HOUSTON – A dachshund at an area shelter should weigh around 15 pounds, but the dog is coming in at nearly 40 pounds.

Melissa Anderson volunteers with K-9 Angels Rescue.  She said the owner of 7-year-old Vincent died a few weeks ago and the man’s family did not want the dog anymore, so they turned him over to a local shelter.

“Someone contacted me and said can you foster this big Dachshund?” Anderson said.  “I have three dachshunds of my own, so it kind of pulled at my heartstrings.”

Since then, Anderson and a friend have been working with the dog day in and day out.  Vincent swims in the pool for 20 minutes a day and has daily walks.

He’s lost a few pounds in the past couple of weeks, but he still has a long way to go.

Anderson said she thinks the original owner was actually feeding the dog fast food regularly and that’s how the weight was put on.

“When I went through Starbucks, when the intercom came on and said, ‘Can I take your order,’ he <Vincent> immediately perked up and he was down on the floorboard of the passenger seat.  He jumped up in the seat, which he didn’t do at the time, and came over to the window and his little nose was going crazy,” Anderson said.

As the four-legged guy continues on the road to better health, Anderson said she knows it’s going to be a long one.

At the current rate, she said it may take five to six months to get to the ideal weight.

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Overweight pup gets second chance at life

(CNN)

Obese, unhealthy and mourning the loss of his owner, Vincent was surrendered to a county animal shelter in Houston two weeks ago.  His prospects didn’t look good.

He weighed in at 38 pounds, double the healthy weight for a 7-year-old dachshund.  He had high cholesterol and his back dipped from the extra weight, putting him at risk of nerve damage.  Mary Tipton, the intake coordinator for K-9 Angels Rescue, and a member of the board of directors for Harris County Animal Shelter, happened to be at the shelter for a meeting when she spotted him.

“Vincent was just enormous,” Tipton said.  She took a picture and posted it on Facebook to find him a foster parent.  Within 15 minutes, dachshund rescuer Melissa Anderson volunteered to take Vincent in.

Vincent’s case is extreme, but obesity affects a lot of pets.  In 2014, an estimated 52.7% of U.S. dogs were overweight or obese, according to the National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey.

Vincent was 38-pounds at the shelter, but two weeks later weighs in at 35.2.

Now Anderson is slowly bringing Vincent back to health.

The first week wasn’t easy for either Vincent or his foster parent.  When leaving the vet with such a large dog, Anderson said she felt fat-shamed by someone walking on the sidewalk.

“They told me, ‘Now that’s just abuse,’ and acted like they had to go out of their way to walk around Vincent,” said Anderson.  “Some people just don’t know other people’s story.  They just make assumptions by their appearances.”

When she took him home, Vincent got sick, both vomiting and upset bowels, when he ate the healthy dog foods she gave him.  Anderson could tell he was despondent.

“I am not sure what the previous owner fed him, but I think it was all fast food.  He was literally detoxing the first week,” she said.

Anderson said when she went to a Starbucks drive-thru one day, Vincent got really excited by the sound of the intercom.  “He jumped on my lap and stuck his nose outside the window, just sniffing away.”

But after just two weeks, Anderson said Vincent is well on his way to a healthier lifestyle.

Vincent eats a special dog food; Anderson offers him green beans or carrots as “treats” but he hasn’t really gone for those yet.

He’s on a pretty rigorous exercise regime, participating in water aerobics five times a week and playing with her others dogs in the yard.  The water aerobics help take pressure off Vincent’s strained joints.  Plus, with the 100-degree weather in Texas, it offers a nice cool-down for both Vincent and Anderson.

At first Vincent just floated at his water aerobics class, but he's started swimming.

At first, Vincent would just float in his life jacket.  But his endurance is growing.  Vincent can now paddle in the pool for about 15-20 minutes, five days a week.  Before, he could only waddle around the yard with the other dogs.  Now he is able to jog.

“He is really happier now then he was,” said Anderson.  She said he keeps a positive attitude and seems to know they are trying to help him.

Vincent has gained energy as he's begun to lose weight.

K-9 Angels Rescue is hoping to get him to a healthy weight so he can be ready for adoption, but they aren’t opposed to him being adopted in his current condition.

“We take adoptions case by case.  If there was a perfect home that wanted to take over his weight loss journey we may take that into consideration,” said Tipton.  “We are in no hurry to get rid of him but there are other dogs at the shelter that are ready to be saved.”

Now, Fat Vincent is on his way to become Skinny Vinnie.  He was 38-pounds and two weeks later weighs in at 35.2.  His weight loss will be a slow process but with the help of K-9 Angels Rescue he is on his way to his new life.

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K-9 Angels Rescue Working to Regain Fat Dog’s Health

Group working to regain fat dog's health
A dog dropped off at the pound following his owner’s death is getting lots of attention for his size.
But now, a local group and vets are slowly bringing Vincent back to health.
Friday, August 28, 2015 07:07PM

Every step and every run was a struggle for Vincent a couple of weeks ago.  At 38 pounds, double the size vets say he should be, Vincent’s size takes a toll on him.  His back even dips from the weight.  VIDEO LINK

Foster parent Melissa Anderson with K-9 Angels Rescue says, “People can be kind of mean.  They’ll say things like that’s abuse and they’re thinking it’s my dog and I’m like I’m trying to help this dog.  It just made me think people can be kind of harsh.”

Vincent was dropped off at the pound in Harris County after his owner died.  Fearing he would not get adopted Anderson stepped in because she did not want Vincent to be overlooked or worse, be put down because of space.

Vincent’s vet has him on a diet and Melissa and her friend Lauren are getting Vincent healthy again through swimming.  Vincent enjoys it and is pushing himself.  After weight loss, will come walks.

Already, Vincent has lost two pounds.

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More people means more pets for Harris county’s animal shelter

"If 80 to 100 animals come in here every day, 80 to 100 have to go out," says Dr. Michael A. White, who supervises the crew that euthanizes animals. Photo: Karen Warren, Houston Chronicle / © 2015 Houston ChroniclePhoto: Karen Warren, Houston Chronicle

Dr. Michael A. White dreams at night of the creatures whose lives are in his hands.  At home, the director of Harris County’s Veterinary Public Health unit is fostering two labs and four basset hound pups with highly contagious mange.  At the county shelter, White supervises the crew that euthanizes unclaimed, injured and unadoptable animals – to clear space for dozens of new arrivals daily.

“If 80 to 100 animals come in here every day, 80 to 100 have to go out,” White said, whether they are recovered by their owners, adopted or in many cases euthanized.

While the human population has nearly doubled in the last two decades in unincorporated Harris County, the animal shelter remains a vestige of a less populous time and must confront the challenges that come with it.  More households means more pets and – without widespread spaying and neutering – more unwanted pets.  But the facility has not grown to accommodate the burgeoning population of animals.

“We cannot close our doors if we are at capacity like many shelters are able to do,” White said.   “We do the best we can with the resources we have.”

When the county built the shelter on Canino Road in 1986, it was designed to take in 12,000 lost and abandoned dogs, cats, snakes, turtles, guinea pigs and tropical fish annually.  The shelter now sees about 25,000 every year, the vast majority being cats and dogs.  The current intake roughly matches that of the much more well-known Houston Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care, although BARC operates with four times the budget.

Animal Shelter
Houston Chronicle

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With more animals, the discussion inevitably turns to concerns over euthanasia rates.  After a boost in funding and increased partnerships with non-profits, BARC’s live release rate is now 80 percent, up from a low of 20 percent in 2005.

But this is not the case in Harris County.  About 70 percent of the county shelter’s animals were euthanized in 2014, though that represents a 13 percentage point decline from 2010.

“It’s an extremely hard decision for staff to make: which ones to keep and which ones to let go,” White said.  “There are so many really nice animals that come through here.  They’ll come here with little sweaters or little dresses on.   If they’re not micro-chipped or tagged there’s no way we can find the owner.”

The shelter partners with 131 rescue groups to aid with adoptions and help lower the kill rate.  Nevertheless, the facility faces significant hurdles as it accommodates a growing region.

In an April 15 email to Dr. Umair Shah, the county’s public health director, White wrote, “While we have implemented efforts to decrease the number of animals that enter the shelter each day, which has helped, our intake is still beyond the scope of our facility to house the high numbers of animals and our staffing level to provide adequate care for them.”

More pets, fewer put down: The Harris County animal shelter, which was built in 1986, receives several thousand more animals than it did a few years ago, but it has lowered its euthanasia rate by 10 percentage points.

More pets, fewer put down: The Harris County animal shelter, which was built in 1986,
receives several thousand more animals than it did a few years ago, but it has lowered its euthanasia rate by 10 percentage points.

Harris County’s compound was built to house 230 animals at a time.  At near breaking point occupancy in April 2015, the facility had 380.

State law mandates a three-day hold for animals to be redeemed by their owners.  After that period, rescue groups may foster pets and try to place them in homes.  Whenever possible, White said, he keeps the animals on site longer, especially if there’s a glimmer of interest in adoption.

When dog and cat breeding reaches its peak in the spring, the number of puppies and kittens arriving at shelters rises, making it harder for older pets to get adopted.  Last week, the shelter’s cages and kennels were overflowing, with as many as six kittens or six dogs to a cage.

Many pets get left behind when tenants are evicted.  Some wander off, and their owners never retrieve them.  Some dogs arrive covered in motor oil, or wearing collars that are choking them because they were put on when they were puppies and they have outgrown them.

“This isn’t about politics, this is about a community problem,” Shah said.   “We can’t say, ‘At this time we are not taking any more animals.’ …  We can’t say, ‘We’re not going to accept injured ones’ or ‘We’re not going to take the funny looking ones.’   We’re going to take all comers.”

Monica Schmidt, public relations manager for the Houston Humane Society, noted that pet overpopulation is a problem on a broad scale because of a pervasive mind set:  “There’s a big difference between a stray problem and an irresponsible owner problem.  You get reasons like, ‘I’m moving.’   Or I didn’t spay and neuter them and now I have too many.'”

For the situation to improve, she said, the basic idea of pet ownership has to change.

Government facilities around the country and in Texas are overwhelmed, said Joanne Jackson, director of operations at Citizens for Animal Protection.  “They have to take animals in, and they don’t have the flexibility of a private place that can pick and choose,” Jackson said.

White said the more crowded quarters become at his facility, the greater the risk of disease like the bout of distemper that spread among the dogs last year.

There has been some progress in addressing the overflow.  The operating budget for animal control has increased 28 percent in the past three fiscal years.  Animal control has proposed two capital improvement projects for this coming year: a partial expansion of the shelter, which includes a new education and adoption building behind the facility, and a project to replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in the kennel area.

Jackson, whose group collects animals to foster from the county shelter and from BARC, said the county facility faces the additional hurdle of being in a somewhat remote area in north Houston.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Jack Mormon said he made the trip out to Canino Road two Christmases ago with his daughter and they adopted the mixed breed puppy she named Snowflake.  “Back then it wasn’t nearly as crowded as now,” Mormon said.  “It seemed they were at capacity.  I know they’ve got them stacked everywhere and it’s a problem, but I think they’re operating as well as possible with their limited conditions.”

White joined the staff as the center’s infectious disease specialist in 2010.  He assumed leadership of the facility in 2013.

The former director, Dr. Dawn Blackmar, retired amid reports of inhumane and unorthodox euthanasia practices at the facility.  A 2012 report by the county attorney’s office found that caregivers under Blackmar had re-used hypodermic needles and left containers of the euthanasia drug Fatal Plus unsecured.

The report said employees had been euthanizing dogs and stockpiling carcasses in view of live animals waiting to be euthanized – a violation of protocol.  The county attorney’s investigation also confirmed allegations that animals, including some that had apparently been given the Fatal Plus solution, were found alive inside a freezer.

The shelter now adheres to the mandated protocol, Shah said.   And White has established a reputation as an animal lover.

“I think Dr. White has done a wonderful job.  From what I can tell, he has done a lot to reach out to different rescue groups and organizations to fill in some of the gaps where due to funding or staff they can’t do all they would want to,” said Schmidt of the Humane Society.   “I do think he’s doing a wonderful job.  They have a lot of staff that care deeply.”

The shelter has added a new puppy yard for adoptions and hopes to open a new surgery wing in a double-wide trailer on the 15,000-square-foot grounds.

Kill rates have also dropped under White.   The euthanasia rate in 2010 including sick, injured and aggressive animals was nearly 84 percent.  By 2014, the rate had dropped to 71 percent.

“It breaks our hearts to have to euthanize,” White said.   “We are an open-door shelter.  They say we euthanize for convenience.  That’s hurtful.  We want to save every animal.”

 

 

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