By LAINE GRIFFIN
Daily News-Record 8/3/19
HARRISONBURG — Being in a kennel doesn’t always make a dog ready to go into a home, so what does? Fostering.
The Rockingham-Harrisonburg SPCA is holding a free foster information night Tuesday at its shelter, 2170 Old Furnace Rd., from 6-7:30 p.m. to talk about what it’s like to foster an animal and the positive effects it has on the animal.
“We are really trying to engage the community to learn more about it and grow our foster program more,” the local SPCA’s executive director Huck Nawaz said Friday. “We want to improve the adaptability of the animals here.”
Because the Rockingham- Harrisonburg foster program is working toward becoming stronger before expanding — with the help of its new foster coordinator, Joan Montalvo — the shelter is currently only looking for dogs to be fostered.
Nawaz said he expects it will be between six and nine months before the local SPCA has expanded the program to cover cats and dogs.
Attendees of the Tuesday event will also be able to visit with the 36 foster-available dogs.
“We want people to come to our event to receive information, supplies and support that they need to foster an animal and change its life,” Tiffany Corbin, the local SPCA’s marketing and fundraising manager, said Friday.
Currently there are less than five fosters at the shelter, according to Nawaz.
“People think that they can’t foster because of their work schedule or because they have kids or other animals, but in actuality, that’s good for the dog to be around,” Corbin said.
Nawaz said if it weren’t for fosters, employees and volunteers wouldn’t know much about the dogs up for adoption — such as if they are good with cats or kids.
“By others fostering, they help us know more about the dog, which in turn helps the dog get adopted quicker,” he said. “And if a dog has been in a home environment for a little while, it will adjust to a new home quicker once adopted.”
Guest speakers from Maddie’s Fund, which is a family foundation that gives grants to increase things like shelter medicine, shelter management and foster care across the U.S, and the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA, will talk about the life-changing impact fostering has on animals.
Information on short-term dog fostering will also be available. Short-term fostering, which is overnight fostering, according to Nawaz, is a good way to start out as a foster.
Before any animal is fostered, they are required to be up-to-date on all vaccines.
Nawaz said the majority of people who foster just want to help the animal, but some do it for a trial run, “and that’s just fine.”
He said there are also cases where a dog being fostered ends up being adopted by a friend or family member.
“The biggest myth people have about fostering is that it’s too hard to give them back up — on the human side — but we have found that not to be true,” Nawaz said.
Because a shelter environment can cause added stress and pressures to some of the dogs, many dogs never adjust to shelter life.
“Fostering can really change a dog’s life and our goal is to get them to a home that works best for them and their owner,” Nawaz said.
Of the total 30 seats available for the information night, there are only 15 left. To reserve a seat, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/foster-night-tickets-66629144565 or visit the shelters Facebook website.
Nawaz said he plans to have one more information night before the end of the year.