The Petco Foundation and Skechers’ charity footwear collection, BOBS from Skechers, are celebrating Foster a Pet Month this June by recognizing 22 National Foster Heroes who have gone above and beyond to save animal lives in their communities.
The COVID-19 crisis response proved that fostering pets is the answer to eliminating unnecessary euthanasia of pets in America’s shelters.
“As the country opens up for business, we encourage families to continue to open up their homes and hearts to shelter pets. Because, if 2 percent of pet-owning households in the US fostered just one pet a year, we could eliminate unnecessary euthanasia in this country, not just during the COVID-19 shutdown but forever,” said Susanne Kogut, president of the Petco Foundation. “As we honor volunteer Foster Heroes, who are making a difference in their communities, we hope to inspire more people to join the pet fostering movement. Our goal is to make sheltering pets in foster homes, versus animal shelters, the new normal, so we can create a lifesaving nation together.”
Below are some of the National Foster Hero Honorees:
- Andre Karma, Muddy Paws Rescue (New York, NY): Healthcare worker, Andre, continues to give back to Muddy Paws and his New York community despite the hardships of COVID-19. Andre is an on-site EMT for a pharmaceutical company, a medical scribe at an urgent care and a laboratory clerk at a hospital. Even amid this challenging chapter in his life, Andre still found the time and space in his heart to continue to welcome foster dogs into his home. When asked about fostering during the pandemic, on top of his day (sometimes night) jobs, Andre said his foster dogs are not only a sight for very sore, tired eyes, but they are the perfect alarm clock and comfort to get him to his next day. After two years as a foster for Muddy Paws, Andre has helped save almost 40 lives.
- Bonnie Krause, Humane Society Waterville Area (Bangor, Maine):Bonnie’s organization describes her as one of those magical unicorn volunteers who will answer a call in the middle of the night and rush more than to pick up a litter of 2-day-old orphaned kittens. Bonnie includes her daughter in raising and rehabilitating kittens and cats, and she mentors other fosters as well. After COVID-19, Bonnie helped expand the shelter’s capacity by aiding in the transition of their in-person foster training classes to digital classes, hosting Bottle Baby Basics and Kitten Care 101 for other foster volunteers. Having fostered 73 cats and kittens this year alone, Bonnie is a treasured volunteer who is helping her community save lives.
- Mike Gresham, K-9 Stray Rescue League(Detroit, MI): During the past 14 years, Mike has fostered more than 200 dogs, including dogs most in need such as pregnant moms, dogs recovering from surgery, heartworm positive dogs and those with special needs and medical conditions. During COVID-19, Mike used his foster expertise to find homes for six foster dogs in just one month. Even after all his lifesaving work, Mike doesn’t consider himself a hero, just a guy who loves dogs and wants to help. Those who know him best describe him as a humble, big-hearted man, with non-stop devotion to the well-being of all dogs — the person any animal lover would aspire to be.
- Rita Phelps, Palm Valley Animal Society (McAllen, Texas):Rita has been a foster for nearly two years and has fostered 68 kittens and cats and one dog. She’s one of Palm Valley Animal Society’s go-to volunteers for neonatal kittens or animals suffering from upper respiratory and other medical complications. Thanks to Rita’s care and attention, numerous litters of kittens have gotten a new chance at a life filled with love. She’s touched countless animal and human lives by fostering and through her selfless acts of kindness, like baking treats for shelter pets and cookies to thank shelter staff. When asked about fostering, Rita says, “The purpose is to get them to a point where they can be healthy and happy and make someone else happy, and I tell myself they will go to a loving home.”
- Heather Higgins, Front Street Animal Shelter (Sacramento, CA): When Front Street Animal Shelter needed help caring for pets during the COVID-19 crisis, Heather didn’t hesitate to foster whatever animal needed a temporary home, and she welcomed shy Luna home. Heather provided a calm environment for Luna and, in doing so, helped Luna thrive. Luna came out of her shell, mastered tricks and learned how to use the doggy door. Heather then became Luna’s advocate for finding her a loving home. Thanks to Heather’s lifesaving efforts, Luna is now with her new family which consists of a mom, dad, daughter (that Luna loves and cuddles with) and a cat too!
For stepping up and saving lives, each National Foster Hero will receive a thank you gift that includes BOBS from Skechers shoes and their incredible lifesaving work will be honored on petcofoundation.org/foster. The 22 National Foster Heroes were selected after nearly 400 animal welfare organizations across the country submitted their Foster Hero nomination.
Participating animal welfare organizations will join in the celebration of Foster a Pet Month and honor their Foster Heroes locally as well.
For more on the Petco Foundation and to take the Pledge to Save Pet Lives, visit petcofoundation.org/pledge.