Foster Volunteers- April 2020 Volunteers of the Month

Foster puppy, courtesy of Amanda
Foster cats, courtesy of Donna

Congratulations to Multnomah County Animal Services foster volunteers, nominated and chosen as the April 2020 Volunteers of the Month. These exceptional volunteers open their homes to animals in need of round-the-clock monitoring and support, socialization, stress-relief, and behavior training. Foster volunteers play a crucial role in raising and maintaining live-release-rates by expanding the sheltering capacity of MCAS, and providing one-on-one care in a home setting.

About the Volunteer of the Month

Help Needed to Save Lives

There was a time when animal shelters like MCAS were only able to save as many animals as their kennels would hold. It was a system where intakes were much higher than shelter space and available positive outcomes. Shelter workers were like Lucille Ball struggling to wrap chocolates on a conveyer belt as they kept coming and coming. Like Lucy filling her hat and shirt with chocolates, struggling to keep up, some shelter workers would take animals home at the end of the day to try to give them a place to stay, often choosing the most vulnerable animals out of many. That was the extent of our old-time foster network. It was abundantly clear that we needed help to save more animals. We needed Ethel, and not just one or two, but a whole bunch. Help came in the form of foster volunteers, who fundamentally changed animal sheltering, expanding shelter capacity and capabilities beyond what was once possible. Their important role in saving lives cannot be overstated.

Enter Foster Volunteers

What started as a small, lightly-managed network of foster volunteers has grown in numbers and skill. Fosters talk together in e-mail listservs, Facebook groups, and in a prolific Instagram network on par with popular social influencers. They share ideas, teach each other, help one another, and even participate in foster-sharing. MCAS foster volunteers are like the Henry Fords of foster care. Many volunteers experienced in feeding and caring for neonatal kittens will keep them until weaned, and then hand them off to another foster volunteer to care for them until they’re big enough to be spayed or neutered and adopted, freeing them up to take on more neonatal kittens.

One of the earlier logistical challenges of fostering was how to place animals up for adoption. There were worries of putting animals into foster care but struggling to get them out again. Now, foster volunteers run a well-oiled machine of adoption promotions, networking, and meeting with interested adopters to adopt animals right out of their homes.

Foster Volunteers & COVID-19

Foster volunteers play an increasingly vital role during the physical distancing demands of the COVID-19 emergency. At a time when adoptions and non-essential surgeries including spay & neuter surgeries are suspended, outcomes for shelter animals who aren’t reclaimed are reduced. Foster volunteers and community members interested in fostering are stepping up to offer support, building an expanding safety net for animals.

The protocols for training and onboarding new foster volunteers during this time are changing. Stay tuned for updates about online trainings! The ways foster volunteers receive support from shelter animal hospital staff and the foster coordinator are also changing with new demands. MCAS is grateful for the outpouring of support from new volunteers to support the pets and people of our community, and for the unwavering support and flexibility of long-time foster volunteers.

Fostering Animals is Our Present and Future

Even the best, modern animal sheltering facilities have their inherent limitations. Most are built to house animals for only several days at a time, with rare exceptions. It’s stressful for animals to spend extended periods of time in a shelter kennel, even with expanded space, amenities, and comprehensive enrichment programs including toys, treats, play groups, socialization, and walks. As the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement states in a recent Animal Enrichment Best Practice guide, “The best enrichment program will not overcome the need for companion animals to be in a home or natural environment.

MCAS is working to help keep pets in homes, reduce how long they stay at the shelter, and find positive outcomes as soon as possible. There are plans on the horizon for a new, modernized animal shelter facility. But we know that even with the best facilities, practices, and programs, foster volunteers will always be essential lifesavers in animal sheltering, because they offer a home environment and a family while animals wait for a new adoptive home or other positive outcome.

In the Words of the Foster Coordinator

"Managing the foster program has been a wonderful experience and I am honored to be on this team” says Jennifer Sparkman, MCAS Foster Coordinator. “I have been able to meet so many fabulous people with hearts as big as you can imagine. They sign up over and over again to give a piece of themselves to a pet who needs them. They look at me like I am silly when I ask them if they are sure they are up for it. Hundreds of animals a year are saved or simply able to have a much better stay as a result of our foster families. It's exciting to look back and see how far this group of people have come over the last 10 years and just as exciting to predict and plan where we are going. Thank you to all the families! You deserve all the credit for the success of this program."

Thank you, MCAS Foster Volunteers, for your faithful support in this current time of great need, and throughout the year.


Honoring Foster Volunteers

These are foster volunteers and fostering partners who cared for at least one animal from April 2018 to April 2020 at the time of publication.

Angela A.

Javier G.

Alana P.

Robin A.

Kit G.

Kimberly P.

Cindy A.

Monica G.

Ruth P.

Darlene A.

Tiffany G.

Terri P.

Julie A.

Elfriede G.

Tiffany P.

Darcy A.

Carly G.

Brianne P.

Animal Dental Clinic

Kristina G.

Jennifer P.

Amy A.

Jeanne G.

Heidi P.

Taira A.

Shauna H.

Penni P.

Diane B.

Bonnie H.

Catherine P.

Kathy B.

Courtney H.

Shawn P.

Jamie B.

Lauren H.

Mary P.

Emily B.

Nancy H.

Lisa P.

Ruby B.

Jason H.

Michael P.

Krista B.

Jeanine H.

Ami P.

Kay B.

Jennifer H.

Kristina P.

Katherine B.

Melinda H.

Victoria P.

Lisa B.

Laura H.

Lorna P.

Andrea B.

Tina H.

Rabbit Advocates

Lorrie B.

Christian H.

Laresa R.

Rachael B.

Amber H.

Corri R.

Rachel B.

Blaine H.

Mary R.

Sarah B.

Linda H.

Erin R.

Erica B.

Jessica H.

Corri R.

Julie B.

August H.

Cristin R.

Shanti B.

Jennifer H.

Dalynn R.

Katherine B.

Jessica H.

Cyndie R.

Taffy B.

Katelyn J.

Lauren R.

Meghan C.

Vera J.

Sarah R.

Abigail C.

Jean J.

Vanessa R.

Malinda C.

Renee J.

Robynne R.

Cat Adoption Team

Jennifer J.

Lina R.

Maysia C.

MacKenzie J.

Meghan R.

Cheryl C.

Tracy J.

Kassidy R.

Michelle C.

Tanya K.

Abigail R.

Miriam C.

Hannah K.

Jennifer R.

Donna C.

Zoe K.

Aimee S.

Columbia River Correctional Institution

Lynn K.

Sarah S.

Allison C.

Lisa K.

Blazer S.

Erin C.

Terrica K.

Cas S.

Arlene C.

Raymond K.

Claire S.

Jessica C.

Ann K.

Iris S.

Katie C.

Denise K.

Kristin S.

Katie C.

Shelley L.

Leslie S.

Niki C.

Janice L.

Molly S.

Tami C.

Amanda L.

Kelley S.

Belinda D.

Elisha L.

Linda S.

Lacey D.

Antonia L.

Kristin S.

Marisol D.

Ronda L.

Susan S.

Misha D.

Delaina L.

Jennifer S.

Bryna D.

Michael L.

Robin S.

Karalyn D.

Delia L.

Kristina S.

Danielle D.

Jodi L.

Judy S.

Jacque D.

Summer L.

Yevette S.

Debra D.

Lindsay M.

Debbi S.

Colleen E.

Sara M.

Dani S.

Emory E.

Karen M.

Alice S.

Cynthia E.

Lisa M.

Tara S.

Johanna E.

Susan M.

Beverly T.

Carrie F.

Kristen M.

Amanda T.

Ellen F.

Sharon M.

Sheila T.

Jeanette F.

Michelle Verheyden Reptiles

Stacy T.

Alexander F.

Douglas M.

Macy T.

Adrienne F.

Charlotte M.

Enid T.

Sarah F.

Jennifer M.

Amanda T.

Oona F.

Natalie M.

Joseph T.

Meghan F.

Mina M.

Brandy T.

Vanessa F.

Susan M.

Lynette T.

Kim F.

Cheyenne M.

Lori T.

Wendy F.

Cara M.

Rebekah U.

Jeanette F.

Ranee M.

Rachel V.

Jessica F.

Tania M.

Veronica V.

Rachel F.

Serena M.

Jacqueline V.

Diane F.

Erin M.

Mary W.

Molly F.

Jack N.

Katherine W.

Chris G.

Ronda N.

Willamette Great Dane Rescue

Katie G.

Verlie N.

Randi W.

Susan G.

Roxanne N.

Paula Y.

Marisa G.

Odd Man Inn

Jean Z.

Sherri G.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Brenda Z.


Oregon Humane Society