More foster homes needed for animals
Finding homes for unwanted, abandoned, and neglected animals in Rainy River District is an ongoing effort for the local Friends of Animals, a non-profit rescue organization funded entirely by donations.
“We work strictly on foster care because we don’t have a shelter at this time,” noted Sherin Hagen of the Friends of Animals.
Hagen noted the need is great. In fact, just last month they had as many as 30 puppies they were looking for homes for.
“We found homes for all of them, but it’s never-ending,” she stressed.
“I don’t know what the answer is, but having animals spayed and neutered would be a big help.”
Hagen said fostering animals can be a very rewarding experience.
“It can be a lot of work, but the good certainly outweighs the bad,” she remarked. “You might not be able to help them all, but you are doing the best you can.”
Katherine Williams, who has been fostering puppies and dogs at her Emo home, calls it “heaven and hell,” but mostly she considers helping these animals a blessing.
“When one of these darlings is cuddling up to you and giving you licks, your heart melts,” she said.
“When they follow you around and make you laugh because of their silly doggie ways, you fall in love.”
But she noted not all animals coming into care are healthy.
“I’ve had to rehabilitate dogs that were abused, nurse some back to health that were sick, and rush some to the vet for emergency care,” she recalled.
“After spending so much quality time holding a swaddled pup to keep it warm or teaching it to eat solid food, a bond forms between the two of you.
“I’ve earned their trust and it is magical,” she added. “This is the heaven part—unconditional love.”
But Williams recently experienced the “hell” part. Ready to accept puppies to be put up for adoption last week, she was told six were coming but four showed up cowering in the back of a pickup truck.
They were from different litters and varied in age from seven-16 weeks.
“None were acting like puppies,” she noted, adding they were hardly moving, aside from their shaking.
She and another foster mom took them into the house, wrapped them in blankets, and began to assess the situation.
“The three littlest pups were skin and bones, so emaciated that all we could do was stare in silence,” Williams said.
“We tried to get them to drink, but they weren’t interested,” she added. “We tried to get them to eat, even trying to woo them with bacon, [but] nothing.”
The pair called Hagen from Friends of Animals for assistance and continued with their plan to give them flea baths as they all were infested.
They syringe-fed the puppies some drops of water, then one of the pups got up and started vomiting, then squatted and out poured blood.
“The pup I was holding passed out. I thought it had died and shook it awake,” she remembered.
They took them for an emergency visit to the vet and their worst fears were confirmed—they all had Parvovirus, a virus that can kill a young pup in three-four days.
“It is a horrible, painful way to die and these babes were beyond help. They only had hours left to live,” Williams said, noting they had to make the inevitable decision to euthanize three of the puppies.
“They had no hope,” she lamented.
“I have never cried so much in my life,” she added. “This was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.”
Williams said she tried to stay with one of the pups as it was being put to sleep, but she couldn’t do it.
Hagen stayed with them as she didn’t want them to die alone.
“She came out bawling when it was over,” Williams recalled. “I think a little bit of all of us died, as well.”
Williams and Hagen hope they never have to experience another situation like that again, but Williams said it made her life richer.
“Those three angels taught me that my efforts are not in vain,” she reasoned.
“Being a pet owner is an honour and a privilege,” she added. “With it, comes huge responsibility.
“Spaying and neutering your pet is a must,” she stressed. “Vaccinating your pet gives them protection from horrible diseases such as Parvovirus, rabies, and distemper.”
But Hagen admitted she understands that spaying, neutering, and vaccinations can be expensive. That’s why the Friends of Animals currently is trying to work on different options for people who adopt from them.
She added she’s grateful for the assistance they receive from nearby organizations, such as the Borderland Humane Society in International Falls, Homeward Bound Animal Rescue in Atikokan, Golden Paws in Red Lake, and Animal Allies in Duluth, among others.
“They are an incredible help,” Hagen said, citing it can be difficult to operate solely on donations.
“We’re happy to accept whatever people offer, whether it’s a bag of food or a toy,” she noted. “Every little bit helps.”
Besides donations, people can help out with transporting or fostering.
Hagen said homes sometimes are found for these animals outside Rainy River District and help transporting them would be appreciated.
And she added fostering can be a very rewarding experience for people who are able to offer time and love to unwanted animals.
“We try not to overwhelm foster parents,” she indicated. “For a puppy, the turnaround could be a week or so.
“Often dogs are there longer,” she noted. “But if someone could just take one, it means that one is safe.”
Hagen said the Friends of Animals tries to help out the foster families as much as they can with food and other necessities for the animals.
And together they scour websites, online postings, and advertisements trying to find the animals a “forever” home while using a screening process to ensure each is a safe and loving environment.
To make a donation, visit the Friends of Animals website at ladylucksafehaven.com (there also is a wish list on the site of items people could donate).
Or send your donation to R.R. #2, Site 220-17, Fort Frances, Ont., P9A 3M3.
Those interested in volunteering or becoming a foster parent can contact the Friends of Animals via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 274-2144.
“Why am I a foster parent?” asked Williams. “For the heaven parts and the joy of saving animals from the hell.”