Moment of hope in overwhelming week at shelter

Summertime at South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter is like Christmas season in the retail business. The pace is frantic, the hours are long, and it’s a make-it-or-break-it situation. The animals pour in the doors, brought in by animal control officers, citizens finding strays, and owners unable to keep their pets or the offspring of their pets. With the building population at its height, staff and volunteers must spend long hours making sure all the animals get the care and attention that they so desperately need. The pressure to find homes and rescues for all of them is overwhelming.

Last week was especially difficult, because it seemed as though the rest of the world was on vacation. Adoptions were slow and no shelters or rescues were accepting transfers. On top of the usual craziness, all the electronics in the building seemed to have some sort of problem; the air conditioning was on the blink, the phones were acting up, the computers were having issues and the alarm system was going off repeatedly for no apparent reason. It was the kind of week that made me think I might enjoy a career as a barista or maybe a receptionist somewhere. But then, late Friday afternoon, I was reminded of what’s really important, when a couple of my former foster pets came in for a visit.

One of the most rewarding things in my life is to foster animals until they are ready for adoption. It can be a tough letting go when that time comes, but it is worth every moment of angst to see those animals become part of a loving family. If you are familiar with this column, you probably remember the stories about the Valentine litter that I had; born right before Christmas and adopted out in February, they and their mother were one of the highlights of my fostering experiences.

The mother is very special to me; she was part of my family for three months, and l loved experiencing the birth and raising of her pups. She had come from a rough

situation, pregnant and running loose on the streets of Bridgeton, but her luck certainly changed once the animal control officer brought her into the shelter. After delivering and weaning her pups, when the time came for her to be adopted out, it just so happened that the absolute perfect home needed a little girl like her to help fill the void of a beloved Schnauzer they had lost just before Christmas. Searching through the pets listed on the shelter’s website, the little dog’s wiry hair and intelligent eyes caught their attention right away. My precious mama dog, now Gidget, was on her way to live the life of an adored and pampered member of the family.

As fate had it, she would not be the only one of my foster animals to end up in the Burgos’ home. Having suffered the loss of another senior dog, they were soon on the

When they came in to see me last week, they were like a breath of fresh air. What a great job, I thought; who else gets to experience the fruit of their labors in the form of wagging tails and excited kisses? Even if only for a few precious moments, the furious pace of the shelter and the aggravation of the malfunctioning electronics seemed to fade away in the happiness of the reunion.lookout for another companion. As if by divine intervention, I got a text message from them about their possible interest in adopting another pet right at the time that I had a new foster pup. I was ecstatic to be able to place another dog in such a wonderful home.

You don’t have to work at the shelter to experience the joy of rescuing pets. Become a foster parent today. Check out our website at southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org for more information on becoming a foster hero.

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