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Ventura County Animal Services need more foster carers for pets

Caroline Feraday
Kittens at the animal shelter are cared for by foster carers

If you are an animal lover but aren’t sure about the commitment of a full-time dog or cat – maybe fostering animals from the local shelter is for you?

At the Animal Shelter in Camarillo, the sound of dogs barking almost sounds like they’re asking, ‘pick me, pick me.”

But for bigger dogs, the wait can be long, to find a suitable new home.

That’s where foster pet parents come in – like Abby Johnson and Zach Rosen. They started to foster dogs from the shelter, during the pandemic.

"We've had seven foster dogs which has ranged from a week, to a little over a year, " Johnson told KCLU.

"Fostering a dog is providing a home and care and affection for a dog on a temporary basis to help them find their forever home, " said Johnson.

Rosen said he thought it would be a good chance for them to have the experience of having a dog whilst also helping them to get out of the shelter.

Ventura County Animal Services' Foster Program gives the dogs a break from shelter life, and Randy Friedman from Ventura County Animal Services, says foster carers are needed more than ever, especially for large breed dogs.

Ventura County Animal Services
Daisy is a one and a half year old Pitt Bull-Husky Mix awaiting adoption in Ventura County

"The biggest need right now is families who can take in large breed dogs, like Mastiffs and Pit Bulls, that don't get adopted as fast," he told KCLU.

"When they're sitting in a kennel they become stressed so we need foster carers like Abby and Zach who can give them a break from shelter life," said Friedman.

There are also plenty of kittens.

Which for foster carer Kim Schmeichel, often means nurturing and bottle feeding them regularly.

"Newborns need to be bottle fed every two hours for the first couple of weeks, around the clock, so it's quite labor-intensive," explained Schmeichel.

"But to see them develop and grow and open their eyes and become those playful kittens is just so rewarding."

Caroline Feraday
Kim Schmeichel has been fostering kittens at Camarillo Animal Shelter

But is it hard for the foster carers to give the animals back, once they have bonded with them?

It's the biggest concern people have, says Johnson.

"You go into it knowing that this is what you're doing," she said.

"And when you are fostering, the fact you no longer have the dog is usually a happy thing and you've helped this dog find a good home," she said.

There are more details about the foster program and adoption on VCAS website.