Coronavirus

3 Philadelphians on How Fostering a Pet Has Been Soothing in Difficult Times

What better way to spend your time at home than with an adorable furry friend?


Fostering a pet right now could bring you the comfort you need during these stressful times. / Photograph by Amanda Friday.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, animal shelters across the United States have seen a surge in foster pet applications. Sure, the hashtag #StayHomeAndFoster has gone viral and Busch beer company is giving away free beer for the cause, but people seem mainly driven by an urgent need for companionship and comfort.

Philly has been no different. In the past two weeks, local rescue organizations have received an outpouring from area residents willing to open their homes to furry friends in need. Between March 15th and March 27th, PAWS placed 160 animals into foster care. According to executive director Melissa Levy, that’s more than three times the amount of pets fostered during this time last year. Last week alone, the PSPCA received 300 foster applications, and continues to match dogs and cats with suitable hosts.

We chatted with three Philly residents on how fostering animals in the age of coronavirus has brought them and their foster pets a sense of comfort and ease during these pretty stressful times. (Though, we have to say not everyone has such a thrilling experience with their furry friend — some of them, are, apparently, pretty much the worst.)

Philadelphia magazine: What kind of animal(s) are you fostering (pet type and breed, if known) and from what shelter?
Liz Zubert, 28 of Fishtown: Currently, my husband and I are fostering a domestic short-haired cat named Kitten Nugget from Lucky You! Animal Rescue, Sandy (a senior Chihuahua mix) from City of Elderly Love, and Missy and Billy, two cats from Fishtails Animal Rescue.

Amanda Friday, 36 of Kensington: I’m fostering House, a seven-year-old Mastiff mix available for adoption from Street Tails Animal Rescue.

Friday’s foster dog, House. / Photograph by Amanda Friday.

Julia Correll, 22 of Fairmount: I’m taking care of Pretty, a one-year-old Cane Corso/Pitbull mix from ACCT Philly.

Why did you decide to foster a pet amid COVID-19?
Zubert: I got into fostering back in 2013 when I began volunteering at ACCT Philly. Since then, I’ve been a regular foster, usually of senior, hospice, or medically-needy animals. We’ve had Kitten Nugget since November 2018, and got Sandy this past February. Once COVID-19 hit the area, though, my husband and I knew that a lot of shelters were scrambling to place animals into foster care. Missy and Billy were living at Fishtown Animal Hospital undergoing some medical treatment, and Fishtails wanted to make sure they both got into a foster home before the business shutdown hit. Since my husband and I are both teachers with closed schools and we knew we’d be spending a lot of time at home with the space and capacity to care for a few more animals, we agreed to take in two more cats.

Zubert’s foster cat, Billy. / Photograph by Liz Zubert.

Friday: I’m in the pet care industry with a dog-walking/pet-sitting business. Because of COVID-19, I had all of my overnight clients cancel their trips and, therefore, cancel their overnight stays for their dogs. Fostering is always something that I’ve wanted to do, but it was never really an option for me due to my schedule. With the newfound free time, I decided to foster, and was matched with House. I also volunteer at Street Tails, so I understand how important it is for dogs to be in foster care while they await their forever homes, not just during this time!

How has hosting a foster pet benefited your mental and emotional well-being during this time?
Friday: Having House with me brings us both comfort. He was given the chance to get out of the noisy shelter, and relax in an actual home. He has also given me a feeling of purpose in this uncertain time. With little to no work, House gives me a reason to get out of bed, get outside for some fresh air, and find happiness in small ways together.

Correll: Fostering has definitely enhanced my quality of life and mental health. Having Pretty around allows me to focus on something other than what’s going on in the world, especially when we are able to get out of the house to go on walks. And while I do live with two housemates, one went to their parents’ house to quarantine there and the other is a nurse, so she isn’t around very much. Without Pretty, I would be living through this by myself, so she definitely makes me feel less lonely.

Correll’s foster dog, Pretty. / Photograph by Julia Correll.

Zubert: The animals in our house are giving our days some legitimate shape and helping us maintain somewhat of a routine. Sandy needs her heart meds at specific times and loves several short walks outside a day and Nugget is a playful maniac who wakes us up by chewing on our hands if he’s been too long without pets. Also, we’ve all gotten a ton of exercise!

What advice would you give to anyone considering fostering a pet?
Zubert: As this pandemic continues, some people might lose the financial ability to care for their pets. This means the need for foster homes is going to grow. I encourage people to consider fostering or donating to a rescue if you have the ability.

Correll: After all of this is over, a lot of the animals currently being fostered will likely be returned to the shelter, left waiting for a permanent home yet again. If you are able to adopt once this crisis is over, that is an ideal outcome for the animal. Plus, who can deny these adorable dogs and cats? or ACCT Philly.

If you’re interested in fostering a pet, get in touch with one of the local organizations nearest you, like Lucky You! Animal Rescue, City of Elderly Love, Fishtails Animal Rescue,  Street Tails Animal Rescue, or ACCT Philly.

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