A pal for the weekend, or longer: Shelter looking for canine foster homes

If you love dogs but can’t own one, and still want to spend time with humanity’s best friend, here’s an idea: become a foster owner.

If you love dogs but can’t own one, and still want to spend time with humanity’s best friend, here’s an idea: become a foster owner.

Humane Society Yukon’s Mae Bachur Animal Shelter is looking for foster homes for its dogs.

“It’s always so hard (to find foster homes),” said Rachel Shipperbottom, the shelter’s assistant manager.

“(People) end up falling in love with the dogs they have.”

The shelter takes care of about 500 animals per year, mostly dogs and cats, says executive director Dan Moore.

There is no shortage of volunteers for walking dogs, he said, but foster homes are harder to come by.

The shelter has three full-time and five part-time employees but relies heavily on volunteers. As of today the shelter had 11 cats and nine dogs up for adoption.

One year is usually the maximum time dogs will stay at the shelter, Shipperbottom said.

“We try to get them into homes, or try other shelters,” she said. “It’s just a long time.”

There are times when dogs who’ve spent a lot of time at the shelter will run away to get back to the shelter.

“There was a dog that lived here for five months and went to a foster home,” Shipperbottom said. “He came back all the way from Crestview three times.”

But most times, it’s a good experience for the doggo and the foster parent.

And fostering allows for a lot of flexibility.

“You can do a weekend thing if you’re looking for a pal for the weekend and getting them out,” Shipperbottom said. “We have a guy, he comes in whenever he wants — he is an approved foster — and he takes the dogs for camping.”

Other people will foster the dogs until somebody actually adopts them.

Unsurprisingly, entire litters of puppies have proved the most difficult to find homes for.

The shelter can’t keep mothers with their puppies if they’re younger than six weeks, because of the diseases the puppies could catch but also the stress on the mother that could cause her to harm her puppies.

“We struggle every single time we get a pregnant mom in or a litter of puppies,” Shipperbottom said.

Shelter employees also keep an eye on foster dogs and check in with foster parents.

Shipperbottom herself is currently checking on a litter of four puppies.

Fostering is also a good way for would-be dog owners to see what’s in store for them.

Owning a dog is a commitment, Shipperbottom said, and she always recommends when people seek to adopt adult dogs they take them as foster pets first.

“We don’t want our animals coming back,” she said.

There’s increasing evidence that four-legged companions are good for our health.

A 2012 study from Virginia Commonwealth University suggested a link between employees bringing their dogs to work and lower stress levels.

From therapy dogs used in court to help witnesses, to stress-defusing ones in schools or epilepsy-warning dogs, service dogs are also more common.

The atmosphere at the News itself is much more enjoyable when newspaper mascot Gizmo, a border terrier, is making the rounds, partly to check on people’s work and partly sniffing around for food.

And for people who already own a dog or a cat, or who don’t necessarily want to foster animals, there are still ways they can help the shelter, Moore said.

The shelter gets about $79,000 in funding from the Yukon government, but that’s only about a fifth of its annual budget, meaning it relies heavily on fundraising and donations.

For more information on how to foster dogs or cats or to help with fundraising, visit humanesocietyyukon.ca, or drop by the shelter Tuesday to Friday, noon to 7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

If you love dogs but can’t own one, and still want to spend time with humanity’s best friend, here’s an idea: become a foster owner.

Humane Society Yukon’s Mae Bachur Animal Shelter is looking for foster homes for its dogs.

“It’s always so hard (to find foster homes),” said Rachel Shipperbottom, the shelter’s assistant manager.

“(People) end up falling in love with the dogs they have.”

The shelter takes care of about 500 animals per year, mostly dogs and cats, says executive director Dan Moore.

There is no shortage of volunteers for walking dogs, he said, but foster homes are harder to come by.

The shelter has three full-time and five part-time employees but relies heavily on volunteers. As of today the shelter had 11 cats and nine dogs up for adoption.

One year is usually the maximum time dogs will stay at the shelter, Shipperbottom said.

“We try to get them into homes, or try other shelters,” she said. “It’s just a long time.”

There are times when dogs who’ve spent a lot of time at the shelter will run away to get back to the shelter.

“There was a dog that lived here for five months and went to a foster home,” Shipperbottom said. “He came back all the way from Crestview three times.”

But most times, it’s a good experience for the doggo and the foster parent.

And fostering allows for a lot of flexibility.

“You can do a weekend thing if you’re looking for a pal for the weekend and getting them out,” Shipperbottom said. “We have a guy, he comes in whenever he wants — he is an approved foster — and he takes the dogs for camping.”

Other people will foster the dogs until somebody actually adopts them.

Unsurprisingly, entire litters of puppies have proved the most difficult to find homes for.

The shelter can’t keep mothers with their puppies if they’re younger than six weeks, because of the diseases the puppies could catch but also the stress on the mother that could cause her to harm her puppies.

“We struggle every single time we get a pregnant mom in or a litter of puppies,” Shipperbottom said.

Shelter employees also keep an eye on foster dogs and check in with foster parents.

Shipperbottom herself is currently checking on a litter of four puppies.

Fostering is also a good way for would-be dog owners to see what’s in store for them.

Owning a dog is a commitment, Shipperbottom said, and she always recommends when people seek to adopt adult dogs they take them as foster pets first.

“We don’t want our animals coming back,” she said.

There’s increasing evidence that four-legged companions are good for our health.

A 2012 study from Virginia Commonwealth University suggested a link between employees bringing their dogs to work and lower stress levels.

From therapy dogs used in court to help witnesses, to stress-defusing ones in schools or epilepsy-warning dogs, service dogs are also more common.

The atmosphere at the News itself is much more enjoyable when newspaper mascot Gizmo, a border terrier, is making the rounds, partly to check on people’s work and partly sniffing around for food.

And for people who already own a dog or a cat, or who don’t necessarily want to foster animals, there are still ways they can help the shelter, Moore said.

The shelter gets about $79,000 in funding from the Yukon government, but that’s only about a fifth of its annual budget, meaning it relies heavily on fundraising and donations.

For more information on how to foster dogs or cats or to help with fundraising, visit humanesocietyyukon.ca, or drop by the shelter Tuesday to Friday, noon to 7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com