The San Marcos Animal Shelter has been closed to the public and operating with limited staff due to COVID-19. Thankfully they have seen a huge surge of fostering and adoptions, about 60% of their shelter, since the outbreak.
“I cannot say enough about this community,” Shelter Manager Jeannie Saadi said. “I feel like we barely asked and they were here at our door. It is remarkable how well the San Marcos area has responded.”
They are still pushing to get the remaining 70 animals adopted or fostered, recognizing that with many people quarantining at home, now is the perfect time to foster a pet.
“Our favorite kind of foster is the one that fosters over and over. If you foster to adopt, you save one life. If you foster and let somebody else adopt it, you can save life after life,” Saadi said. Fostering allows the animal to decompress from the chaos of the shelter, have more training, become socialized and ultimately will make them more appealing to potential adopters.
Fostering can be mutually beneficial, Saadi said. “This is such a stressful time and having a pet around has been proven to lower your blood pressure, it gives you an outlet for that stress. Fostering a dog gives you a reason to get outside the house, wave at the neighbors and gives you a little break from being cooped up.”
Animals can take up to 3 weeks to get comfortable in a new home; most foster programs won’t let you take one home for less than 2 weeks because their initial behavior is usually out of fear and confusion. Once they adjust, their behavior will usually be very different.
To reduce traffic in the closed shelter, adoptions will be matched virtually and delivered to your home and fosters can be set up with a match in person at an appointment. Right now they are also offering a “pay what you can” adoption fee special.
Volunteers are diligently sanitizing surfaces, wearing gloves and bathing dogs before they leave the shelter. The American Veterinary Medical Association is not concerned about cats carrying the virus on their fur because cats self bathe several times a day, Saadi said.
The shelter currently has plenty of big dogs that have a lot of energy and may need an experienced foster. “A lot of their behavior is because of them being in the shelter, because they are cooped up all day. When we get them into an actual home where they can play and go for walks, we see completely different behavior,” said Saadi. Dogs are the more popular foster pick, however cats are much easier.
Spring is synonymous with kitten season for animal shelters, and the San Marcos Animal Shelter anticipates many neonatal kitten fosters. Neonatal kittens need fosters who are home 24/7 to bottle-feed them every 4-6 hours and weigh them 1 to 2 times a day. “It’s a great thing to do with the kids if they are 4th grade and older. It’s a fantastic project for them involving math, science and community support,” Saadi said. The shelter uses an online training to teach how to care for kittens under 6 weeks old.
Fosters are supported with staff available by phone and email to answer questions. Veterinary care is provided for free at the shelter for foster animals. They are sent home with crates, bowls, leashes, collars, food, litter boxes and cat litter.
If you are unable to foster or adopt and still would like to support the shelter, they are always accepting donations especially powdered kitten milk and bottles for kitten season. They are also calling for art supplies for an upcoming fundraiser. Sharing Facebook posts of the animals that are in foster care is also a great way to help animals get adopted.