In December, neighbors saw an emaciated dog loose in Monroe’s Rainbrook neighborhood. The dog dragged a front leg that was broken and useless. Scars around his neck hinted that the midsized, mixed-breed had been cruelly tied or chained for long periods.One neighbor called Animal Control. Another called the Humane Society of Union County. Animal Control arrived first and put the dog in the shelter until he could be released to the Humane Society, which named him “Roger” and immediately took him to a local veterinarian.His injured leg – which may have been caused by abuse or when the dog was hit by a car – was amputated. Roger also received treatment for ear infections, and he’ll soon be undergoing treatment for heartworms.So far, his vet bills top $1,000.“But through it all, he remains cheerful and accepting,” said his foster mother Barbara Bigham. “His tail is always wagging.”She normally fosters only small-breed dogs. But Roger’s need was great, and there’s a shortage of foster families for the many dogs and cats that need temporary homes.Bigham, who is the Humane Society’s foster/adoption coordinator, said there are currently 11 volunteers serving as foster parents – but they could use more. The need has grown in recent years because of the economy and the rise of foreclosures.Most of the pets needing foster homes are relatively healthy.The Humane Society pays all veterinary bills at select clinics and can provide crates, collars, leashes and bowls, she said. In rare situations, it will also pay for food.The amount of time a pet stays with a foster family is usually one or two months, she said.And yes, she said, it’s easy to get attached.“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “The best cure for missing a foster is getting another one.”Bigham – who has three cats and six dogs of her own – has been a foster for 20 years. She fosters multiple animals at a time, despite working a full-time and two part-time jobs. She estimates she has fostered more than 200 pets; she has helped them to find forever homes through the Petfinder website and events at area pet stores.“It’s so rewarding to see these animals blossom and get ready to start a whole new life,” she said.She hopes Roger will be one of them.And judging from his always-wagging tail, good manners, intelligence and sweet disposition, his chances are good.When he is gone from her home, another dog will take his place.“Knowing what I know, I can’t not do it,” she said. “I can’t save the world, but I’m going to try. ... Even if you foster only one animal, it changes life for that animal.“And, even after all these years, I still get excited when I know I’m getting a new foster.”
Monday, Jan. 14, 2013
Taking in a foster pet offers special rewards
Despite tough light, Roger remains happy
Barbara Bigham estimates she has provided a foster home for 200 animals. Roger, a mixed-breed dog found in Monroe's Rainbrook neighborhood, is her latest foster pet. JANE DUCKWALL
Roger was found in Monroe's Rainbrook neighborhood with a broken leg and scars around his neck. He was immediately provided with veterinarian care paid for by the Humane Society. COURTESY OF BARBARA BIGHAM
Want to help? To learn more about the Humane Society’s needs and how you can help, visit www.HS-UC.org. Click on the “How You Can Help” link at the top right of the page for more information or to fill out an application to become a foster parent.