The Humane Society of Iredell County is making sure this holiday season will be a happy one for the animals in their care, with their holiday fostering program.
Volunteers are working to place each one of the animals with an area foster family while the Human Society facility closes over the Christmas holidays.
“It’s a big job to find a foster home for every single cat and kitten, puppy and dog, and a few bunnies and birds as well,” said Elizabeth Staton, HSI cat coordinator.
HSI’s Adoption Center, at 110 Robinson Road, Mooresville, is where many of their current adoptable animals live. So when the building closes from Dec. 19 to Jan. 5 for Christmas and New Year’s, alternative arrangements need to be made.
And that’s where the fosters come in.
“The ‘up’ side is that this holiday need brings new foster parents and families into our program every year,” said Staton. “Often people who have considered fostering for years but weren’t quite sure what it involved or how they’d feel about caring for an animal short-term.”
As opposed to ongoing fosters, who can have animals in their homes for days, weeks, or even months while the pets wait to be adopted, holiday fostering is short-term. Foster parents will have a set schedule of when the animal comes into their home and when they will return to HSI.
They hope this flexibility, as well as the spirit of the season, will encourage hesitating fosters to take action.
“Something about the holiday season seems to inspire families to take a chance,” said Staton, “whether they foster solely at the holidays or continue to foster throughout the year.”
The only requirements for potential foster families are that all animals in the home are spayed or neutered, current on all vaccinations and on a heartworm preventative. They also need to keep their pets indoors. However, holiday fosters who take in cats can choose whether to integrate their guest with their family animals or give them separate space.
HSI caseworkers will also do their best to make sure the foster animal and foster parent are a perfect match.
“We can’t guarantee a certain animal, but we do take requests and if possible, we will try to match a family with the animal of their choice,” Staton said.
They also pay attention to special requests from fosters, such as gender, age or personality type.
“Whether you’re looking for an active or relaxed personality, a baby or a senior, they’re all ready to go home for the holidays,” said Staton. “We (also) have bonded pairs, siblings and best friends who are happiest together.”
In order to make the transition as easy as possible on both parties, HSI provides everything fosters will need to make their guests comfortable including food, bedding, litter boxes, leashes and carriers.
“Fostering is fun, rewarding and possibly addictive,” said Staton. As she explained it also sometimes leads to an unexpected new family member.
“We do have some wonderful ‘foster fails’ every year, a bonus since it means their foster home turned out to be their forever home.”
Such was the case for Keri Mankos of Mooresville, who had volunteered both as a photographer and “cat cuddler” before becoming a holiday foster last year.
“With three kids and two cats, the thought of another cat was not in our plan,” said Mankos.
But after fostering Snickers (then Myra) over the Christmas holiday, she said their family quickly realized their union was meant to be.
“She truly is the best cat we’ve ever had, she’s (even) finally made friends with our 14-year-old grumpy cat, Villa,” said Mankos.
“She has won us all over.”