Menlo Park resident Molly McComas began fostering dogs with her mother Sue when she was 15 years old, after adopting from Pound Puppy Rescue. Now, 12 years and more than 100 puppies later, her 7-year-old daughter learns about respecting and caring for animals through the same process.
Founded in 2001, Pound Puppy Rescue is a San Francisco-based nonprofit operating throughout the Bay Area that saves roughly 300-400 puppies, pregnant and nursing dogs every year. Fully run by volunteers, the rescue relies on local foster families to provide temporary care for puppies while they are available to be adopted into their forever homes.
Recently, the number of pets in shelters has increased dramatically, leaving the organization in serious need of more foster volunteers. Volunteer Indrani Stangl said that during the early days of the pandemic, shelters were nearly empty due to a sudden widespread desire to get a dog while stuck at home. Stangl has volunteered with the organization for 15 years, serving as president for three, and currently serves as a contact for shelters to connect rescue animals with foster families.
She noted that, in the past year or so, many dogs who were adopted mid-pandemic have been abandoned or surrendered.
"I probably get pinged 20 times a day about a puppy or a litter or a pregnant dog, and I have to say no because I don't have the resources to take them," Stangl said.
McComas describes the experience of fostering as truly rewarding, citing the feeling of saving a life and being directly involved in the process of placing a puppy with a loving family.
"Everyone always says to me, how do you let the dogs go?" McComas said, "I always tell them, the best part is getting to interview all these different families and you just meet these great people that you just know instantly, they're gonna give the best lives to these dogs."
Colleen Kaiser, a Belmont resident who has fostered with Pound Puppy for nine years, expressed similar sentiments about the value of contributing to a puppy's life by getting to know them.
"They all have such unique personalities, they're all special in their own way," Kaiser said.
She's fostered nearly 50 dogs, and called the feeling of placing a puppy fantastic.
"It feels so good," Kaiser said, "and then a lot of times you get these follow-up pictures of the puppy settling in, I even get Christmas cards from some of the families, with the puppies on it."
While both McComas and Kaiser note the effort that fostering takes, both mentioned the value of Pound Puppy's strong support system. On June 23, McComas took in an approximately 8-week-old puppy named Socks, who she described as super snuggly and very smart. A few days later, Kaiser took Socks in for a few days to help out due to a planned trip, an example of volunteer support that occurs occasionally.
When a foster family takes in a puppy, Pound Puppy covers all expenses and works with its volunteer network to help fosters when they need it, from dropping off food to coordinating transportation.
"It's a pretty tight community," Kaiser said, "we have a Facebook page where we can ask each other questions or get support."
In shelters throughout California, puppies are regularly put down due to the amount of effort necessary to take care of them, part of a nationwide trend of rising euthanization numbers. Pound Puppy gets a significant number of puppies from shelters and individual contacts in Central California, including Fresno and Coalinga. By placing puppies with foster families, Pound Puppy works to reduce the number of puppies being euthanized as well as reduce crowding at shelters.
Unlike some programs that offer a "foster-to-adopt" program, which allows families to have temporary custody over a pet to determine if they are a good fit, Pound Puppy uses foster families solely to provide care while looking for a permanent adoptive family.
More information on Pound Puppy, including how to apply to foster or to adopt, is on its website, poundpuppyrescue.org or by emailing [email protected] Its Facebook page, @poundpuppyrescue, regularly posts descriptions and photos of puppies available for adoption.