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Foster Owners Needed to Help San Antonio Achieve 'No Kill' Status

Eileen Pace

Thirty percent of the rescued animals in San Antonio have health issues or injuries. Because of this, medical fosters are a growing need on the road to San Antonio’s “No-Kill” objective.

At the City’s Animal Care Services facility that are used by San Antonio Pets Alive! to pull dogs off the kill list, Lynn Walker points to a dozen or so kennels. 

"Every dog you see here has been on the euthanasia list," she says.

Pets Alive is an animal rescue whose goal is to get animals out of shelters and into homes. Sometimes those homes are temporary, or foster homes.

"I actually take on the medical fosters when we need them," Walker says.

The need is ongoing. The day I visited the ACS facility, Calina Krugler of Pets Alive was caring for a mixed-breed dog that had been hit by a car. Her jaws had been broken and together to heal. She would have to rest for a month in a cage, and she needs a foster parent who can change her bandages every day.

"She's got a fracture in her arm, but it doesn't go all the way through. So she gets around great and she bounces around. She's so excited and she's got great spirit," Krugler notes.

But even without getting into fights or car accidents, dogs on the street are in danger of getting sick. Some get mange or Parvo or other treatable diseases. Many get heart worms.

"A heartworm dog basically is like any other foster, except they're going through heartworm treatment," Walker said.

"They have to get a treatment--it's a shot. It kills the heartworms in their heart, " explains Vicki Lucero, a volunteer with SA Pets Alive.

She said fosters who take care of Heartworm-positive dogs just need a little patience – and the fosters who take them in are literally saving the dog’s life.

"They have to rest for close to two months. They can only be treated when they can go to a foster home where they can be kept quiet in a crate or kept from running around and having fun," says Lucero.

Full disclosure: I have fostered a heartworm-positive dog, and it was very rewarding. Medical fosters can come from anywhere in the community: home health care workers, nurses, physical therapists, firefighters. SA Pets Alive has rescued five thousand animals this year, and with the holidays approaching, is asking people to give the gift of their medical expertise to helping a pet get healthy and ready for adoption.

Update (Nov. 26, 2012): Although SA Pets Alive was the rescue that I interviewed for this story, there are several rescue organizations in the San Antonio area that also take in sick and injured animals. Rescues and animal organizations are able to offer free veterinary care for their fosters, micro-chipping, and sometimes food and cages through the generous donations of community members and others. My experience in fostering heartworm-positive dogs was with homesforpets.org. A list of animal organizations and foster care resources is available at www.mysanantonio.com/life/pets/article/Pet-Adoption-Foster-Care-Resources-905151.php.