'Forever homes' sought out for rescue and foster dogs at Petco adoption event
After two failed adoption attempts, dog foster parent Karen Spaulding wondered if she would become, yet again, another “foster failure.”
Amid hot, humid temperatures outside the Ann Arbor Petco at 3537 Washtenaw Ave., the Dexter resident attempted to adopt out her 2-year-year old Louisiana Catahoula Leopard dog “Joli” during the pet store’s first “Mega Adoption Event” Saturday. Approximately 200 people attended the event, where animal rescue organizations Last Day Dog Rescue from Livonia and Planned Pethood from Toledo, Ohio showcased about 30 dogs and 50 cats in an attempt to find them permanent homes.
“It’s hard when they come back and you love them,” Spaulding said. “I definitely love her, but when we adopt the dogs out, we look to the best fit.”
Spaulding has been a foster parent with the Last Day Dog Rescue since September of 2009, a process where volunteers house homeless pets until they are eventually adopted into a “forever home.” Foster parents who end up adopting the pets themselves, “failing” to adopt out their animals, become “foster failures,” which Spaulding said happened her very first week as a foster parent.
Spaulding and Joli have been on a long journey together. Spaulding, who already owns two dogs, two cats and a parrot, agreed to rescue Joli and all of her seven puppies in November when no other shelters would take them in.
The process involved a relay from Kentucky to Michigan, where volunteers drove parts of the distance to give Joli and her litter a new life. After months of care, including cleaning up frequent puppy diarrhea, Spaulding was able to adopt out all seven of the puppies by February. But for the mother, an unusual breed known for herding and nipping, finding a permanent home proved difficult.
Spaulding said Joli was returned just more than a week after being adopted out in February to a couple whose busy schedules kept Joli locked in a crate for up to 18 hours a day. A second attempt in May to train Joli to be a service dog to help suffering war veterans also failed after a week when Joli’s nipping and herding instincts became a problem.
“They absolutely loved her but she wasn’t a good fit,” she said.
Finding interest in the dog was never the issue. The lab-sized dog with light green eyes and a light brown coat splotched with darker brown spots had striking enough features to always attract attention at adoption events. The difficult part was finding a family with the right energy and temperament to match the dog’s to make sure it’s a good fit.
“We’re looking for the dog to basically pick the people, because they know what kind of energy they like,” said Kathryn Caulfield, a board member of Last Day Dog Rescue. “We like them to be a forever home so that they’ll see them through to the end of their life.”
Though a relatively simple process, pet adoption is not a guarantee. Adoption requires potential owners to fill out a form and undergo a vet check and home visit by one of the organization’s volunteers, a process that can take anywhere from four days to two weeks, Caulfield said. The fees to adopt a dog range from $200-$300, depending on breed and age.
“If it’s a good match, we do the adoption,” she said. “If it’s not a good match, we usually find them a dog that would be a good match.”
Though this was the Ann Arbor Petco’s first “Mega” adoption event, General Manager Mike Curristan said the national pet store hosts adoption events every month, though on a smaller scale. He said the Ann Arbor store helped adopt out more than 400 animals last year, though the goal is not necessarily to adopt out as many animals as possible.
“The goal is to get people to realize that there are so many dogs out there that are abandoned or their owners can’t keep them anymore with these tough economic times,” he said. “We’ll definitely do our best to get that dog adopted out to a great family who can support it.”
For Joli, there’s still hope.
Trenton residents Jesse and Felicia Jones visited the event with their 3-year-old daughter in a search for a family dog young enough to grow up with their daughter, but not a puppy that would cause trouble. They instantly took a liking to Joli.
“She’s very calm, relaxed and she just seems like a perfect-sized dog as well, and the colors of the dog are interesting,” Jesse Jones said.
The Jones filled out the application for Joli, so now they wait to complete the adoption process to see if the dog is a good fit.
For Spaulding, the process would be bittersweet.
“It’ll be hard,” she said. “But I won’t let her go unless I’m really, really sure.”