By Bethe Almeras, WHS Adoptions Volunteer & Foster Human
This post is part of a series on fostering shelter animals. I wanted to give people a glimpse into what it is like to foster and how important it is to both animals and communities. And really, what better way to do that than going straight to the source? There are lots of ways you can support your local foster program -- become a foster "human" yourself, donate money or needed supplies, help provide transport to spay/neuter clinics, or take on other volunteer jobs. Help save lives -- get involved in fostering! In the DC area, visit the Washington Humane Society for more information.
Name: Heidi Ridgley
How long have you been fostering: Since the late 1990s
Number of animals fostered: I stopped counting about 10 years ago after about 350 (adult) cats. With dogs, it’s probably nearing 75 dogs.
Do you have a resident pet: Two cats, two dogs, all adopted from WHS!
Type of place you live: A row house in Columbia Heights.
Bethe: What made you decided to foster, and how did you get connected with Washington Humane Society (WHS)?
Heidi : I wanted to volunteer with shelters, and when I moved into a dog-friendly building I called the New York Avenue Adoption Center to see if I could foster because I wanted to do it for a shelter that really needed the help freeing up the cage space. I told them they would have to pick the dog for me—because I could not know I was leaving others to a different fate—and I would just come to the lobby for a pick up. After my first dog, the shelter called me and told me about a really great big black cat that wasn’t going to make it out. Would I take him, too? I said, I couldn’t. I’d want to keep him separate from my cats, so the only place I could put him was my bathroom. I didn’t expect the enthusiastic “okay!” Houdini was over 5, fat and pure black. I put a hand-drawn sign with little pull tabs with my phone number in the elevators of my large apartment building, and he was adopted in about a week! I couldn’t believe it. So I called right away for another one, and another.
Bethe: What has been the most rewarding part of fostering for you? And on the flipside, the most difficult?