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image Phantom is one-year old male looking for a foster home to prepare him for his permanent home. Phantom needs a teacher - someone willing to help him learn some basic commands.

October 22, 2013
Dog outreach program seeks foster volunteers

Initiative is to save dogs from euthanasia 

Tooele Animal Outreach needs volunteers—especially those who love small dogs—to help foster adoptable pets from the Tooele and Grantsville animal shelters.

Tooele Animal Outreach, a local non-profit that focuses on finding homes for abandoned pets, has maintained a small but successful foster program for the last ten years.

Volunteers with the program “foster” dogs who find themselves on shelter euthanasia lists simply because they have been homeless for too long. The dogs stay in their foster home temporarily—usually one to six months, Tooele Animal Outreach director Marci Wicks said—until a permanent home is located.

The foster program currently has about five local participants, she said, and between their foster homes and various adoption campaigns, she estimated Tooele Animal Outreach “rehomes” about 125 dogs every year, about 75 of which are fostered are some point.

Still, Wicks said she would like to see the number of available foster homes double, or even triple. In particular, she said, there is a need for foster families that would be willing to take in small dogs—her current volunteers are happy to take in labs or even pits, but don’t care for the smaller breeds.

Having additional foster homes available would also help care for dogs that find themselves in emergency situations, Wicks said. For example, Wicks herself recently took in a dog when it started having stress-induced seizures at the shelter.

“Some dogs don’t handle the shelters well,” she said. “Our goal is to have a good network of people for those little emergencies.”

Tooele Animal Outreach provides foster volunteers with food and supplies for the dogs, and provides necessary veterinary care. The organization also arranges volunteer training for the foster families. However, to become a foster volunteer, residents must meet a number of criteria—their yard must be properly fenced, for example, and any other animals in the home must be spayed or neutered.

Those interested in fostering homeless dogs can start the process by filling out an application online at tooeleanimaloutreach.com.

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