If you follow me on Instagram then you might have seen that we recently fostered an 11-week old lab mix named Arti (pictured above). She was one of the sweetest dogs I have encountered and we were so lucky to spend 3 weeks watching her grow! She went to her (totally amazing) forever home last week, and I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the experience and am so happy we got involved. If you’re curious about fostering or the different ways you could volunteer with a dog rescue, please see below!
A couple months ago I got involved with Fetch, Wi, a local group that rescues at-risk dogs from shelters and places them in temporary foster care before helping them find forever homes. I signed up to volunteer doing home visits, during which I interview families who are interested in adopting a dog. I had been doing this for a couple weeks when news of a litter of puppies being rescued from Tennessee came down the pipeline. Arti’s photo was near the top of the list, and I instantly fell in love with her. A long conversation with my mister and a few emails later and we were on the list to foster one of the puppies.
I can’t say enough great things about Fetch, I really appreciate how efficient the organization operates. All of the communication is done via email or Facebook groups (so simple and fast) and you’re able to jump in and volunteer when it works for you, with no long-term commitments or pressure. It’s a great way to connect with other people who share a passion for philanthropy, volunteering and most importantly, DOGS! Plus, we do fun things! A monthly Fetch happy hour and other events are in the works! My experience has been so fulfilling! Most of the information below would apply to your local rescue group, too, so if you aren’t located in the Midwest, find a group near you to reach out to.
I recently sat down with Carly, one of Fetch’s founders, to find out more about the group, what kinds of volunteers they need, and how you can get involved! Fetch volunteers are mostly located in the Midwest, and Fetch offers a variety of different ways for you to get involved:
Home Visit Interviewer: You’d visit the homes of families who are interested in adopting a Fetch dog, and conduct a quick interview to assess their home, lifestyle and compatibility as a dog owner. You’ll get occasional emails with a list of potential adopters in your area where home interviews are needed, and if there’s one you’re available to take you will respond via email to set it up. (more info + apply)
Dog Sitter: Fetch has a great network of dog sitters who are available to watch foster dogs on the weekends or while foster families are busy or on vacation. These are vital to the foster support system, and are so valued! We had to find a sitter for Arti both weekends we had her, and were so thankful! If you work during the week, but love the companionship of a dog on the weekends, then volunteering as a dog sitter might be a great fit for you. You’ll get occasional emails with photos of the dogs and dates that they need to be sat, and if you’re available you’ll respond via email to set it up. (more info + apply)
Take dogs to Events: Dog rescues occasionally set up meet & greet events at local pet stores or other locations, and look for volunteers to accompany available dogs to these events. As a meet & greet volunteer you would spend a few hours with an available dog, bring them to the event and share information about the dog and rescue group. (more info + apply)
Provide Transportation: Getting dogs to and from shelters and to and from foster or forever homes involves a lot of transportation logistics! You can sign up with Fetch to provide transportation to dogs in the Midwest, but Fetch also uses another volunteer organization called Kindred Hearts, which is a national organization that provides transportation to relocate animals across the U.S. If you sign up as a volunteer with Kindred Heart you will be contacted if there is a transportation need in your area that you could fulfill. For example, when Arti’s litter was transported from Tennessee it took a long list of volunteers driving 2-3 hour legs of the journey for her to arrive safely in Wisconsin, but many of the requests are shorter and more local. Kindred Hearts has over 24,000 members on Facebook—imagine being part of such a huge dog-loving community! (more info + apply with Fetch or more info about Kindred Hearts)
Foster a dog: If you’re ready to open up your heart and home to a dog, you might consider fostering! Fostering helps keep dogs out of shelters and allows them to live in a friendly home environment before they find their forever home, allowing for a more comfortable transition for the dog. When you receive a foster dog you will typically have them in your care anywhere from 1 week to 2 months, until a foster family is found, matched and selected. Fostering isn’t for the weak of heart: it requires time, patience, skills and most importantly the strength to let the dog go to their new home! For us, saying goodbye was the hardest part! Fostering can be an incredible opportunity for dog lovers who want to give back. Fostering comes with an amazing support system for dog sitting and training. Fetch will provide you with equipment such as kennels, yard pens, etc, and Fetch foster dogs also have access to free daycare services, if needed.
Adopt: Wanna bring a dog into your home? Here are the dogs currently available through Fetch!
Other tasks: Fetch (and other rescue groups, too) are run by volunteers who donate their time and skills for everything from dog training and grooming to photography and clerical work. If you have a skill that you think could benefit a rescue group in your area, reach out! Chances are that they’ll jump at the chance to bring you on board. Fetch is always looking for savvy volunteers to help out with arranging transports, events, fundraisers and more! (more info + apply)
Ready to get involved? Fill out the Volunteer Application with Fetch and prepare for a lot of fun!