Bears lend a paw: Students help Humane Society as foster parents

One of many shelter dogs that was up for adoption during a fundraiser event. Kenneth Prabhakar | Photo Editor

By Piper Rutherford | Staff Writer

The Humane Society of Central Texas has nearly 200 dogs waiting to be fostered and provides resources to set foster applicants up for success.

Brooke Farrell, the Humane Society’s director of development and public relations, said that while foster parents may only be taking one dog under their wing, they are doing an act of service for other dogs at the shelter by decreasing the number on the at-risk list and freeing up a crate.

“Right now, we have 190 dogs on site, and we started the day at 191,” Farrell said. “Usually, we are slightly more comfortable around 170. However, we are constantly avoiding euthanasia as best we can. Here, there are few dogs that are irredeemably suffering on site. The vast majority are ready to bond with humans and find their forever home. So our foster network provides extra kennels for us in the meantime.”

The process to become a foster parent includes an evaluation of an at-home environment, a background check, visits to match with the right dog and a signed agreement with the landlord to ensure the breed is allowed in the apartment complex.

While operating at a high magnitude, Farrell said the Humane Society has appreciated the work of past and current Baylor students more than ever. Some of these students have taken on the shelter’s long-term sensitive dogs, who require more time and patience, such as Hickory Hope.

“Hickory Hope was rescued last summer after she creeped high up on our at-risk list,” Farrell said. “She did not like to be touched by people who she was not close with, and this wonderful Baylor foster built a relationship on site with Hickory by spending more time with her as a volunteer and eventually checked with her apartment to see if it was pit bull-friendly. It was hard for Hickory to warm up at first, but her foster has since graduated and foster-failed her, [adopting her and] taking her to her home state, where they now live together.”

Litchfield, N.H, sophomore Liam Chapman is a Humane Society volunteer and a new foster parent to Buddy — a 10-month-old Labrador retriever who he rescued three weeks ago.

“I was with a couple of my friends, and they brought him out into the yard area at the Humane Society,” Chapman said. “And Buddy immediately ran over to me and was super friendly and did not show any signs of being a threat, even though he weighs about 80 to 90 pounds, which can look scary or concerning at first.”

As for the challenges he has encountered since starting to foster Buddy, Chapman said they are limited to potty-training and learning how to best take care of him while being a full-time college student.

“The people at the Humane Society were really helpful, and I was able to settle on Buddy pretty quickly since they said that he did not need as much attention,” Chapman said. “That said, when you go get a dog, make sure to give it a week or two when you don’t have a ton of things going on, since you want to get to know their mannerisms and make sure they are comfortable in your home.”

Chapman said the dogs benefit from their foster parents, but the foster parents themselves also end up being changed for the better. He said the dogs bring moments of laughter throughout busy days.

“My favorite memory so far is one of the first times that my friend and I took Buddy for a long walk, which was about 6 miles or so,” Chapman said. “And when we were at the end of it, about a mile from our apartment on our way back, Buddy was super hot and just stopped walking, demanding that we carry him back, even though he weighs so much. He is truly the best. Now I know not to walk him as far, especially in the Texas heat.”