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Dog Fostering Rises While Americans Stay Home

Tom Drescher and his wife, Becky Nolin, adopted Goldie, a Terrier Pitbull mix, during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Tom Drescher)

A silver lining of the current pandemic is that rescue dogs are finding foster homes at higher than normal rates right now, according to the Humane Rescue Alliance, an animal welfare organization in Washington, DC.

More people have also reached out about adopting than was the case pre-coronavirus, says Ashley Valm, director of adoptions at the organization’s two shelters.

Lucky dog

Just ask Tom Drescher and his wife, Becky Nolin, who, after browsing online for a few months, finally settled on a terrier Pitbull mix named Goldie.

“My wife and I had been talking for quite a while about the idea of adopting a dog,” Drescher told VOA during an interview via Zoom.

With both now working from home, they decided it was a perfect time to make the move.

“We kept coming back to Goldie’s profile because the photos were charming and there was a streamed video of her and we decided that it would make sense for us to get over to the Humane Rescue Alliance shelter,” said Drescher.


Puppy Love in the Time of Coronavirus
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The friendly canine had been a favorite at the shelter, and in a few short weeks has settled in at the couple’s Washington home.

“It made a lot of sense to us to adopt a dog now because we realized that we could give Goldie the time and the attention and care that she needed,” Drescher said. “And as first-time dog owners ourselves, we would have the bandwidth to be able to do that -- sort of learning as we go, and to get it right.”

Old is gold

At 10½, Goldie is older than most adoptees, and has a few health issues; but, that was just fine with the couple.

“We recognized that it was a good opportunity for us with extra time to take in a dog that otherwise might not be adopted,” he said. “It didn't take long for us to bring her home and fall in love with her and, geez…when they told us that she might have a couple weeks, she might have a couple years, I hope it's the latter because we really love having her here.”

In the short time they’ve known her, the couple have already learned a lot about their canine companion, including the fact that she’s a picky eater.

“She loves chicken in all its various forms,’ Drescher said. “She is a huge fan of especially rotisserie chicken -- and just goes nuts with that.”

And despite her age and medical conditions, she’s also energetic, he added.

“When we take her out on walks, she’s eager to chase squirrels and she walks at a fairly fast pace.”

Coming surge

Ashley Valm said she hopes more people will adopt and foster as the shelters prepare for an increase in intake.

Speaking via Zoom, she said the organization anticipates a surge in animal surrenders in the coming weeks and months, “whether that’s because people are experiencing financial stress, having to move in with family members or friends, give up their housing, or if they get sick and can't take care of their animal,” she said.

A dog waiting to find its forever home in its kennel at a Washington-area shelter operated by the Humane Rescue Alliance. (Courtesy Humane Rescue Alliance)
A dog waiting to find its forever home in its kennel at a Washington-area shelter operated by the Humane Rescue Alliance. (Courtesy Humane Rescue Alliance)

Valm said while the shelters are doing everything they can to prepare for more animals, she hopes people will use this opportunity to help ease that burden.

“I think right now a lot of people are struggling with anxiety, uncertainty, maybe an adjustment in their routine, workload, working from home -- there's a lot to be focused on,” she said. “And adopting an animal -- or taking an animal into your home as a foster -- can provide some relief just in the form of having something positive to focus on.”

Tom Drescher couldn’t agree more.

“I think for all of us, there's a lot of uncertainty about how our lives look now, and that continues to be true in lots of ways,” he said. “But having Goldie around and as a companion, it’s given us something to do that feels really rewarding.”

Drescher added, “If you're wondering whether or not it will in fact provide the boost of enjoyment and entertainment and love in your life, for us it definitely does and it's definitely worth it.”