December 2019 Volunteer Spotlight — Kevin and Heather Ford

How did you get involved in fostering?

We started volunteering with the VBSPCA in 2016 in other areas: special events, dog walking, helping in the cattery. I wanted to foster as well but was concerned about the time commitment. After about 6 months I signed up for foster orientation. It really didn’t sound that intimidating, especially when fostering older kittens. So we put our name down as available to foster and waited. This was January or February. Kitten season doesn’t start until March or April. We took in 5 kittens for our first time, which is a lot of kittens for a first timer. But we managed it and have been fostering ever since. Due to work schedules, we haven’t been able to foster bottle feeders or puppies.

Why should someone foster an animal with the Holiday Elf Program?

The shelter is a stressful environment for an animal. The shelter staff and volunteers do a great job to try to minimize that, but it is still stressful. Fostering with the Holiday Elf Program is an opportunity to help out in way that can fit almost any schedule while having a very positive impact for the animal. And in return you get to cuddle with a dog, cat, or other critter for the holiday season. It is a way to give and get at the same time.

Any special stories about a specific animal that you have fostered?

The hard part is narrowing down the stories. We fostered Jalapeno last summer with his brother, Chili, and 4 older kittens from a different litter. When it was time to send them off for adoption (first the older kittens with Jalapeno and Chili following two weeks later) we did so with a heavy heart. He just kind of struck something for us. After about 5 weeks all the kittens except Jalapeno had been adopted. Jalapeno had two applications during that time which fell through. So Kevin and I decided we couldn’t give him up and went back and adopted him. He is such a cool cat and gets along well with our other pets, especially our dog Cookie. Those two have a weird bond.

What is the personal impact volunteering at the VBSPCA has had on the lives of you and your husband?

It is fascinating to watch kittens grow and develop unique personalities. Young animals can get sick easily in the shelter and have a high mortality rate, making the foster program very important. We get to “play” with kittens while helping them grow healthy, strong, and ready for their forever homes. It isn’t easy. Kittens are messy and high energy. Each time it has been hard to let them go. We do so knowing that there is another litter needing a place to land so they can grow healthy, strong, and ready for their forever home.