Shelter dogs find new homes amid coronavirus health crisis

New foster program helps clear shelters and find home for animals.

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Provided by Pexels

As many across Long Beach find themselves stuck in their houses, some residents are opening their homes to new furry friends.

Over the past few weeks, Long Beach residents have helped clear the Long Beach Animal Care Shelter (LBACS) by fostering dogs at their homes.

Live Love Animal Rescue, a local nonprofit dedicated to helping animals find foster homes, launched the program on March 20.

According to Emily Peters, the founder and executive director of Live Love Animal Rescue, the purpose of the program is to provide a place for dogs to stay as the shelter cut back on staff and hours due to the ongoing health crisis.

Peters, who works alongside the LBACS on one of Mayor Robert Garcia’s strategic task forces, heard about the cutbacks during a conference.

“We were in one of those meetings, and they’re talking about what’s going to happen when the shelter closes,” Peters said. “It comes pretty naturally to us to do this because we run the Foster the Fourth program also in July.”

The new program is similar to the Foster-the-Fourth program in that it helps pair shelter dogs with foster homes during July– a month where shelter dogs are more likely to be euthanized.

According to Peters, the response to the new foster program was immediate. In the first week, about 80% of the dogs in the shelter found a foster home.

Volunteers could sign up to be to foster a dog through a form on the rescue’s website. Then they would go through a background check and home inspection before being approved.

The rescue received over 300 applications and eventually had to take the form down from the website.

People who could not house a dog helped by donating crates and supplies. One person gave a box of 50 identification tags that they made at a Petsmart.

“I’m just so amazed and humbled and overjoyed by this Long Beach community,” Peters said. “Any time we put a call out for anything, whether it be crates or if we needed martingale collars, [or] we needed more ID tags, people just showed up in droves to help [offer] support.”

The rescue is also working on finding permanent homes, or “forever homes,” for the shelter dogs.

The Live Love Animal Rescue is planning on holding virtual adoptions for the animals sometime this month, possibly through Facebook and Instagram, to give anyone looking to adopt a chance to see the dogs.

However, Peters says that at least a dozen applicants have already told her that they intend to keep the dog they are fostering– some as quickly as a few days.

“We […] have foster fails, and it’s the best way to fail,” Peters said.

Moving forward, Peters hopes that the success of the program shows the value of foster programs over traditional shelters.

Through foster programs, dogs receive training before they are eligible for a foster family. The training helps set structure and boundaries for the dogs, which helps them integrate into their new homes quicker.

For this reason, Peters believes that foster programs are more cost-effective for taxpayers, as well as better for animals in general.

“The future of our shelter is foster families caring for these dogs,” Peters said, “which will just be better for everyone all the way around.”