Finding foster placements for animals at the St. Joseph Bay Humane Society is always a priority, said Mary Freytag, a volunteer at the shelter.
But with winter weather quickly approaching, it has become an emergency.
The shelter is exceeding their current capacity for indoor runs, and while they have outdoor quarantine kennels that can accommodate the overflow, when temperatures dip below freezing, this is simply not an option.
“We need foster placements in general,” Freytag said, “but with the cold weather snaps, (fostering) certainly does help to get our animals out of our quarantine building.”
The shelter’s workers keep a running list of potential fosters in color-coordinated handwriting on a whiteboard behind the Humane Society’s front desk – people currently fostering, people who have applied to foster, people who are being matched with a foster pet.
That list has been growing over the past couple weeks, the shelter said, thanks largely to an experimental social media campaign they launched last week.
With winter weather approaching, the shelter workers took to Facebook to ask members of the community to consider providing a temporary home for an animal over the weekend. The shelter said many members of the community stepped in to help.
“There are just not enough words to express how thankful we are for our community,” they wrote in a Facebook post. “So many of you answered the call to shelter a fur baby or two during this cold front coming in. Because of your desire to help, we had ample room for our outside animals to come inside and stay warm.”
Low temperatures are expected to be around 28 degrees fahrenheit on Saturday and Sunday, and now the shelter is hoping to recreate some of this campaign’s success.
On Tuesday, they posted to Facebook again, asking for foster placements to keep the animals for a few nights or longer.
“The St. Joseph Bay Humane Society is in desperate need of fosters. Shelter is full and cold,” it read.
The shelter currently has 22 indoor dog runs, all of which are taken. Employees estimated that, while it can be difficult to get an exact number of pets in their care with the number that continue to be brought in, around 19 dogs were currently having to sleep in crates around the office or in outdoor quarantine runs.
While all dogs would be brought indoors with freezing temperatures, shelter workers explained that long hours in small dog crates can make pets feel uncomfortable, frightened or restless.
The shelter provides for the food, supplies and medical costs of foster animals.
For more information about fostering animals, visit the Humane Society’s website at https://www.sjbhumanesociety.org/ or call the shelter at 850-227-1103.
For those who cannot foster, the shelter is asking that community members consider bringing in towels, blankets, sheets and cat or dog beds to help keep the animals warm.