By Stacey Tinsley, firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s sadly become a common sight around town — a stray cat eating trash in an alley or a dog wandering a neighborhood street. And people are stepping up to help put an end to it being all that common.
The stray pet population in Shreveport-Bossier has put a strain on the resources of many different organizations – from city animal control to nonprofits seeking to help. That is why there are shelters stepping up to take in and neuter/spay animals and re-home them to a family eager for affection.
One of these local shelters, Shreveport-Bossier Animal Rescue (SBAR), is a non-profit rescue dedicated to improving the lives of homeless and unwanted cats by providing shelter and medical care while finding loving and responsible homes. Run completely by volunteers and funded by donors, SBAR’s goals are to work on ending feline overpopulation in this area and reduce euthanasia at the local “kill shelters,” while educating the public on responsible pet ownership.
A resource for SBAR is foster parents. Many people would like to help homeless animals but don’t have the resources to adopt them. Fostering helps animals become socialized to be more adoptable, and it frees up space and resources at the shelter for other animals in need.
SBAR’s Treasurer Christy Mathis says animal foster parents play a critical part at SBAR.
“Animal foster parents are a crucial piece to SBAR. If we didn’t have animal foster parents, then we wouldn’t be able to pull as many animals as we could and they would be euthanized. They are saving lives.” Mathis said.
Two of these foster parents are Bossier Press-Tribune employees and Bossier City residents, Sean and Jamie Green.
They have been fostering kittens and cats in conjunction with SBAR since the spring of 2017. To date, they have fostered a total of 75 cats and or kittens, almost all of whom are now in loving homes. Recently, they fostered and adopted out five kittens.
“SBAR is doing the Lord’s work when it comes to taking care of cats. And they have never turned us down when it comes to helping animals in need,” Sean added. “There is only so much space at the shelter, and there are always more cats that need help. So, by having people donate their time and open their homes to these animals, it allows SBAR to find permanent homes for them and then take in more cats. It’s just a never ending cycle, and as long as we’re needed, we’ll be here to help.”
They came to SBAR after Jamie got to know a client of her former workplace, Sharon Harmon, who fostered and volunteered. Mrs. Harmon set Jamie up to meet with SBAR and she came away ready to help.
“The more fosters there are, the more cats they can take in, and the more lives are saved. The cats that are taken in are spayed and neutered, which reduces the stray pet population and helps solve this problem in our area,” said Jamie.
Their day is, as Sean joked, filled with cat box cleaning. But actually, the couple is responsible for feeding, cleaning up after, and giving medicines to the kittens and/or cats living with them. They are also on the hook for transporting to and from vet trips for checkups, vaccinations, or even spay/neuters, as well as volunteering at adoption events to answer questions from prospective adopters.
But just as importantly, they are also responsible for socializing the animals to be with people and other animals.
“Many of these cats are going to homes with other cats or dogs. So we want them to be comfortable around other pets and see how their personalities mesh — some need to be in a home by themselves, and some need to be in a group of animals. So we want to make sure they go to the right home,” said Jamie.
She pointed out that SBAR pays for all the vet trips, surgeries, and medicines needed for fosters. This is on top of the food, litter, and materials at the shelter. She says that is why donations are so important.
“There are so many needs and SBAR gets by on donations and help from the community. That can be anything from a few dollars to donating food and litter. Any help is appreciated,” said Jamie. “It doesn’t go to anyone’s pocket, it goes to helping these animals.”
Sean added that it all goes towards saving lives.
“We usually take in animals that are homeless or have been abandoned, animals that would otherwise likely die or be put down. There have been times where the situation that brought the fosters to us was infuriating,” he said. “But to be able to take in these good-natured pets that were not given a fair chance and help them find a home so they can get the love they deserve is rewarding. Bittersweet, but rewarding.”
Sean admits he has to fight himself from becoming attached to the fosters. In fact, the couple has already adopted two former fosters they became bonded with that they felt wouldn’t find a home. He said Jamie is usually “the bad guy” who gets him to let go. It’s a dynamic that works for them and they both put in a lot of time playing with and petting kittens.
“We both have the scars to prove it,” he joked. “But it takes a lot of time with these cats. I mean, you’re talking weeks of feeding, cleaning, petting, playing with, and caring for. It can take a toll emotionally, mentally, and physically. But to see them bring joy to others’ lives is the endgame.”
Jamie said seeing them grow and develop in her home, and then go to someone who wants and will love them is her reward.
“When you’re up all night feeding babies who have to take a bottle and giving medicine to sick ones, to then see the pictures of them in their new homes makes it all worth it.”
If you are interested in fostering, adopting, or want to learn more, visit shreveportbossieranimalrescue.org.