There’s a cute picture on Golden Paw’s Facebook page showing a dog named Wally sprawled belly up in the grass, obviously enjoying a little romp in the fall leaves.
Accompanying the picture was the following message: “My daughter picked up Wally today for a bit. He started out timid and clingy but got right into it. Wally loved rolling down the hill in the backyard (so did I as a kid). He played with the ‘girls’ just fine.” A later message showed Wally lounging on a couch indoors. “He is making himself at home! He is such a sweet boy.”
Included in the original text was a hashtag:
Home for the Holidays is a brand new pet foster initiative recently launched by Golden Paw officials. It asks local residents to open up their homes to fostering a Golden Paw shelter animal for a short period of time over the holiday season.
Foster families “can take them out for a few days up to a few weeks,” said Lexie Prado, Golden Paw manager. “It helps get (the dogs and cats) out of here; a vacation of sorts.”
After all, every animal should spend the holidays inside a warm house, am I right?
While other shelters commonly foster animals out to the public, Golden Paw hasn’t really gone that route in the past, Prado said.
“We try for the most part to keep the animals here so people can see them, unless it’s a special situation like puppies or seniors or something like that.”
But Home for the Holidays is changing that up a bit.
What’s distinctive about this particular program is a Golden Paw animal is matched directly to a foster person based primarily on personality rather than his or her pretty eyes or age. Folks are required to fill out an application, describing what type of animal they prefer (big or small, quiet or loud, laid back or rambunctious) along with details about the house and those living in it. Based on this feedback, Prado can then match the perfect animal with the perfect foster family.
It’s not a situation where a person will wander to the back of the shelter and select a dog based on its blue eyes or luscious coat or friendly demeanor, Prado said. Rather, “we match a pet that maybe they wouldn’t have looked at otherwise. We’re with these animals every day. We know what they are like.”
Some animals are already out of the shelter and inside homes, such as the aforementioned Wally.
“Some of them will stay through December, and some of them will come back next week (after Thanksgiving),” Prado said.
And some may stay there forever.
“That’s the hope,” she said.
But even if they don’t, it gets them out of the stressful situation of the shelter and into a quiet home.
“We ask (the foster families) to take lots of pictures of them inside the home and send those to us, and we’ll post them on Facebook. People like seeing pictures of animals inside homes,” she continued. “It makes them more adoptable.”
The shelter is full, with about 200 animals. Adoptions continue toward a record-breaking 2019 — they are sitting at 863, and they’re on track to bust the 1,000 mark by the end of the year.
In related news, be sure to check out the Angel Tree located inside the Atwoods of Webb City, 220 SE Road. It went live on Friday and is available through Dec. 24.
“It has tiny stockings with pictures of all of the animals here, and inside has a little paper that you can choose to sponsor the animal or make a charitable donation, or you can leave a donation at the tree. And when they choose a specific animal we actually send them something in the mail about the animal they’re sponsoring and tells about them,” Prado said.
To foster a Golden Paw animal, download the application form (the link is available on the shelter’s Facebook page), fill it out and email the completed form to email@example.com. Or call 417-623-0842 for more information.
Address correspondence to Kevin McClintock, c/o The Joplin Globe, Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.