Foster Families Give Dogs a Chance

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COLUMBIA - Adopting a dog is not the only way to save a canine's life. For members of the Sample family, fostering is a way to save dogs and improve their family relationships.

Jacque Sample said she, her husband and their children have stopped counting the number of dogs they have taken into their homes, after about 20 or 30.

In fact, last year the Sample family won the Central Missouri Humane Society's Foster Family of the Year award.

The family fostered two pit bull puppies, who rescuers found in empty vacuum boxes in the garbage, now appropriately named Dyson and Hoover. The family originally had three puppies, but one died after a short while.

When the Samples began fostering these dogs, they were very sick. 

"They were really scrawny, you could really see every rib, every bone," Stephen Sample said.

The point of foster care is to nurse sick dogs back to health, make room for other animals in the shelter and to prepare animals not yet ready for adoption.

The humane society's foster coordinator, Jennifer Romsburg, said her organization does a lot more adoptions than fosters, in part because many people just don't know about the program's benefits.

"The foster families really get to pick and choose what times they want to do it, we really work with their schedules," Romsburg said.

She said temporarily housing a dog allows families to take vacations and get their breaks, while saving as many lives as possible.

While the committment is not permanent, one major benefit is the price. The shelter pays for food, supplies and vaccinations and the foster families provide a home and love for the pups.

Jacque Sample said fostering is one of the best things the family has done together.

"We've learned a lot about ourselves and the family and what kind of dogs match with our family, and that's really so important when you're thinking about getting an animal," she said.

Sample said fostering sparked a lot of good conversation with her sons about caring for animals. She said they love having the dogs.

"There are pups out there who might not have a home yet and need your help to get well from their sickness, grow up and be able to be cared for. The humane society can't do it itself," son Zak Sample said.

HOW TO FOSTER

The Central Missouri Humane Society often features animals on a Facebook page, posting pictures of cats and dogs in need of somewhere to stay for a while. The society also runs a rescue program, where it searches for people to transport pets to other cities and states as needed.

It's website lists frequently asked questions about fostering, offers more details on the program and a link to foster care applications.

Columbia Second Chance runs a similar fostering program, paying for food and supplies as long as the foster family provides a temporary home. 

(Editor's Note: This story is part of the KOMU 8 News series "Rescued Dogs: Beyond the Cage." Stories included a gallery of photos of adopted dogs from the families who love them.)

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