DOBSON — Officials with the Surry County Animal Shelter are in the planning stages of an initiative they hope will spare the lives of more county animals.
And they are seeking help from the public.
Maggie Simmons, a spokesperson for the Surry County Health and Nutrition Center, which oversees shelter operations, confirmed Thursday that a foster home initiative has been in the planning stages for months.
“We began planning for the project in December when we put the idea of a foster care program into our strategic plan,” she said. “Since that point, animal control officials have been talking with shelters in other counties who offer a foster program to get some ideas of how to get the project off the ground.”
The goal, Simmons said, is to lower the kill rate at the shelter by freeing up space.
“It’s a space issue at the shelter,” she said. “We have a very small shelter, so the more animals we can place in foster homes the better.
“We want to give animals that second chance that they might not have been offered in the past.”
The program, which is set to kick off on Aug. 1, is also a way to reach out to rescue groups, with whom the shelter has had a somewhat contentious relationship over the past several years.
At least one rescue group is welcoming the idea with open arms.
“I think it’s just wonderful,” said Jane Taylor of Mayberry4Paws, “because if they can get foster homes that will free up space at the shelter and hopefully reduce the number of dogs put down.”
Simmons said shelter officials are actively seeking foster homes.
“We want to get it up and running this summer, and when we do we hope to have a list of approved foster homes in place to save as many animals as we can,” she said.
Anyone interested in becoming a foster home should call Kelly Payne at the animal shelter at 401-8481, Simmons said.
Taylor said the move could herald a new relationship between rescuers and the shelter.
“The thinking (involved in putting together the program) is much more aligned with rescue and adoption than in the past,” she said. “Foster care is an integral part of rescue.”
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.