By: Isabela Caravela
Two years ago, JCHS students Isabella and Alexa Camerino took on a new role in addition to being athletes, students, and helpers of the community: foster puppy parents. Fostering puppies include the responsibilities of bringing homeless puppies into their own homes with the goal of nurturing them for a period of time until they can be adopted into a permanent home with a permanent family who will love them forever. Foster puppy parents take on a vital role in contributing to the animal rescue world by helping helpless puppies who are in need of a loving home.
For the purposes of this article, I interviewed Isabella Camerino, who is the main contributor in her household when it came to making the executive decision in beginning to foster dogs. She is also the main provider and caretaker for the dogs once they come into her home and all throughout the adoption period when they have to leave. She decided to start fostering dogs in August of 2018. She said, “I wanted to start
fostering dogs after I started volunteering at Orphan Pets. They asked me if I was interested in fostering dogs in my own home and I happily said yes.” The dogs that they foster are within the organization Orphan Pets but according to Isabella, “The dogs come from Bowling Green, Kentucky. There’s a really big shelter down there, but not a lot of people who are willing to adopt them. There are a lot of stray dogs because of this, so they have a big transport truck that sends the homeless dogs to other places that will hopefully have more residents willing to adopt them such as New Jersey. They make a bunch of stops on the way up here at different shelters as well”.
Once the dogs arrive from Kentucky, Isabella says, “Carol, the leader of Orphan Pets will meet the truck of dogs in Parsippany, and she will bring the dogs into the shelter, where I will then pick up 1-3 dogs and bring them home.” In their home, they have a crate set up in their kitchen with several dog toys in it and a food and water bowl located just outside of the crate. They typically keep the dogs in the crate, but they fence off their kitchen area with pillows blocking the stairs and close the doors; the dogs can run around the kitchen and play outside of the crate with Isabella, her family, and friends who come to see the new puppies. “Normally when we first get dogs a lot my friends around 10-15 love to come play with them,” says Isabella. “It’s a fun, playful way to assimilate the new dogs to a socially interactive environment with humans and a fun way to hangout with friends.”
Fostering puppies comes with a lot of responsibility. Anyone who has ever had a dog knows how much energy puppies have and how much work it is to supervise untrained dogs. Isabella says, “We have to clean up after them, give them food, water, and make
sure they get enough exercise to eventually tire them out with all of the energy they have. Looking after puppies can be a lot of work, especially during the school year with athletics and academics. I also have to contact people so they can get adopted.”
For fostering puppies, there is of course an adoption process that comes with it. Isabella explains, “I keep the dogs for around 2-3 weeks until they are old enough and have found a family willing to adopt them. Typically Carol will put pictures of the dogs with a short description on a website called Petfinder. People submit applications to adopt the dogs, and if Carol likes the application, she will send it to me. I then will email them and begin figuring out times that they can come see the dogs. Once they visit the dogs, and if they like them, they will fill out paperwork and then come back to pick them up once the dogs are ready to leave.”
Fostering dogs can be risky if an emotional relationship between foster parents and dogs form, because there is the risk that they won’t want to let them go. Isabella says, “I love all of the dogs I foster, and it is very hard to give them up. It is a reassuring feeling
though that they will be adopted into a family that is willing to take them in and love them forever. I have fostered 37 dogs and loved every single one of them. I would recommend fostering puppies because it’s very rewarding and good if you want a dog but not ready for the life long commitment of owning a dog.” The Camerino family continues to foster dogs and help the homeless stray dogs who need the loving companionship of humans.