Families foster cats and dogs during COVID-19 pandemic

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Scott Koh

Junior Scott Koh and his sister, Sara ('19), are fostering puppies during the pandemic.

Mia Baumann and Sara Doyle

Over the past three years, sophomore Rex Price and his sister, senior Abigail, have fostered dozens of cats, honing their animal-whispering skills to befriend even the most antisocial and territorial of animals and make them feel more comfortable in their temporary homes. 

The Price family rescues cats from the pound and provides them with temporary homes, taking in felines from newborn kittens to feral cats. When adapting to their temporary homes, the cats tend to make the Prices’ home their own, digging holes in the bed and knocking over furniture.

“It is your responsibility to give these animals a safe place to live, and you have to deal with that inconveniencing you from time to time,” Rex said. “I would only encourage you to foster animals if you have the time, space and patience to deal with new animals with varying personalities and backgrounds.”

The Price family typically houses the cats for a week to a month before they are transported to Colorado to find permanent adoptive families. No matter how deeply Rex bonds with one of the animals, he cautions against getting too attached to avoid hindering the cats’ transitions into their new lives.

“Our job is to provide a place to stay away from the pound and euthanization and make them feel comfortable before going to their new family,” Rex said. “Even if it’s hard, they have to go.” 

After learning about the Rescued Pets Movement (RPM), which connects animals from Houston’s BARC animal shelter with foster homes, from Lily Schueppert (‘19), junior Scott Koh and his sister Sara (‘19) started fostering. The demand for foster animals has increased as families seek companionship during social isolation, so Scott contacted four animal shelters before he and his family were finally able to foster two six-week old puppies.

“They were a constant source of entertainment and much-appreciated relief from the monotony of quarantine life,” Scott said.

His biggest obstacle was that the puppies weren’t potty trained, a small price to pay considering that the shelter provided all of the necessary puppy pads and food so that the Koh family wouldn’t have to pay any expenses. Only ten days later, the Kohs found themselves parting with their four-legged friends, who were sent to Colorado for a permanent home. 

Prospective pet owners are not allowed to meet the animals in-person before making the decision to adopt because of coronavirus concerns, so shelters have moved the adoption process entirely online.

Although parting with the puppies was difficult, Scott eagerly watches for more updates from RPM about other opportunities to foster.

“I would 100% encourage other families to foster animals as it is a relatively easy, fulfilling and entertaining experience,” Scott said. “I believe that now is a great time to try something new that you have never had the time to do previously, and fostering is a great way to help out the animal shelters in Houston.”