This picture of puppies who need a home comes from the Passionate Paws Dog Rescue Facebook page.

LOGAN — Hocking County’s newest animal rescue is struggling to find foster homes.

Passionate Paws Dog Rescue launched late spring of this year. However, without a physical location, Passionate Paws cannot function without foster homes, board President Gina Smalley told The Logan Daily News

“That’s our only resource to take in dogs,” Smalley said.

Fostering is a low-commitment, high-reward way to care for rescue dogs, Smalley explained. Right now, Passionate Paws has 11 dogs in its care; seven of which are three-week-old puppies.

Anyone can be a foster, Smalley said – and she’ll work with hopeful fosters to accommodate their needs and concerns. Passionate Paws supplies everything needed to foster a dog: a crate, food, toys, treats and more.

“All (foster homes) have to supply is the secure home for the dog and the love for the dog,” Smalley said.

It’s also helpful to the rescue if foster homes can transport the dogs to a Lancaster-based veterinarian, Smalley said, though she’s willing to assist if transportation is a concern.

Fosters don’t have to be experienced dog owners, Smalley said. She added that she evaluates each dog to understand its behavior, personality and social skills before matching it to a home. She will also help housebreak dogs.

Fostering is a good option for people who may be on the fence about dog ownership, Smalley said. Even people who have busy lives and work full-time can be good fosters, she explained.

“Fostering is perfect for them because it gives them the experience of having a dog,” Smalley said. “I really think (it’s) a great way to go because then you’ve not taken on the dog permanently while still getting that experience.”

Smalley said if fosters realize it’s not for them, even a day into fostering, she can accommodate that; there’s no minimum amount of time required to foster. Most animals find forever homes quickly; the longest she’s seen a dog in foster care was six months, she said.

Smalley thinks Passionate Paws is not alone in its struggle to find foster homes.

The Hocking County Humane Society is “clear full” at the moment, Board President Carol Bownes said. Both of its locations are full of both cats and dogs, she explained; a total 42 dogs come from a January animal seizure, all reportedly German Shepherds.

“Most of the dogs are court cases so we have to take care of them,” Bownes said. “It makes it rough but we’ve managed so far... The ones that are our dogs and are able to adopt out, we have no problem adopting them. We can’t handle (intakes) right now with all these German Shepherds.”

The Athens Messenger reported this week that the Athens County Dog Shelter is seeing an influx of new residents; both Smalley and Bownes echoed this, Smalley saying she’s heard shelters statewide are “bursting at the seams.”

“I think when everything opened back up from COVID, everybody wanted to travel and do things,” Smalley said. “It got put on the back burner.”

According to data from PetPoint, a monthly estimate report of U.S. pet owner demand for dogs and cats available for adoption, there have been nationwide increases in cat and dog owner surrenders, owner returns to shelters and stray intakes, compared to June 2020.

The Washington Post reported in August 2020 that pet adoptions and sales “soared” during the pandemic; The Hill reported in May of this year that shelters across the country are seeing increased animal returns, following lifting COVID-19 restrictions.

Smalley thinks that the pandemic did influence people’s decisions to adopt and their decisions to return their pets.

“I think because everybody was home and time on their hands, they though, ‘it’s a great time, let’s adopt a puppy or dog.’” Smalley said. “Now restrictions are lifted — there are people out there, when they get a pet it’s not a forever thing — it’s when it’s convenient. We’re seeing a lot of dogs being given back to shelters or surrendered to rescues now that folks can get out, vacation and do things.”

Bownes said this was a concern the humane society had, too, though it’s fairing better than expected.

“We thought when school started people would decide that they didn’t have time for the animal but that hasn’t been the case for us,” Bownes said. “They’ve pretty well kept animals they’ve adopted during that time.”

Like Passionate Paws, the humane society uses fostering to a certain extent, Bownes said. There are no dogs in foster homes; however, kittens are a popular option.

“We have a lot of cats that are adoptable and have all been vetted and spayed and neutered,” Bownes said, adding that most kittens stay in their foster homes until they are ready for adoption.

The public, not only in Hocking County but in bordering counties, have been incredibly kind to the humane society through donations, Bownes said. The shelter is still accepting feed donations, a costly operating expense, she said.

More information on Passionate Paws and its rescue dogs can be found on its website at www.passionatepawsdogrescue.com/. More information on the Hocking County Humane Society can be found on its website at www.hockingcountyhumanesociety.com/.

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