A KELOLAND animal shelter is springing into its busy season.
This is the time of year when the Sioux Falls Area Humane Society starts to seen an uptick in guests, which means there’s a higher demand for help.
Only you don’t have to write out a check or adopt an animal to do your part.
Ella holds a special place in Chris Burke’s heart.
“She just loves to be loved,” Foster parent Chris Burke said.
Ella came to Burke from the Sioux Falls Area Humane Society. Only, soon, she’ll be on her way back to the shelter.
“This will be my 26th foster. Mostly pregnant ones are what I like to foster,” Burke said.
Burke temporarily opens her home to the animals who need her care the most. Sometimes, they become permanent parts of the household.
“The white one out here is our very first foster I did,” Burke said.
In most cases, Burke takes in a mother who’s about to give birth to puppies and returns mother and pups to the shelter so they can be placed for adoption, once they’re ready for a a forever home.
“When it comes to be this time of year, we’re usually scrambling to try to find places for these animals to go because the shelter is not a great place for babies. They don’t have a lot of immunity from their parents,” SFAHS Kennel Manager LaVerne Aventi said.
Other incoming animals with unknown back stories could place the young ones at risk, so its best to keep the babies at bay for awhile.
“What they do by being a foster parent is they give that animal a better chance at life,” Aventi said.
The only problem is, the shelter needs more foster parents.
“Most of our pregnant animals are coming in in the spring when it starts getting warming and it never really ends. It can go from two cats to 15,20 pregnant cats in a day,” Aventi said.
Angie Wahl recognized the need and decided to start opening her home to cats a few years ago.
“We had the space available to do it, so we decided to give it a try,” Foster Parent Angie Wahl said.
That’s about all you need: a little space and a lot of love. The shelter provides the rest of the essentials, including litter, food, and blankets.
“You look at these babies and they just make you smile. It’s a constant rotation of fun. If you’ve ever been around kittens, they’re just play and crazy and excitement and you can’t not make your day with that,” Wahl said.
Still, it’s a difficult sell for the shelter.
Volk: “Is it hard to find foster parents?”
Aventi: “Yes. It is very hard to find foster parents. Like I said, the crew we have now is amazing; we have fantastic foster parents, but they can’t take everything,” Aventi said.
Right now, Aventi says the shelter has about 10-15 foster parents and she’d like to double that number.
“We always need more foster parents,” Aventi said.
“It’s not probably for everyone. Is it hard work? Yes. Anything that is worth something is hard work,” Wahl said.
For Wahl and Burke, though, the end result outweighs the workload.
“We love them and they get the attention they need and then they go to loving homes after that. They get adopted to their forever homes,” Burke said.
And soon Burke will make room in her heart for another dog who needs her.
While the mother may be returned to the shelter sooner, foster parents usually keep the babies for about 8-10 weeks.
If you want to help, you can fill out an application at the shelter or on its website.