“Within the heart of every stray lies the singular desire to be loved”--unknown
The desire to create Sheltered Paws Dog Rescue began in the late 90's. Christina Hamberg was volunteering with the spca Cincinnati, then located only on Colerain Avenue. Week after week, month after month, and sometimes longer, Christina interacted with the same dogs. She saw the time change their spirit. Her heart went out to these dogs in particular. Christina reached out to friends, co-workers, and any animal lover she could find for foster care placement.
“Many dogs become really depressed after being at the shelter and being passed by time and time again and start to refuse food, become lethargic or begin to act out in frustration. Consequently, their chances of adoption diminish even further. Being placed in a foster home with lots of love, attention, and training, gives these dogs a new lease on life and better chance of finding their forever homes”, says Hamberg.
“We are very fortunate to work with a great organization like the spca cincinnati. Working together, we can save even more lives,” Hamberg adds. Christina discovered that there were more opportunities to help other dogs at the shelter. Like moms with their new litters because shelters are no place for babies! Additionally, dogs with injuries or medical issues that need to be addressed before they can be adopted. While the spca can tend to some basic medical needs and alteration surgeries, they do not have the budget, nor staffing to handle more extensive or time consuming injuries. Sheltered Paws works to help supplement all the efforts of the spca to save as many lives as possible.
Thank you for your willingness to help a shelter dog that needs you. The experience will be both challenging and rewarding at the same time. For sure, it will change your life and be an experience that you will never forget. Hopefully, the following information will be helpful to you. Never think that a question is too silly to ask. The more support we give to each other, the better we are able to help the dogs.
Before you bring your foster dog home
•Make sure your family and your house are ready for a new foster dog. We ask that you commit to be a foster home for the dog until a forever home is found, unless unusual circumstances occur. Each situation is different. Puppies are usually adopted quickly, older dogs may take several months to find the right home. Your effort makes a big difference.
•Have potential foster dog meet your family dogs/cats on neutral ground, not in your home or yard. A walk in a neighborhood or park is a great activity to meet someone new.
•Gather needed supplies: crate, super yard, leash/collar, id, food, etc. If the shelter has any extra items, they will usually give them to you. Christina and Jennifer both have items to use as well. Please make sure to have an id tag for your foster. If the dog gets away from you, an id tag will be the easiest way to know that he/she belongs to you. We will help supply needed items for your foster, extras are your choice to purchase, but may not be reimbursed. Any additional items must be pre-approved by Christina or Jennifer and a receipt must be submitted before reimbursed.
•When you pick up from the spca, please fill out Foster Care Form and make sure to get the dogs id#and kennel record sheet with info about your new foster. Please ask if the dog has a goody bag, many items you will need are inside. All shelter dogs receive Bordatella and Distemper shots, are tested for heartworms, given a general dewormer, and microchipped. The exceptions would be for a pregnant, too young, or too ill dog. Dogs do not receive a Rabies shot, nor any heartworm prevention.
•Everyone will need time to get used to the new arrangement. Please give your existing pets the confidence that things will remain the same, that they still have their own space and things. Let the new pet learn his/her place in the family and learn from the other pets. You will want to feed pets, monitor toys and play times closely, and have them sleep separately until they get a chance to feel comfortable around each other.
•We highly recommend an obedience training class for your new foster. There is a class at the spca cincinnati Sharonville location, or you may select your own class. Please contact Christina or Jennifer to make arrangements for payment.
•Any financial assistance in the care of your foster that you can offer is greatly appreciated.
Veterinary Care for your foster dog
•Remember, dogs are given the Bordatella and Distemper shots, are tested for heartworms, given a general dewormer before they live the spca. They do not need to be re-vaccinated. They will need a fecal sample tested at either the Sharonville spca location or one of our participating vets. A fresh stool sample should be dropped off and tested soon after you get your foster dog home.
•If you think your foster pet needs to see a veterinarian for any reason, please call Christina or Jennifer first. Please be conscious of timing, do not wait until after hours or the weekend to decide your foster dog needs veterinary attention. In the case of an emergency, and you are needing to seek emergency care, contact either Christina or Jennifer immediately for information about the veterinarian we would use.
•There are several options to consider.
◦We may be able to arrange for the spca to help with vet care. Do not contact them directly, call Christina or Jennifer and we will help with scheduling.
◦We have many vets that offer discounts to us and will allow billing to the rescue rather than you paying for the services. Please refer to the Contact List below for names and numbers and when you call, please identify yourself as a foster for Sheltered Paws. These vets give us a discount as a courtesy for the spca dogs, please do not take advantage of this offering.
◦If you desire to take your foster to your vet, you may. We will reimburse up to 60% of your expenses with a receipt. If you are interested in seeing if your vet would be willing to help our group, that would be awesome! Please let Christina or Jennifer know. We can help make arrangements.
•In the event that you do have to pay for vet services that are reimbursable, please submit your receipt and we will send a check out immediately. Financial assistance is available as long as the dog is a part of the foster program. After the adoption is finalized, Sheltered Paws will no longer be able to cover veterinary expenses.
Marketing your foster dog
•You play a huge part in how quickly your foster finds his/her “forever home”. The more exposure your foster gets in all types of media; as well as good old fashioned leg work, the better chance your foster has of finding his/her forever home.
•Kathie Fuller maintains our listing on Petfinder. As soon as you are able, please email several digital photos (of a DPI of at least 180 or higher) and a bio describing your dog to potential adopters. Send bio and pictures together and include the dogs name and spca id number in the subject line of the email,so Kathie knows not to delete the email. Please do not send info from your phone. People love pictures, especially ones that focus on the dog. Pay attention to what is in the background. Try to keep as simple and nondescript as possible. The quicker you get your dog in front of potential adopters, the sooner you may be able to find a home for him/her. We recommend posting the individual puppies at about 5 and ½ weeks of age with information about when they will be available for adoption and the mom as soon as possible. Other foster dogs should be posted as soon as you can get the info together.
•Please make sure Kathie has your correct email address, one that you check frequently. It will be listed as the main contact for asking more questions about your foster dog. For help with creating your fosters bio, you can look at other listing on the website. Suggestions of info to include are: breed, sex, age, weight, are they good with other dogs-kids-cats, walk well on a lead, know any commands or tricks, like to play any particular games, like any particular toys, have a favorite spot in your house, anything that creates personality for the dog. It is also helpful to keep the info current; take new pictures frequently and add new info to the bio.
•Use the website to communicate with other fosters. Find out about best practices, stuff you may need, stuff you may want to donate, training tips, or just support.
•We have also created a template/example of a flyer you can create for your dog. This flyer can be distributed at any location that you request permission to post. Please contact Jennifer for a copy.
•We also participate with the spca and their mobile adoption unit events. This is a great opportunity to get your foster dog out in front of potential adopters. There are some guidelines that we must follow to be allowed to participate with the spca. And if you have someone interested in adopting, they will still have to work through the adoption process. Please contact Jennifer for a copy before you anticipate attending the mobile events.
Adopting your foster dog
•The process begins with a potential adopter becomes interested in your foster dog. They see the dog online, they meet you out and about, etc. The first step is to fill out a Sheltered Paws application.
Application can be found on our website, www.shelteredpaws.com. It should be completed as honestly and completely as possible. Please advise potential adopters that completing an application does not guarantee them the dog. Additionally, that many others may be interested in the same dog and are working through the process at the same time that they are. Traci, our application reviewer, will take a look at their application and make an initial determination of whether or not to proceed with the process.
•After reviewing the application, Traci will contact you via email. She will give you any initial feedback about the application that she sees and attach the application itself. If she is concerned about the application, she will ask your opinion and consult with you as to whether or not to proceed with the process. If the application looks positive, she will reply to the potential adopter advising them that you, the foster family, will be contacting them about setting up a “meet and greet” visit. Again, at this step a positive application does not guarantee adoption.
•The next step is to schedule a “meet and greet” visit. This is your opportunity to find out more about the potential adopter, their family and home life, see how they interact with the dog, and how the dog interacts with them. Ask questions. As the foster parent, YOU have the final say in who adopts your foster dog. It is important to give everyone a chance to experience pet ownership, but trust your gut. If something doesn't feel right, it often times is not. Be very honest about what you have experienced with your foster dog. Portray challenges in a positive way, but never lie or leave out important characteristics about the dog. Remember you are trying to find the right “forever” home. Finding out if the potential adopter would be a good fit for your foster, and vice versa will help ensure that the fit is right. You can always call Christina or Jennifer to get another opinion about the situation.
◦If the potential applicant has children or other dogs, we STRONGLY recommend that everyone be introduced. The canine introductions should be done on neutral territory for both dogs. Taking them for a walk together in the park is a great idea. Of course this won't be a guarantee that everyone will get along, but it can identify major problems quickly.
•You may have several people interested in the same dog at the same time. We do work in a first come, first serve basis. Please try to offer as many potential adopters the opportunity to attend a “meet and greet” with your foster dog as possible if there are several at one time. Remember, each situation is different. The first person you meet may be great, but the second person could be even better. As well, you may think you have the perfect home, and then find out the potential adopter has to move, found another dog, etc. Keep your options open, but be very up front with the potential adopters as well about the process.
•When you have found the right adoptive family, ask them to formalize the adoption. They can go to either spca cincinnati location to fill out the adoption paperwork. They should take with them the dog's spca ID number. They will fill out paperwork at the spca, pay the adoption fee and receive additional information about the dog. You then will schedule a pick up or drop off time. The adoption is done. We do need to communicate with the family/families that were not selected. If you are not comfortable doing that, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
•After the adoption is finalized, please email email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org to advise of the new home for the foster.
•Keeping in contact with the new family is a good idea. If any problems come up, they may be more willing to call and ask questions of you. We want to prevent the dog being returned if at all possible. Sheltered Paws may be willing to help pay for training if needed. If you don't feel comfortable answering those questions, get either Christina or Jennifer involved. Remind the adopter, in the application that they signed, they agreed to call Sheltered Paws to return the dog, not take it to theshelter.
Your relationship with your foster dog
•Dogs need to feel secure to be truly happy. They need to know you are the leader and in charge. This does not mean that you have to show aggressive or forceful dominance, but calm assertive leadership. There should be reasonable boundaries with consistent discipline, lots of exercise and of course love.You should be making the decisions for the dog. Remember problems occur when a new dog is in a new environment and having to make decisions on its own.
•Dogs live in the moment. They remember yesterday, but don't dwell in it—you shouldn't either. Many of the dogs in our program have had a rough start in life, but you are their new start. They may have had issues with other dogs, kids, men, etc. Start fresh today and make a good life for them everyday. Show them with help and through positive experiences that life can be great. Additionally, they don't worry about tomorrow. Their thoughts and actions are just in the moment. They begin to experience anxiety when they feel it coming from us. Animals feel the energy we give off and respond to it.
•Dogs respond to routine. They want to know what is expected and what to expect. Figure out what your schedule with your foster dog will look like and do it as consistently as possible. Of course life is full of changes, but as much routine as possible is best.
•Teach your dog that you “own the cookie jar”. Hand feeding your foster dog at least twice a day at first will teach the dog where food comes from. You also want to set up a “reward history”. Reward positive behaviors as often as you see them with treats but also with attention and love. Teach the dog by rewarding the behaviors you want to see, and try to ignore the ones that you don't. Be consistent.
•Dogs need exercise and something to do to occupy their time. Walks multiple times a day, visits to the dog park, doggie daycare, participating in a training class, and teaching them tricks are all great activities. Toys such as kongs, food puzzles, bones, etc. are good ways for dogs to work to get a reward. Engaging their mind is exercise to. If you give them things to focus on, they are less likely to find things on their own.
•Remember dogs don't speak English. They do recognize repetitive sounds, and the meaning they associate with that sound from you. But reasoning with the animal is probably not going to work. Use simple sounds for commands and be consistent.
•Using a crate is not required, but can be a useful tool for you and a safe haven for your foster dog. We don't recommend that you allow your new foster dog to have access to the entire house immediately. Take it a room at a time. When you are not at home, confine the dog to an area that they can't get in trouble. A crate is a perfect option. If your foster dog is not used to a crate, associate positive experiences to it. Treats to go inside, affection to go inside. They may cry some at first, but ignore the behavior and they will usually then stop. For more information on crate training, visit the following link: http://www.training-dogs.com/crate-training.html.
•When it comes to potty training there are many schools of thought. In general, going out often at first with positive rewards right when pottying is finished and keeping with a routine. There will be accidents, be patient. Catching them in the act is the best time to reprimand, not after the fact. Clean up the mess as quickly and quietly as possible, ignoring the dog during the process. Sometimes changing diet and meal times makes a difference. There are many resources online for help. Just one example is: http://www.training-dogs.com/potty-training-dogs.html. Please contact Christina or Jennifer for more help.
•Introducing your new foster to your other dogs. We suggest that dogs meet on neutral territory and after both have been on a walk or have exerted some energy. Having each on a leash gives you more control. But make sure the energy you are giving off is calm assertive and positive. The dog will feel through the leash if you are nervous. Allow dogs to sniff each other for several seconds while watching body posture. Take them on a walk together. Once back home, allow each dog their own space including toys, eating space, etc. Your dog is the best teacher for your foster dog in how your house runs. Allow time for everyone to get used to each other. It can take many weeks. The same process can be used when meeting other dogs as well.
•There can be a “honeymoon period”. At first dogs tend to be “inhibited” to do certain things and keep on their best behavior while they are still unsure of things. After they become comfortable, they will test the rules, just like kids. Don't allow undesirable behavior. Correct immediately. Reward behavior you want, ignore/correct the behavior you don't want.
•If you have any questions about fostering a pregnant mom and her babies, call Christina.
•For any other issues, or any questions in general, contact Christina or Jennifer. We can offer any additional advice and/or put you in contact with a behaviorist/trainer to help.
Sheltered Paws Dog Rescue Contact Information
Christina Hamberg Co-Director
Home 513-755-7778 (Texting is best)
Jennifer Schneider Co-Director
Kathie Fuller Pet Listing
Traci Staubach Adoption Applications
Appletree Pet Clinic, Dr. Applebaum
4323 East Galbraith Road
Cincinnati, OH 45236
Cherry Grove Animal Hospital
8407 Beechmont Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45255
Mason Family Pet Hospital
770 Reading Road, Ste B
Mason, OH 45040
Harrison Animal Hospital
102 May Drive
Harrison, OH 45030
Animal Care Center Blue Ash
10607 Techwoods Circle
Blue Ash, OH 45242
Animal Care Center Fairfield
4005 Acme Drive
Fairfield, OH 45014
Animal Care Center Forest Park
11440 Winton Road
Cincinnati, OH 45240
Miamitown Pet Hospital
5990 OH-128 #1
Cleves, OH 45002
Noah's Ark Animal Clinic--Emergencies Only
6340 Colerain Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45239