Fur~Baby Boutique, Daycare & Spa in Milford provides grooming and takes in foster dogs to help get them ready for adoption for the animal shelter Paws of Tomorrow. We spoke with owner and “Pack Leader” Sherry Shupe about her and her business’ efforts to help animals in need.
DT: What made you decide to help foster dogs?
A: Helping dogs is how we got started. I was a volunteer before I had a store. I started out with Paws of Tomorrow about six years ago and I enjoyed it so much that I started going to every event and helped with organizing. I needed to find a way to do this for my job, so now five years later, I have a store, and we encourage people to adopt and foster with local shelters and make sure they aren’t getting their pets from puppy mills or bad breeders. We also offer spay-neuter clinics.
DT: What is it like working with foster pets? Do you get attached to them?
A: Of course. I cry every time they leave. But it’s a great feeling. You’re doing something wonderful and you’re opening up another space in a shelter to help as many animals
as you can. I always say I have three dogs and a rotating fourth!
DT: What are some of the things you do to help these foster animals while they’re in your care?
A: It’s just like owning a dog of your own. Whether you’re nursing them back to health mentally or physically, it really depends on the situation. You can do anything from helping a puppy learn basic training to just offering an adult dog a couch to lay on and making sure they’re well-balanced. Fur~Baby also offers free grooming and services to rescue animals to help get them adoption ready.
DT: What is it like working with Paws of Tomorrow?
A: The fact that they rely on their fosters makes it a little bit more rewarding to foster. We try to encourage fostering a lot because Paws of Tomorrow isn’t getting the state funding or most of the donations, so when we help out there we’re able to help them out in a pretty meaningful way.
DT: Do you own any rescue dogs yourself?
A: All three of my dogs are rescued from places we’ve partnered with. We partner with shelters all over the area, and my three dogs have come from three different rescues. Alfie is from Paws of Tomorrow and was one of my fosters that I ended up adopting. I also have a lab that I fostered three and a half years ago that I couldn’t let go. Then while I was grooming a foster puppy a few weeks ago I fell in love and ended up adopting it. We also have one rescue cat found abandoned on the side of the road.
DT: What is fostering an animal actually like? What does it involve?
A: It’s like any time you were to get a new dog. You learn about them and their individuality and you bond. And there are definitely challenges and ups and downs. It’s just like owning a pet, only you know that it’s temporary. It’s always hard to let them go but you know they’re going to a good place and you’ve started them out for success in adoption. You also open up space to take in another foster, so it’s pretty bittersweet and it’s easier than actually owning a dog; it gives you a chance to get to know different breeds and the rescue shelter always takes on the financial responsibility, which is nice. And if you find you absolutely can’t let go of the foster you can always adopt him or her.
DT: Would you recommend fostering pets to others?
A: I would recommend fostering to everyone and anyone, whether you’ve never had a pet before and you are thinking about it, or if you have space in your home, or even if you just want to help out. Fostering is one of the best things for the animals before adoption.
You’re taking a walk through your neighborhood when you spot a lone dog sniffing around. You’re driving home from work when you see a cat limping down the road. What do you do?
First things first: Call the authorities. You can call animal control or you can call the Delaware Animal Services Hotline at 255-4646. In emergencies or if your local shelters aren’t open, you can call the police. If you’re in the City of Wilmington, call 654-5151. For Newark, call the Newark Police at 366-7111 and for Dover, call the Dover Police at 736-7111.
If you decide to approach the animal, do so with caution. To decrease the risk of having it run away or harm you, move toward it slowly, speaking in a low and calm voice. If you see the animal has a collar and tags, try to check the tags for the owner’s name and number. If they are available, call the owner directly.
If you take the animal home, notify local shelters—the owner may be calling in search of his pet. When you get home, take a few pictures of the animal, make bright flyers, and check or even post those pictures on www.petfinder.org, where pet owners can post pictures and look for their pets.