Today we meet Karen Hill, who has been volunteering with Brooke’s Legacy Animal Rescue for nine years, fostering cats for them and occasionally dogs as well. The rescue, located in Naples, Florida, is foster-based and has no physical shelter.
I had a few quick questions for Karen and then she so graciously shared a special fostering story with us.
What surprised you the most about fostering?
I can’t say I was surprised but certainly have learned so much about cats and their behaviors. Also, I have learned a lot about illness and medical care.
What is the hardest part about fostering?
Letting them go, but then it makes room to save another life, so I can do it with joy.
How many of your own cats do you have?
Three – I do not mix my foster cats with my cats. Cats do not always get along well quickly and are territorial. I keep my fosters in a separate room, as to not upset the apple cart and keep everyone calm. My cats will know there are other animals in the house, but they are used to it now. One of my cats (Mr. Higgins) is very territorial.
What do you think most non-cat people would be surprised to learn about fostering?
When I started volunteering and fostering, it was of course because of my love for animals. But, really, we are also doing social work. When your foster is placed and it makes someone so happy to have that new family member, it comes full circle. People adopt for so many reasons, but when someone tells you they lost a husband or child and the pet fills them with happiness and helps with an emptiness in their life, or a child that has always wanted a pet…there are so many stories, but what I do brings happiness and we can all use more of that in this world. Our group also adopts to senior citizens and what joy we bring them!
What’s a fun fact about yourself?
I have a great sense of humor, which is needed when working with cats! Cats also have that humor gene – LOL!
When I asked Karen to share one of her favorite stories, this is what she shared.
A Fostering Story from Karen Hill
(In her own words)
Fostering cats (and sometimes I foster dogs) has been extremely satisfying. I have fostered for Brooke’s Legacy Animal Rescue for 9 years now and I can’t even explain the joy I have when my fosters find their forever family! I always cry, but it is tears of happiness.
My personal mission is to place these pets and make room for more. I do get somewhat attached, but I always look at the bigger picture. I have been at shelters to rescue and have seen the pets in the cages lined up outside the death row room. This keeps me very motivated to continue to foster, place, and then make room for more to be saved. Cats specifically do not have to be held for 5 days, like dogs do, for owners to look for them in some shelters. The cats can come in and go immediately to euthanasia. Every shelter is different, but in the long run, cats are euthanized at a much, much higher rate than dogs.
I have fostered many special needs cats too…blind, one-eyed, three-legged, etc. The bottom line is that these animals don’t know they are special needs. We always find placement for them and they are so loved. My favorite “special kitty” adoption was with a young boy who fell in love with one of my fosters “Blinky” who only had one eye. She was such a sweet little Russian Blue mix kitten. Just melted my heart! They sent a picture of him with her last Christmas that was so sweet.
Another one of my foster cats, who I became very attached to, was Panzy Priss. She was a petite tuxedo that I would take with me all the time to adoption events, etc. because she did really well in public, the car, liked other cats, dogs…just wonderful.
The rescue was asked to attend a cat show they were holding locally and said we could enter one of our available cats in the “Household Pet” category. My comment was…who knew? They recommended that a friendly outgoing cat personality would do best, obviously, so I naturally thought of Panzy.
I didn’t know that anyone can show their cat of any background in this category. Naturally, I assumed a cat show would only be purebred breeds! The cat show people are very rescue friendly too. (We actually placed 3 cats at this show). This was all new to us…running from ring to ring and trying to man our rescue booth! Long story short…after two days, 10 judges, etc. Panzy won “Best In Show” in the Household Pet category, at the Platinum Coast Cat Fanciers show on Sunday, July 24, 2011, held at the Araba Temple in Ft. Myers, Florida!
Several weeks after the show, I had her at one of our adoption events at Petco with some of her ribbons and a lovely couple adopted her. They simply love her, whether she won ribbons or not! I was so happy for all of them, but really missed her, as she was my foster for almost one year.