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News / Life / Pets & Wildlife

Students foster pets, volunteer at shelter

Sleepovers give dogs, cats welcome break from facility

By Liz Cruz, The Dallas Morning News
Published: May 10, 2024, 6:41am

DALLAS — Dallas Animal Services faces a persistent struggle: overflowing kennels. Despite hard efforts through fostering and adoption programs, the shelter has been at overcapacity since June 2023.

This overcrowding creates a tough situation for animals, one that Sarah Sheek, the assistant general manager of community engagement for the shelter, is working to solve.

With a high of 170 percent overcapacity for dogs just six months ago, the shelter has been able to mitigate that number to their current status of 118 percent through fostering, adoption and community outreach. The 170 percent represents 510 dogs in 300 kennels. Today’s 118 percent represents 354 dogs in 300 kennels.

Sheek said that the goal is to get animals out of the shelter, even if it is for a night. She said that many people in the D-FW are fortunate enough to have the time to take in a pet which helps DAS reach their goals.

“An animal would benefit from a sleepover, getting out for the night and getting a little bit of stress reduction,” Sheek said.

While there are many different types of fostering and adoption programs, DAS ensures that whoever is looking into their services finds the perfect match for their situation.

Sheek said that the shelter receives lots of support from college students. She added that SMU students are great about volunteering and fostering.

Sheek described the fostering and adopting processes as easy. People can walk in, pick their pet and leave the same day. If the animal needs to be spayed or neutered, they can pick their pet up the next day after surgery.

SMU Junior George Marcogliese followed this easy process.

“So I don’t think adoption works for my lifestyle, like long term, but I think this fostering experience is perfect because I’m learning a lot about responsibility,” Marcogliese said.

Macrogliese fostered Anni, a 12-week-old beagle mix, from DAS with the intention of keeping her for only a few weeks. Marcogliese was heartbroken over the thought of giving her away.

“There’s no way I can see myself bringing her back to the shelter. I just can’t do that,” Marcogliese said.

DAS hopes that people who foster can form a connection with their temporary companion so the animal gets adopted.

Marcogliese has gone to multiple community events to find Anni’s forever home. After a long search, Anni found her forever home at an adoption event hosted by Petco on April 13. A Petco employee is now Anni’s owner.

Like Marcogliese, many people who foster find it hard to say goodbye. Olivia Lind, a swimmer at SMU, fostered two pitbull/lab mix puppies, Cow and Dragon, from DAS knowing it would be a challenge.

Lind said that while fostering two puppies was a crazy experience, she understood that taking the puppies out of the shelter for a few weeks would be beneficial. She felt that socializing the puppies was an important part of their adoption process.

Both puppies were adopted within a week once Lind returned them to the shelter in March.

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Sheek encourages pet ownership as a way to enrich one’s life.

“We have a lot of pets in need in Dallas and we have lots of homes in Dallas that could take in pets, so we hope that people will consider adopting from Dallas Animal Services when they’re looking to add to their families,” Sheek said.