The Scratching Post is a weekly newsletter from pets columnist Kate Karp, bringing you all the latest news on pet adoptions, animal welfare and ways to get involved.

Porkchop poses happily with his foster, Emiliano (right), who’s delighted that his buddy has graduated to a forever family (left). Photo courtesy of Long Beach Animal Care Services.

Long Beach Animal Care Services has conducted its Foster the Fourth program nearly every year to try and make room for the animals who flee in terror at stupid-season explosions and, if they’re lucky, wind up in the overflowing shelter.

Fostering is an effective way to deal with the crisis of shelter overflow, particularly if the objective is not to euthanize a healthy, adoptable animal for kennel space. I’ve been karping about fostering for weeks and decided to write a targeted newsletter for people who care about our pets—that’s you.

Maybe you’d like to try your paw at fostering. I asked Diana Bell, dog foster coordinator at LBACS, and Tabare Depaep, the foster coordinator, what they look for in a successful foster. Rather than doing either of them the injustice of cramming info about both into a single newsletter, we’ll do Bell and the barkers this week and Tabare and the tabbies next week.

Bell came to LBACS as a volunteer in summer 2022 and, with the help of foster Nici Daniels and the volunteer team, cleared 45 kennels during last year’s Foster the Fourth. She also compiled a comprehensive informational manual describing the responsibilities of fosters—it’s a must-read if you’re considering sharing your life for a couple of weeks with a grateful doggie.

 During this year’s Foster the Fourth, people interested in fostering were invited to come in and meet the dogs, particularly the seniors, dogs recovering from injury or illness, and longtime residents in jeopardy of euthanasia. The potential adopters met the foster team and learned what fostering entails, and the team screened a few potential fosters.

Screening is important, because fostering a pet isn’t like borrowing a library book for a couple of hours and returning it a couple of weeks later.

“I stress that fostering is a highly rewarding experience, but it’s not without its challenges,” Bell said. “Fostering a dog straight from a highly stressful environment is a project—I don’t want anyone to enter into it lightly.”

Besides creating kennel space, Bell said that fostering helps give stressed dogs a break and adds to their chances of adoption.

 “Well-balanced and well-adjusted dogs are the ones that adopters gravitate towards,” Bell said. “The ultimate goal of the program is to help the dogs who have been languishing in the kennel, often aloof or stressed, get back to being happy, hopeful and comfortable in their own skin. If we can show the public who these dogs are, we’ve increased their chances of finding a home they can call their own.”

Bell said that her job is to impart best practices for helping the dogs decompress and comfortably transition into a home. Many shelter dogs have never been in a safe environment, and even with a loving volunteer team, kennel confinement with barking on all sides is no help.

After completing the initial application, the applicant receives an email from Bell that reiterates much of what can be learned on the shelter’s foster page. If the potential foster responds that they’re interested, Bell sets up a phone call. During the call, Bell notes the applicant’s experience, what kind of dog they’re comfortable with, the home environment and their work schedule.

“As a result of that phone call, sometimes people opt out if they’re not feeling up to the task at hand, and that’s okay too,” Bell said. “There’s nothing I appreciate more than a person who knows their limitations.”

Many, however, are enthused. Then, the match-up meet-and-greets can begin, and finally, the lucky pooch and people go home with a ton of supplies, toys included, and the fostering has begun.

During every step of the fostering period, Bell is there to support the humans as well as the dogs.

“I never want my fosters to feel like they’re in this endeavor alone,” Bell said. “I want to set them up for success so they come back to help us again and again. We can’t do what we do without our fosters.”

 As of this writing, I counted 130 dogs in our shelter’s care. Some are lucky enough to be with fosters; others have been waiting there for what seems like forever. Maybe they’re waiting for you.

If you feel equipped and eager to foster a dog (or a cat, of course), fill out the application. To help support shelter programs and the animals who live there, donate here.

Pets available for adoption and foster

Some recommendations from dog-foster coordinator Diana Bell—not an exhaustive list by any means! Check out more pets at Long Beach Animal Care Services, 7700 E. Spring St. (at entrance to El Dorado Park—no parking fees for shelter visitors). To hurry up the adoption or foster process, email [email protected].

Valerie (ID#A696834) came to LBACS in April and has already won the hearts of the volunteers. She’s a lovely 4-year-old pittie who needs to be in someone’s loving home once again.

Stick a toy in Luca’s (ID#A677511) mouth, and he’ll be, as volunteer Dee puts it, the best boy ever. This 2-year-old pittie is actually the best boy ever, and all the volunteers hope that someone will love him as much as they do. He so deserves a break, and don’t they all.

Venus (ID#A694824) is a 3-year-old Siberian husky who’ll absolutely disarm you (heh) with her charm, her begs for tummy rubs, and her goofy expression. One volunteer said that Venus is the reason she comes to the shelter every day, but don’t let that stop you from fostering her. There are other dogs. To foster or adopt Venus, knowledge about this breed is essential.

Pet events

Second annual Independence Pets and Vets Parade: Saturday, July 1, 10 a.m. to noon, Lincoln Park, 101 Pacific Ave. Free. Join Councilmember Mary Zendejas for this fun event that honors service providers. Zendejas will honor five honorees and their dogs for their service to the community—police, fire department workers and military veterans who continually give back to their community and put service above all. Bring your dog for a fun walk at no cost. Dogs must have current vaccinations and be leashed at all times; owners must be with their pet at all times, and of course, they must clean up after them.

Second annual Long Beach Summer Adoption and Craft Fair: Saturday, July 22, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Marina Green Park, 386 E. Shoreline Drive, Long Beach. Free. Adoption fees apply. Practically every rescue within the reach of Long Beach will be at this great event, so if you’re looking for your best friend forever and ever, you have no excuse to not shop but adopt. Of course, you’ll want to shop at the vendor booths. Stay tuned for more info.

Cat Lady Drag Bingo: Saturday July 22, 6-9 p.m., Ficklewood Ciderworks, 720 E. Broadway, Long Beach, $20 admission. What could be more deliciously outrageous than combining cat ladies (and gents) with drag queens? Join The Little Lion Foundation for an evening of screaming out letters and numbers and screaming in general during bingo. Fabulous drag host Meow—er, Mia Anastasia Farrow will call out the numbers and will keep the energy high all night long. Make sure to arrive early to secure your spot and get your game cards. There will be oodles of prizes for the winners! All money from ticket sales will support local cat rescue and animal welfare.

To see a list of local animal rescue groups, click here.