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PAWS needs foster parents

By Staff | Jun 21, 2010

Rose Dakos lavishes affection and attention with her canine ward Fred. Dakos is providing foster care for Fred while he awaits a permanent home. She is volunteering for PAWS, a non-profit animal care organization on Sanibel. PAWS needs more foster parents to help care for homeless island pets.

Fred is an easy going kind of dog. He loves the usual dog things eating, romping around and nuzzling up to a warm human friend. And up to recently Fred, a six-year-old mini bearded collie had these things. But somehow life difficulties on the part of his owner translated to him losing his home and the things he loves to do.

But while Fred awaits a new place to call home, the shaggy, big-personality pooch is not forced to wait in a locked cage at a shelter. He is staying with his PAWS foster mom Rose Dakos.

Dakos is part of a small but vital army of island foster parents who care for homeless pets until suitable homes are found. Folks like Dakos make up the life blood of PAWS, a nearly 20-year-old organization.

PAWS is often the first line of defense when an animal becomes homeless or is found as a stray by the Sanibel Police, said Diane Barr, a volunteer with PAWS.

Over the years, sick, injured and just plain down on their luck pets have found hope and homes through the work of PAWS.

Most recently the organization has been working to find a home for two sister cats Stormy and Charlie who became homeless after their owner Teresa Fluhr died of cancer. The fluffy, grey felines are known for being affectionate and almost dog-like in their friendly and cuddly demeanor, Barr said.

If not for PAWS foster parents, the two cats would have faced being separated and an uncertain fate. The two cats are still in need of a permanent home.

But the PAWS organization which is essentially run by under five women will not be able to go on if more foster parents do not volunteer, Barr said.

Right now during the summer there are only about two steady foster homes available.

“We would like to have a whole list at the ready,” Barr said.

Because of the lack of foster parents, Barr has had to call on co-workers and friends to help keep homeless pets.

Aside from the immeasurable help given to homeless pets, fostering can be good for one’s soul.

“It opens up a whole new world to you,” Dakos said as she nuzzled Fred’s shaggy neck. “I think it’s a positive experience.”

Dakos chatters about Fred’s quirks and how he greets her at the door when she gets home from work.

“I really enjoy getting to know Fred,” she said. “Fred’s a very sweet dog.”

And perhaps the fact that most inspires Dakos is that she can give a dog that lost his home and way of life a chance.

“You feel like you’re helping someone who couldn’t help themselves,” she said.

PAWS foster parents do not have to shoulder any expenses or medical care. They just need to be able to provide a safe, loving and temporary home for homeless pets until a permanent home is found.

Anyone interested in fostering homeless island pets or donating to the private non-profit pet care organization, can call Pam Sullivan, the PAWS president at 472-4823. Donations can be made to: PAWS PO Box 855 Sanibel, Fl 33957.