On this Valentine’s Day I wanted to blog about someone with a big heart and it was easy for me to choose Andra D.
I can honestly say this young lady impresses me more every time I see her. Her dedication to the SPCA Foster Program is amazing…but she needs your help. If you have ever thought of fostering an animal, now is the time.
Information follows at the end of this post.
Where were you born?
I was actually not born in Montreal, but rather a small town in Romania. I came to Canada with my parents in 2003 when I was almost 17 years old.
Where do you live now and who lives with you? Humans and animals.
I live with my parents in Anjou . I share my space with Maya, our 7 year old cat who loves to chase after treats (exercise and pleasure combined!) and Momo, a 7 year old Tibetan terrier adopted at the SPCA 4 years ago when his family decided to have another child and didn’t have any time left for him.
When did you first realize you wanted to help/work with animals? How old were you?
This must go back to when I was a kid in Romania and I witnessed some blatant animal neglect and cruelty. Stray dogs living in packs on the streets, neighborhood kids throwing rocks at them for fun or otherwise using puppies and weaker dogs for cruel experiments are only mild examples…
My family always welcomed pets into our lives and taught me to treat them with love and respect, so I always tried to make a small difference for those that I was allowed to bring home (and there were many!) We managed to offer better lives to some of these animals, but we failed to do so for many others. There were many instances throughout my childhood and adolescent life when I could not be more sure that we weren’t treating our animals right, and that I wanted to make a difference.
What was your first job experience in working with/helping dogs and cats?
I found out about the SPCA a year after I came to Montreal, and I thought it was the best place in the world. I became a volunteer dog walker and I can’t tell you how much I loved being with the dogs and seeing how little it takes to make them happy. Like many of our present dog walkers, I often stayed over the regular 3-hour shift or came in several times a week despite bad weather or piled up homework 😛
Tell us how you got involved in the foster program, you seem to have found your calling!
Throughout the 3 years I’ve been a dog walker at the shelter, I thought about getting more involved and being able to both spend more time there and do more for the animals. In May 2008 the foster program as well as the rest of the SPCA was undergoing a major staff change and I decided to join the foster team.
We now have a better program with a solid team of employees and volunteers (responsibility is shared amongst all of us), but since I’ve been part of it for almost 3 years, I may give the impression of being in my element when I’m at work J
What are your responsibilities?
We make sure that all animals needing temporary foster care are under regular veterinary care (and treatment if needed), we feed and medicate sick cats, and generally work closely with the clinic and the kennel
Our main task is to place foster cats and dogs into temporary homes, and making sure that pet and human are a good match depending on the animal’s needs. We interact a lot with people who come in to take animals into foster care in order to get to know them better and feel confident that they will provide the animal with the care it needs.
We also provide support to foster homes by answering their questions or assisting them when they have problems with their foster pets. Last but not least, we follow up on our foster families to make sure that all animals come back to the shelter in good health or find adoptive homes. It often doesn’t end here though – the foster program is connected to every other department in the shelter, so our responsibilities cover a broad range of tasks.
What do you need from the public?
We are currently trying to spread the word about the foster program, and we are surprised to see how many people would be interested in helping out but simply do not know that we exist. So we mainly need the public to think about the SPCA when they decide to have a pet. Fostering is a great way to start if you are not sure if you are ready to have a pet, and it creates the special bond that comes from caring for a helpless animal and often saving its life.
We do ask that our potential foster homes be responsible and aware of the time and energy involved in caring for a sick animal, and for a pet in general.
And you go to school!! That’s dedication!
Yes I did, for the past 2 and a half years I’ve been a part time employee and a full time student, like many of our staff members. I graduated from McGill this December, so now I have more time to focus on work!
What are some of the things you have seen these past few months, stories good or bad?
We are generally disappointed to see how misinformed and irresponsible pet owners are. Most animals that arrive at the shelter are purchased on an impulse from pet shops, have health issues due to a lack of veterinary care and sometimes neglect (malnutrition or a wrong choice of food), and are rarely spayed or neutered.
Many of these animals are lucky enough to get a second chance and find caring families, but some are not able to live through the stress of being in a shelter.
A story comes to mind – one that has a sad beginning and a happy ending. This past Christmas Eve a cardboard box found its way to the SPCA reception desk, and inside it two 4 week-old beagle puppies were shivering. The box had been left outside by the garbage bins, discarded like unwanted goods. One of the puppies had a deep wound on her forehead that had barely missed her eye, and the other one seemed to have trouble using his back legs. Both puppies were otherwise healthy and so happy to be held by anyone.
They were quickly placed into one of our best foster homes and were kept under regular vet care. Our foster carefully selected loving homes for each of them, and today they are getting all the love and attention that someone had decided they did not deserve.
What would you like to tell Montrealer’s?
On behalf of the foster team, I would first like to thank everyone who has made a difference by fostering or adopting an animal from us, or in any other way helped make life better for homeless pets. I would also urge them all to get informed about pet care and ownership before they bring a furry creature into their lives, and ask them to please consider rescuing a shelter animal.
What do you see in your future regarding helping animals?
I most definitely would like to continue working with animals and people who love them as much as I do, and although I’m not yet sure what exactly that will involve, I can guarantee you that the SPCA and animals in need will always be a large part of who I am and why I do what I do.
TPK “In rescuing animals, I lost my mind, but found my soul.” ~anonymous
Can you help animals who need a temporary home to get through a very tough time?
The SPCA is looking for foster homes for certain animals that are not ready to be adopted.
Predominantly, we have cats with rhino (cat flu) and medium to large sized dogs with kennel cough (dog flu) needing foster care. Rhino is only contagious to other cats, particularly if the other cats are not vaccinated against it and/or have a compromised immune system. Kennel cough is only contagious to other dogs, particularly if the other dogs are not vaccinated against it. In either case, rhino and kennel cough are equivalent to a human flu. Symptoms may include sneezing, coughing, nasal secretions, and in certain cases loss of appetite and energy level.
We also have kittens and gestating cats to place into foster care. Puppies that are too young for adoption are at times available.
All foster families are given a starter food kit, and medical costs are also covered by the SPCA. We supply leashes, collars, dog tags, and cat carriers. The average foster commitment is one to two months, depending on the case.
The first step to becoming a foster family is to fill out our application questionnaire either at our offices (open from noon to 7pm on weekdays and 11am to 5pm on weekends) or via our site: http://www.spcamontreal.com/aidez3.php?lg=en.
Once you have sent or given us your application, we encourage you to visit our site (www.foyerdaccueil.blogspot.com) in order to see which animals are in need of a foster home. If an animal in particular interests you, please contact us to determine if the animal is still available and whether it is a suitable match for your situation.
5215 Jean-Talon West
(Near Namur Metro Station and Décarie Boulevard)