While the Richardson Animal Shelter contains space for 86 individual animals (and more when kittens and puppies share space together), its care extends far beyond that number on any given day thanks to a network of dedicated foster volunteers. The volunteers care for newborn, sick and/or injured animals in their own homes until the animals are “adoptable” and ready to live at the Shelter.

“It’s been a great family activity, and a great way to teach our children the responsibility of pet ownership,” said Quinlan Bristow, who’s been fostering animals for the Shelter for about 12 years. “It’s a zoo at our house, but we love it.”

Bristow, her husband and two children have a dog and two cats of their own and prefer caring for groups of orphaned kittens year-round, enjoying a repeating process that sometimes begins with round-the-clock bottle-feedings and ends with socialized, 2-pound healthy kittens.

“When we drop off a set of kittens at the Shelter, we pick another up,” said Bristow.

Other foster volunteers who travel a lot or have other commitments may take in animals just a couple times a year. Volunteers receive periodic e-mails from the Shelter that give detailed descriptions of animals needing foster homes, and the program allows them the flexibility to respond only to those they feel will fit with their household and schedule.

“No matter how many times someone can foster, we appreciate every minute,” said Shelter Supervisor of Events and Special Projects Noura Jammal, who coordinates fostering.

Jammal said the program can always use more volunteers, because not all are available when the Shelter starts filling up, especially in the summer, when shelters nationwide see a surge of abandoned pets due to spring births and summer relocations.

Bristow, a native of Richardson, said that even though she now lives in Frisco, she participates in the Richardson foster program because “it’s so well run.”

“The Shelter staff really care about animals,” she said. “It’s not just a job for them. And they support the volunteers…that’s why I drive so far to do this, and have sent many people there to foster.”

To learn more about fostering, visit www.cor.net/animalservices or call 972-744-4480.