When Elizabeth Shaeffer wanted her family to get involved with the Naperville Area Humane Society, she got a little more than she expected. The Schaffers are currently taking care of a homeless dog and her nine four-week old puppies, as a part of the Humane Society’s Fostering Program.
“Hearing about all my older son’s adventures at the Humane Society, my younger son was really getting jealous,” said Shaeffer. “He, unfortunately, is not old enough to volunteer at the Humane Society yet. When the opportunity came for us bring Lily and her nine puppies into our house, it was a great opportunity for everyone to be involved.
“We’ve had a foster program for a number of years,” said Angie Wood, the Executive Director of the Naperville Area Humane Society. “But, really as we started to think strategically. We knew we really needed to expand our foster program and try to help more animals through fostering.”
The Foster Program allows animals from the Humane Society to temporarily live with a volunteer family, like the Shaeffers, to prepare them for a new life in a new home. To get involved, you must be a volunteer at the shelter and go through special training.
“Long term we are really looking at this as a way to help us, help more animals,” explained Wood. “It’s about placing more animals in more homes helping save more lives. Fostering is a great way for folks to get engaged and help homeless animals.”
The program was created to help homeless animals on an individual basis. Many dogs, including the nine puppies, need help getting used to living in a home environment before they can be adopted.
“The best opportunity for these dogs is really to have a lot of different interactions with people of all ages,” said Sheaffer. “We have from four year olds to grandparents coming over to help us socialize.”
Elizabeth’s sons, Jacob and Kyle, have taken on new responsibilities with the puppies. The boys read to the dogs, play their instruments for them, and help prepare them for their new forever family.
“We need to teach them what to do and what not to do in early age,” said Jacob Shaeffer, age 11. “Because if we do it right away once they get to their forever home, they will have less and less problems.”
This past June, the Sheaffer’s 13-year-old dog passed away, which they had adopted through another foster program. These puppies are now filling a void for them. They named one of the foster puppies after him. That dog’s name was Brinkley.
“Really the timing was perfect for us,” said Elizabeth. “We were really missing our dogs and the boys were really wanting to look at other opportunities to bring dogs into our home that we could help.”
Taking care of nine puppies is also preparing the Shaeffer kids for bigger responsibilities in the future.
“I feel like I’m already having kids,” said Kyle Shaeffer, age eight. “Because they pull on you and they do the same thing with their teeth and they like to play around.” “They’re messy like little kids and I look around all that and I think they are wonderful.”
The Shaeffers wouldn’t say if they planned on keeping any of the dogs, but they have offered to continue fostering the puppies and their mom until they find a permanent home.
The Naperville area humane society is also currently holding their “Barktoberfest” event in honor of Adopt A Shelter Dog Month. During the month of October, adoption fees for all dogs are reduced by $100.
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