Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized, according to the ASPCA, and for terminally sick dogs, shelters often can’t provide the level of care and attention these animals need. Fospice programs have expanded in recent years, with more and more volunteers working with shelters and rescue organizations to help provide loving homes for animals who would otherwise be euthanized. While this new type of fostering can be a bit more demanding — both logistically and emotionally — fospice volunteers provide an incredibly valuable service, explains Melissa Ottstadt, fospice coordinator at Foster Dogs NYC, an organization that helps rescues match foster dogs with foster homes.
“Fostering is a great way to keep dogs social, acclimated and happy, which in turn makes them easier to adopt. Fospice is similar, but we take on the tougher cases, where a dog's age or prognosis makes him or her even more difficult to adopt,” Ottstadt tells The Dodo. “Without the fospice care option, many elderly or terminally ill dogs may live out their remaining time in a shelter with little hope of adoption.”
While these animals may only have a few weeks or months left to live, having a chance to feel the love of a family makes all the difference — and they certainly return it in kind. This is what Jessica Miller found when she became the fospice parent of an elderly pit bull diagnosed with inoperable cancer named Grandma Dot.