For those who want to help animals in need but can’t afford to donate to their local SPCA, there’s an alternative.
The Yarmouth branch needs foster homes for animals. These could be dogs that require leash training or socialization, or dogs and cats and kittens with special nurturing requirements.
Carol Denomme took over as branch manager in late November. She’s also the dog bylaw enforcement officer for the three municipal units in Yarmouth County.
She says there’s a “definite need” for foster homes, including kittens that come in abandoned and are too young to eat by themselves. They require bottle feedings and assistance with evacuation. There are also cats with medical/surgical issues that just need some quiet time.
“Some dogs are dealing with what we refer to as post traumatic stress,” she said.
These dogs don’t do well in a shelter environment.
“One month in a nice quiet home with someone spending some one-on-one time with them and they come around very quickly. They forget a lot of that stuff. Those cases are really good for foster homes,” said Denomme.
Sometimes the SPCA receives cats that behave like feral cats.
“But they’re not. They were in a home, and they got tossed out, so they’re pretty upset. They need time,” she said.
One of the biggest obstacles for those considering fostering is the thought of becoming attached and having to relinquish the animal back to the shelter or to adoption.
Spend 10 minutes with Anastasia Nimchuk and you’ll get over that.
She and her partner Dwaine Acker have fostered close to 300 cats, mostly orphaned kittens, over the past 12 years.
She says she began fostering after experiencing an incident as a veterinarian trainee.
“Someone had brought in some orphaned kittens that they found. They didn’t have the money to look after them, nor the time.
“I had to help the vet put them down. They were three weeks old and healthy. They just needed the physical care and I had to help the vet euthanize them. The next week I applied to pharmacy school,” she said.
She contacted a local animal shelter in Edmonton and told them she wanted to help but that she didn’t have money to donate.
Although fostering kittens required a certain skill set, she learned it,
“I needed to do this because of putting down those babies. That’s how it started and we haven’t stopped doing it,” she said.
Although she works full time, she and her partner are able to provide the required feedings at four-hour intervals.
She finds fostering tremendously rewarding.
“We still have people who adopted from us send Christmas cards and pictures. That’s really nice,” she said.
She says in the entire time they have been fostering, they have only kept two cats.
“Basically because if we keep them, we’re not going to be able to help any more. It’s more rewarding to do it and hear back from the people who have adopted from us than it is to accumulate our own animals,” she said.
“Once you realize that these are animals that would have died otherwise, that just wouldn’t have had a placement, that makes the hard part of giving them up worth it.
“When you know that they are going to a good home, to a family that’s going to love them for the next 15 years or more, then you think, okay, good. I’ll do it. Then I’ll do it again.”
Requirements for those who want to become a foster include having your own pets up-to-date on their vaccinations and free of disease. Ideally the foster animals should be in a quiet, separate room, especially if it’s a medical situation, to prevent them from playing with other animals.
“When you’re trying to get better, you like to have some quiet and peace and somebody that’s consistently taking care of you,” said Denomme.
Fostering time span requirements can range from a few days to one or two months. A follow up exam for each animal is also a requirement.
All costs are covered for fosters including litter, cat or dog food and medical costs.
The only thing fosters are responsible for is the cost of the fuel for transportation.
For more information visit the Yarmouth SPCA website: or call 902-742-9767.