Why One CARE Volunteer Fosters Pups in Need

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Carly Hemminger shares about opening her home to puppies and how you can get involved

Realtor Carly Hemminger, a CARE volunteer, and her dogs – Ella, Almond and Willow.

By Carly Hemminger | Photo by CC Kallam

Fostering animals was always something I wanted to do. As a kid, I enjoyed spending time on my grandmother’s farm, admiring her as she led an initiative to fund and build a shelter for homeless animals in her community. I looked forward to helping with the animals, and the desire to foster came naturally. I loved the idea of opening my home and heart to an animal in need. Fostering was just a matter of being in the right place in my life to do so.

I joined Chatham Animal Rescue & Education (CARE) as a foster shortly after moving to Chatham County in 2019. My experience with the nonprofit has been incredible. CARE is committed to improving animal welfare, and the organization goes above and beyond to achieve its mission. I’m constantly in awe of the volunteers’ dedication, providing necessary resources, support and mentorship to enable individuals and families to be successful. The volunteers are generous, skillful and passionate. CARE welcomes volunteers who can’t foster to assist at events, socialize the animals or provide other necessary functions, like transportation. And donations are always welcome – every bit goes a long way. As a Realtor with Triangle Real Estate Services, I proudly donate 10% of my commission to CARE.

The best part about working with a rescue like CARE is that you decide what works for you. I focus on puppies, while others take in senior or small breed dogs. Everyone asks, “Isn’t it hard to say goodbye?” Yes, goodbyes are tough. However, fostering is tremendously gratifying. There’s a saying – “If you love something, let it go.” I think this captures the essence of fostering.

I have the privilege of playing an important role in puppies’ lives. I take them in, nurse them to health, show them affection, tend to their needs, transport them to a partner veterinarian for spay or neuter, ensure they receive their vaccinations, screen potential adopters and match them with their forever family. The process can feel exhausting at times, but it’s worth it to find each and every animal a great home. I can rest easy knowing the puppy is going to an amazing family. Instead of saying “goodbye,” I say, “see you later!” Nearly all of my foster puppies have returned for a puppy reunion or a visit since they went to their forever homes. I’ve stayed in touch with many of the adopters, and many have become friends. It brightens my day every time I receive a picture or an update of a foster puppy going on an adventure, getting spoiled with love and living their life to the fullest. 

I strongly urge anyone with a passion for animal welfare to volunteer for an organization like CARE. The nonprofit invests a great deal of time and resources into preparing and training its fosters. It’s what makes CARE so remarkable and why it’s crucial for volunteers to respect the one-year commitment to foster. For those who are unsure whether fostering is for them, reach out to the rescue or someone involved in animal rescue to chat about whether it’s the right fit.

It’s astounding to think about how much I’ve learned and how many amazing people I’ve met since getting involved in animal rescue. It was through CARE’s program and mentorship that I was able to take in fosters and have a great experience. They have a wonderful network in place to support fosters of all different experience levels.

I share my fostering experiences through my blog. It’s been a fun way to share stories and tips on puppy training. Read more at homeandpuppy.com. CM

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