Foster Spotlight: Michelle Green
Many members of the BARCS community know Michelle Green as the organizer of online auctions that have raised thousands upon thousands of dollars for the Franky Fund to help sick and injured animals.
What they might not know is that for the past nine years, Michelle has been a foster mom to more than 500 (yes, you read that right—500!) dogs and cats, with the majority being kittens, some of whom are so young they need around the clock care.
“It all started when my daughters wanted a kitten,” says Michelle. So in May of 2012, they headed to BARCS where they adopted two kittens. That was when she heard about fostering.
“I had certainly heard about fostering children, but didn’t know you could foster animals,” she said.
Two weeks later, after the two adopted kittens were settled, she started fostering. Her first fosters were a mama cat and her eight kittens.
“We turned Jayden’s (her daughter) playroom into a foster room; we wanted a safe haven for this cat and her kittens,” Michelle says. To this day, that room is still reserved for fosters.
One of the biggest challenges Michelle takes on is fostering “bottle babies,” kittens who need to be fed every two to three hours, around the clock. “It’s hard to find people to make that kind of commitment,” she says, so she has taken care of many, including eight at once. She goes from bottle or syringe feeding every couple of hours to introducing them to gruel and then the litter box.
“You have to be their mom,” she says, so along with making sure they survive, she teaches them how to “cat,” which along with litter box etiquette, includes grooming and socializing.
Though most of her fosters have been felines, Michelle has fostered dogs as well. “There was a need,” she says, so she pitched in. Her first foster dogs were two dachshund mixes. To this day, she stays in touch with their adopter.
While she does the “heavy lifting” of fostering, her daughters have pitched in, especially with socializing the animals so they become adoptable. One of her daughters got her service hours for school by working with the fosters.
“Fostering is a wonderful family activity,” Michelle says. “Kids learn about animals and responsibility. For high school students needing service hours, fostering is a great activity, and it is so needed.”
When people talk to Michelle about fostering, they often express fears that they won’t be able to let the animal go. “You can let them go because you know you get to save another,” she says. She adds that BARCS will work with a potential foster to make sure it’s a good fit. “When you foster, you save two lives,” she says. “The animal you foster frees up room for another animal.” And since BARCS is an open-admission shelter, it does not have the option of turning away an animal. “Fosters literally save lives,” she says.
Michelle does have a herd of her own animals, but she is quick to tell you she did not “foster fail,” that is, adopt a foster, until she had fostered more than 30 animals.
“I encourage new fosters not to “foster fail” on their first animal,” Michelle says, “because then, you don’t get to experience the reward of your work to make sure that animal goes to a great forever home. There is nothing better.”