The “Foster to Adopt” Pilot Program

Doris is our first success story in Rancho Coastal Humane Society’s new “Foster to Adopt” program!

In February’s FETCH, we introduced you to Doris, a 1-1/2-year-old Shepherd mix who had been crammed into the night “cat drop” at a shelter in Riverside County. She was transferred to RCHS through our Friends of County Animal Shelters (FOCAS) program.

Doris was very social, especially considering her past. She gave kisses. When you stopped petting her, Doris nudged you for more. She snuggled. Doris craved attention and was generous with her affections, but we needed to build trust. It was clear that Doris and her adopters were going to need some support after she left the shelter. We wanted her next human-animal bond to be a positive experience, to give Doris comfort in a new environment. Doris was a perfect candidate for our new “Foster to Adopt” Pilot Program.

Katie Kapler and Kevin Simonson became our first participants. RCHS Behavior and Training Specialist Libby Kovalcik and Behavior and Training Assistant Michele Moua worked with Katie at the shelter, teaching her how we modify behavior in new arrivals like Doris.

Katie got to know Doris, learned her habits and a lot about positive reinforcement training. Doris reacted to strangers and other dogs, and Katie was shown how to minimize Doris’ distress in those encounters. Michele says, “The goal was to make sure Doris, Katie, and Kevin were set up for success.”

Finally, Doris went home and began her 30-day “Foster to Adopt.” Here’s part of an email Michele got from Katie Kapler on May 1, 2022:
“Overall, she’s making a lot of progress. She’s transformed from nervous, protective to more of a playful, rambunctious, and clumsy toddler pup. She’s sleeping through the night and napping during the day. She sleeps roughly, 10pm-6am (uninterrupted), 10am-4pm (on and off). I’m able to leave the house (while Kev is home) and she doesn’t react in any negative way.

Other Doris-isms (We love this new term!) We worked on exposure to TV last night and she did soooo good – ended up chewing on her bone and then snoozing.”

On May 10, Michele wrote to Katie:
“We’re a little over 2 weeks of Doris coming to stay with you (Woohoo!!). Whenever you’re ready, Libby or I will come out with you and we will do the first training walk together.”

Katie responded: “Doris has been progressing so well! Her general reactivity to street clamor and sounds has improved. No accidents in the house in past 3 days. Meeting new people has improved – the last two people there was no jump/growling and general more relaxed body language.” 

During the next couple weeks, Libby and Michele both visited Doris in her new home with Katie and Kevin. Doris greeted them warmly and showed our team how much she was learning. Training milestones were celebrated, and Katie and Kevin provided the patience and stability Doris desperately needed. During this time, Doris seemed to “get it.”  Her life had changed, and it was never going to change back.

Doris’ file was updated on Friday, May 27, 2022 from “Foster to Adopt” to “Adoption Completed.”

Maybe, you’re our next Foster to Adopt success story!

Adoption fee includes medical exam, spay or neuter, up to date vaccinations, registered microchip, and one-year license if the dog’s home is in the jurisdiction of SD Humane Society’s Department of Animal Services.

If this isn’t the right time for you to get a pet, you can sponsor a “Fresh Start” for a pet at Rancho Coastal Humane Society. 

For information about adoption or to become a Virtual Foster visit Rancho Coastal Humane Society at 389 Requeza Street in Encinitas, call 760-753-6413, or log on to RCHS is open to adopters 11 AM to 4 PM Friday through Monday… and by appointment Wednesday and Thursday.