In nine years of providing foster care for dogs, Janice Thom
husband have cared for about 200 Doberman pinschers.She
seems to remember the story behind every one.
flipped through a scrapbook of dogs they've taken in, she
showed pictures with labels like "Hans, found in snow bank along I-35."Another Doberman, Mel, was discovered guarding his
owner's dead body.Troy, who still lives with the Thoms, was rescued from a puppy mill."They all have a sad story," said Thom, who is president of Kansas City Doberman Rescue.
People who take in lost or abandoned or mistreated pets work to turn those sad stories into happier ones, keeping dogs, cats, rabbits and other animals in their homes for weeks, sometimes months.They try to teach occasionally wayward animals to be sociable and give them veterinary care and affection.
Then comes the bittersweet moment when the animal they've cared for goes to a permanent home.
Groups like the Thoms' Doberman Rescue, funded mostly through donations, organize the process: They screen volunteers to be foster-owners, place animals in foster homes that suit them and then find adoptive owners.
"Without the foster homes, more dogs would die," Thom
said."You wouldn't have such successful adoptions."
Volunteers say they don't look at the extra company as a burden.
"You don't want one dog with a temperament problem to spoil it for thousands of others," Thom
Most rescue organizations require potential foster homes to complete a stringent application process.
"We learned the hard way you have to be careful" about who fosters animals, Thom
estimated that for every 10 applicants to be a Doberman Rescue volunteer, only one is chosen.
The adoption process for a potential owner is usually lengthy, with many questions about previous pets, their living space and plans for the new pet.
Eventually the time comes for a foster owner to give up a pet that they have kept for several weeks or months -- or in the case of the Thoms' foster dog, Troy, two years.
Volunteers have mixed feelings about the event.Some feel like they are losing a pet of their own, but they also know it is best for the animal.
"It's always hard to give them up, but we know they're going to a home where they don't have to share their mom and dad," Thom