Elk Grove’s newly opened animal shelter has a lot of space to house and care for the area’s animals in need. But the shelter couldn’t function without community members who open their homes as part of its foster care program.

Foster care is a temporary arrangement in which a volunteer takes care of a shelter animal at home. Unlike adoption, which is permanent, fostering usually lasts from two to six weeks, and the shelter provides the essentials, from food and medical care to cat litter.

“Oftentimes, we use foster because (animals) are either too young to be here in the shelter, (or) they are sick and maybe need some more care in an environment that’s less stressful for them,” the city’s Animal Services Manager Sarah Humlie told the Citizen.

On Friday, Oct. 18, Humlie was in the process of moving into her office at the shelter, less than a week after the grand opening.

The shelter had just opened for the day, and visitors were starting to filter in. A few teenagers showed up at the front desk with a litter of kittens they’d found.

“If we have animals that just are not adjusting well to being in the shelter, and so it’s hard for potential adopters to see their personality or what a great animal they are … we love to use foster for those type of animals, too,” Humlie continued.

She said the foster program is often perceived as a secondary part of shelter operations, but she emphasized that this isn’t true.

“I would say it’s one of our foundational programs, that we would struggle to operate if we didn’t have a foster program,” Humlie said.

The animal shelter also offers what it calls “short-term fostering,” with its Doggie Day Out program, where volunteers take dogs out for a couple of hours while the kennels are being cleaned.

The shelter has mainly dogs and cats available for fostering, Humlie said, but other animals can also be in the program.

“We do actually have a rabbit out in foster care right now,” she said. “So … any animal that comes through our doors could, in theory, be a potential foster candidate.”

Humlie described the attachment that foster volunteers develop for the animals.

“They will take the dogs to pet stores and buy them all these toys. And some of our Doggie Day Out fosters have sponsored the adoption fee because they really want to help that animal get a new home,” she said.

Asked what the shelter looks for in a foster home, Humlie said that “it’s not too hard to be a foster.”

“I think we look for people who are going to care responsibly for the pet, who are going to be able to bring the pet back on a scheduled basis for the medical care that it might need,” she continued.

For those looking to foster who already have pets, she said the shelter makes sure that the pets will get along with the foster animal, or that the foster animal will have a space where it can be kept separate.

“I would say that the foster program is probably one of the programs that we’re most proud of,” Humlie said. “I don’t see it as an add-on; I see it as a need.”

To learn more about fostering, visit elkgrovecity.org/animalservices, then click “Animal Shelter” and “Volunteering and Foster Care.”

Animal Shelter’s ‘Dogtoberfest’ fundraiser coming Oct. 26

Supporters of the city’s animal shelter are invited to enjoy good beer and German foods at “Dogtoberfest,” which is an Oktoberfest-themed fundraiser party that’s being held at the new facility on Saturday, Oct. 26.

Beers in Sac, the organizer of the annual Elk Grove Brewfest, is also hosting this gathering that will feature beer contests and wiener dog races.

“You don’t know what they (the wiener dogs) are going to do, that’s why everyone loves it,” said Scott Scoville, the owner of Beers in Sac.

He said that the beer contests include beer-chugging challenges and the “stein contest” where players must hold a liter-sized stein of beer and not spill beer or bend their elbows.

Elk Grove breweries Dreaming Dog and the shelter’s neighbor, Tilted Mash Brewing, will have beers on tap at the festival. Tilted Mash’s staff told the Citizen they will release their Marzen-style lager named, Auf Wiedersehen (German for “farewell”) and a West Coast-style India Pale Ale named, Source Awards.

Admission is free, and a portion of the proceeds from beer sales and raffle tickets will benefit Friends of the Elk Grove Animal Shelter. This nonprofit assists with the city’s animal shelter and they played a key role in creating the new facility.

“Prepare to have a fun-filled day at Dogtoberfest, all the while helping our Elk Grove shelter animals,” said June LaVine of Friends of the Elk Grove Animal Shelter.

The party will be held from 12-6 p.m. at animal shelter, 9150 Union Park Way.

Citizen News Editor Cameron Macdonald contributed to this story.