Sarah Brasky was new to fostering dogs when she created a blog that changed the foster world forever.
Foster Dogs NYC is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was created in 2009 on the premise that there were no resources for people involved in dog fostering. Sarah Brasky took it upon herself to unite other foster parents, and to gather resources and knowledge on fostering dogs, making it available to the general public. The website grew quickly, and sparked a movement that changed the world of dog rescue.
We were fortunate to have an in-depth interview with Foster Dogs NYC Founder, Sarah Brasky herself, to learn all about the site, their achievements, touching rescue stories, and even some adoptable pups!
“Bronco is a lovabull 8 year old blue nosed Pit Bull. He was an owner-surrender three years ago and has been in a shelter since. Now, he’s in a foster home and is doing so well. He adores people and is a total mush. All he wants is to hang with you, cuddle, and give kisses!”
What prompted you to begin fostering, and the creation of Foster Dogs NYC?
“After graduating from college eight years ago, I got a marketing job in Manhattan. Despite my goal of bringing my dog to the city to live with me, my parents and I knew that staying with them in Connecticut was best for him. What was this dog lover to do? I found another solution to my deep desire to have a dog: fostering! Through some online research, I discovered a foster program at the NYC ACC shelter, and joined an email listserv of a young rescuer. Upon receipt of an email entitled, “This dog will die tomorrow morning if she doesn’t find a home,” I replied that I would take her, and the rest is history. I brought home a pit bull from the shelter, scooped off death row, who lived with me for one month before she found her amazing adopter. While fostering a shelter dog, I felt completely clueless about certain challenges, asking friends and some shelter contacts. But there had to be a better solution. I started FosterDogsNYC.com, sharing dogs in need of foster homes as well as advice and resources. The website soon grew from posting dogs strictly from our city shelter, to several dozen nonprofit rescue groups around NY and around the country. We went from zero volunteers to over twenty, of various skill sets and interest.
What better way to help dogs in need than to solve a major problem happening around the country? Too many dogs are euthanized at shelters due to lack of kennel space, and stress/illness. Those are all issues that can be solved simply through fostering. Once a shelter dog is in a home, he/she can decompress and learn routines, in order to feel healthy again and to get ready for adoption.”
“Bronco is a strong boy who loves long walks and fresh air! He gets along with most dogs, but prefers the ladies. Bronco loves any toy that squeaks and currently knows five commands (sit, stay, down, up, paw). He is extremely smart and will learn anything you teach him! He just wants you to be his friend and give him a chance to love you.”
How would you describe your first fostering experience?
“I had two “first” fostering experiences: Paco and Mocha. Paco was a 16 year old blind and deaf senior Chihuahua, belonging to a homeless woman in New York City. Through the city shelter’s then-Safety Net program, I met Paco who lived with me for one month. He was gentle, tiny, mellow, sleepy – an overall easy dog. When I left my marketing job and had some time before my lease was up, I began getting more involved with the local shelter in Harlem, which is how I met Mocha. Fostering a shelter pit bull was the polar opposite experience from that with my senior Chihuahua. This “mini pittie” was active, silly, eager to learn – a dog needing frequent mental and physical exercise. She and I spent our July walking around Manhattan, learning which stores were dog-friendly, and witnessing just how nervous many people were to walk near a pit bull on the street.
Both Paco and Mocha were “firsts” for my intro to fostering. I feel lucky to have been able to help them, and to have had such incredibly positive experiences to this day.”
“Bernie was dumped in a shelter after the resident dogs kept attacking him, and the owners could not handle it anymore. Bernie weighs 54 lbs and is in good health, vaccinated, and neutered. He is incredibly sweet and a total doll. He loves to play fetch and tug of war with his chew/squeeze toys.”
What is the most rewarding part of fostering or working with rescue dogs?
“Working to help homeless dogs is a truly rewarding job, and I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to continue on a path I’ve created as Executive Director of Foster Dogs Inc. and Owner of The Dog Matchmaker. Whenever I see the smile of a new volunteer taking a “selfie” with their foster pup, or hearing about a dog who found an adopter with my help, that’s the best reward I can ask for.
Not everyone is interested in adoption, let alone fostering – so it’s up to us to continue the conversation, and encourage people to adopt, avoiding pet stores and breeders. There are simply too many great dogs available around NYC and around the world, who desperately need homes.”
“Bernie is a perfect gentleman on leash, and enjoys long walks around the neighborhood. He is amazing with children! Full of life and eager to please, Bernie has a wonderful disposition. He’s not able to live with other pets at this time, but loves his humans – and makes the best couch snuggle buddy!”
What is the most challenging part of fostering or working with rescue dogs?
“One challenge of fostering a new dog is preparing for the unexpected. It’s impossible to know everything about a dog before he/she enters your home, no matter their history or available information. So when a new foster dog arrives, it’s helpful to be patient and understanding if that dog displays behavior or health concerns that were not evident in the past. Too often, I hear from foster volunteers who back out at the sight of a tick, or after the dog takes a pee on their rug.
Foster Dogs Inc. is here to help remind you that these are OK, and there are solutions to nearly every problem! We work with nonprofit rescue organizations so that the dog is supported by a team, and no foster parent is an “island.” We want our foster volunteers to feel supported and enthusiastic about this incredible experience on which they have embarked.”
“Zib is a neutered, male Miniature Pinscher, approximately 1.5 years old. Found wandering in Bed-Stuy, he was taken in and fostered by a family with another min-pin. Now it’s time to find his forever home. Zib is gorgeous, with rare coloring for a min-pin: a fawn red coat, white chest patch, and faint brindle on his back. He’s trim and muscular at about 14 lbs with a cute pink nose.”
If you could sum up the benefits of fostering in one statement, what would that be?
“Fostering is incredibly rewarding, both to the caretaker and to the dog! By bringing home a shelter dog in need, you are saving his/her life and are getting that dog ready for adoption. And in turn, that dog will bring joy to your life! Though it’s challenging at times, and tough to say “goodbye,” fostering is a priceless experience that can be repeated as many times as you want!”
“Zib is curious and mischievous and loving, equally at home cuddling in bed or zipping around the house. He’s a great jumper and isn’t shy about investigating tables and counters. Zib loves toys and blankets and tug-of-war. He gets along well with other dogs and cats. Zib is housebroken but doesn’t know many other commands. He’s not especially food-motivated, but with the right approach, we think he’ll be a quick study!”
What advice would you give to potential foster parents?
“When someone decides to become a foster caretaker to a shelter dog, it’s so beneficial to read up and know a bit about what to expect. That being said, the best way to have a successful foster experience is to go with the flow and remain flexible and understanding! There will always be new situations that arise, even to the most experienced of dog parents – so keep a positive attitude and ask for help when needed!
Foster Dogs Inc. created a “Foster Dog Manual” which we provide for free as a PDF on our website; by compiling professional advice and general tips for bringing home a new dog, our hope is that more people will persevere when “the going gets tough.”
View the manual: fosterdogsnyc.com/manual/“
“Kiarra is a sugary sweet 6 year old pit mix. This pretty lady was brought to us after she had been hit by a car. She is very lucky to be alive, but her rear legs are still weak from the hit. She is currently in foster and her foster mama says that her legs are getting better and better every day. Kiarra is a total and complete love bug who is trusting of all humans and good with children.”
What qualities do you look for in potential foster parents or volunteers?
“New foster parents are always welcome in the rescue community! While some dogs require a caretaker with a certain level of training experience (for everyone’s safety), many dogs just want a loving, responsible home. Everyone has it in them to set boundaries, provide food, walks, and attention. It’s crucial to consider one’s work schedule and roommate’s feelings before bringing home a new dog, and to discuss fostering with one’s landlord and/or superintendent. Surprises are not always a good idea!
Once the dog arrives, there will be plenty to learn – and that’s OK. It’s all part of the fun.”
“Kiarra loves her rope toys and enjoys play time! She is a little unsure of other dogs, and would need to be the only pet in the home at this time. Kiarra is housetrained and her foster mama says that she is a total dream in the home. She isn’t destructive and even enjoys sleeping in her crate at night (she just likes the door open). If you’re looking to adopt a sweet girl who enjoys giving the most gentle kisses in the world then Kiarra is definitely your girl.”
Who were your most memorable dogs in foster care or rescue?
“There are too many incredible stories over the years to count. I could list the names of dogs who have impacted my organization and went on to have wonderful lives, but the list could be pages long. I’ve chosen a small group of special dogs involved with Foster Dogs Inc.”
“Zeppelin found a foster home with one of our volunteers, and joined us for an adoption event three years ago. After that event, he met his new parents who had always wanted a dog named Zeppelin – meant to be! Now, he volunteers for us as a therapy dog in our “Canines in the Classroom” program for children.
Saved by Social Tees Animal Rescue.”
“Ariel waited four years in a boarding kennel before we helped find her a foster home. She joined our Operation Foster Bound program for long-term shelter dogs, who were considered “safe” but were stuck in a cage. After three months in foster care and help from several other local organizations, Ariel found her forever home this month. She now lives in Massachusetts with an awesome couple who adores her to bits.
Saved by Twenty Paws Rescue.”
“Tera was rescued in horrible condition. She was covered in fleas and ticks, and paralyzed in her hind legs. Upon her rescue, she was rushed to the vet who determined that she has malignant tumors covering 80% of her spine; surgery was not a viable option. At five years old, this beautiful German Shepherd had endured a lot. We found her an incredible Fospice home, to live out her final months. She was set up with a doggy wheelchair, which allowed her to feel more independent and “normal.”
She got along well with the other dog and cat in the home, and joined the family on a cross-country road trip when they moved this summer to Seattle. Just a couple weeks after arriving in Seattle, Tera’s condition declined and she passed away. Knowing that we helped this gentle dog in need makes it all worth it.
Rescued by BARRK.”
Sarah Brasky and the dedicated volunteers behind Foster Dogs NYC will continue to rescue and rehome dogs, with the help of this fabulous network of foster parents. This incredible difference they are making wouldn’t be possible without the help of generous volunteers and donations.
If you were touched by Foster Dogs NYC’s story, please visit their website and donate today to help dogs in need.
A huge thank you to Sarah Brasky for providing us the opportunity to spread awareness of this wonderful organization, and for creating the greatest foster network in the world!
Featured Dogs Available For Adoption:
Bronco – FDNYC Profile
Bernie – FDNYC Profile
Zib – FDNYC Profile
Kiarra – FDNYC Profile