Most everyone knows that a foster parent provides a stop-over home, an in-between home in a child's life before he reaches his permanent family.

Well, a foster home for animals is exactly the same, and a new group, Greene Pet Foster Network, is forming to assist with the problem of overpopulation of pets here in Greeneville and Greene County.

The Network's kickoff event is a "Mobile Adoption Day" scheduled from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, at Kmart.

Yes, there will be heat and light, and the animals, both dogs and cats, will be to the left of the building, which is where the gardening department is located during the summer months.

Kat Rollins, a member of the network, wrote, "We are very serious about placement of pets into the proper environment, because we desperately want the Forever Home to be just that."

Because of that seriousness, pets will NOT be leaving with their new families on Saturday. The Network will take applications and do background checks before placing any animal in a home.

However, the main goal is to PLACE the animals, so don't be intimidated by the group's protective rules, Alice Loftin stressed.

She explained, during a telephone conversation, that the network wants to give people an opportunity to think about the adoption - that the pet not be a spur-of-the-moment acquisition which people later regret. The network also needs to be sure that the animal is going to a home, not being taken to a laboratory to be used in experiments, she further explained.

Carefully Planned Ratio

The animals in the network are from three sources, and in a strictly controlled ratio.

Sixty percent will be salvaged from the Greene County Animal Control Facility, 30 percent will be long-term caged dogs from the Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society's Animal Shelter, and 10 percent will be accepted from the general public.

This ratio has been arrived at through deliberation, and a strict order to fill empty spaces will be followed.

Alice Loftin, a member of the group, said in an interview that most of the animals taken to Animal Control are pets being surrendered by their owners, and that the Network has no intention of removing responsibility from pet owners, but to save animals that are adoptable.

Network's Work

Once an animal is accepted into the network, it goes to a foster home, where it is fed, housed, and loved.

However, the foster parents are also housetraining the animal and teaching it simple obedience - "sprucing it up a bit," Loftin says.

Rollins said, "We intend to take them into our foster care, work on their manners, some basic obedience, and then we have a much more adoptable pet going to a Forever Home.

Kat Rollins notes, "Our mission is to remove pets who have found themselves at Animal Control, and pets who have been at the Humane Society for an overlong time. We believe that by placing these pets in foster care, working with them and finding Forever Homes, we can save a lot of them."

She also added that in the agreement between the Network and the adopting family, any animal that ever becomes unwanted is to be returned ONLY to the Network, and not farmed out or passed on.

Currently, purebred dogs are being removed from the Animal Control Facility and placed with Breed Rescue Organizations.

This is being coordinated by Tracy Sargent, about whom Rollins said, "She is tireless in the work she is doing getting rescue organizations to take these pure bred dogs, and is even transporting them herself. Are you aware that no rescue will take even a purebred animal until it has been vet-checked and vaccinations are current? This woman is currently also footing the bill on all of this besides the transports."

Rollins said that Sargent has met over and over again with people involved with Animal Control and the Humane Society to help Animal Control to have alternatives other than being only a "Doggie Death Row."

"Tracy is the reason that any animals are making it out of Animal Control alive," Rollins said.

The group is also planning a "spay day" in 2004.

Fostering A Pet

The Network is looking for additional foster homes and people who wish to become part of the solution to the overpopulation of animals in this area.

They encourage all pet owners to spay or neuter the animals they already own.

Then, "If you have room in your heart and home": to adopt a rescued animal and give it a lifetime of love; foster one or two rescued pets while the Networks looks for a "forever home"; and "let the group release some kitties from the feral cat round up onto your property to help control rodent population. (The feral cats have been spay/neutered/vaccinated.)

If a person doesn't have room or the inclination to take a pet into the home, there are a multitude of other, less time-consuming, but very necessary ways in which a volunteer can help.

There is something for everyone who is interested in assisting these homeless animals.

Call 638-8716 for more information, or go to the "Mobile Adoption Day" on Saturday for first-hand information.

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