Written by Sarah Brasky, Founder and Executive Director of Foster Dogs Incorporated.
It’s crazy to think this all began an entire decade ago.
FosterDogsNYC.com was “born” when I fostered my first shelter dog Mocha, back in Summer 2009.
At the time that Mocha came into my life, there was no go-to resource for foster dogs or foster programs, nor any feeling of community in the New York City foster scene. It was as if I discovered this incredible secret about a cool way to help shelter animals, and no one else knew! At least, that’s how I felt.
I wrote on our blog back in August 2009, after Mocha had been adopted:
Since moving to Manhattan over a year ago, I had been yearning for the company a doggie (since my beloved dog was living with my parents in CT, where he was much happier than in the city). I’d spend time every week on PetHarbor and PetFinder, searching available dogs in my area. I would wake up early on weekdays to walk in Central Park and see owners taking their dogs out before work for a romp in the fields. I puppypat. Whatever it took. Simply put, I was/am obsessed. Adopting a dog of my own would have been a perfect solution, but my unsteady work schedule and lease requirements prohibited me from making a long-term commitment to a living creature. I joined ACC’s foster program to get more involved. And then, while I was at my utter end of the rope of wanting to get more involved, Mocha fell into my lap.
Upon her arrival, I worked day and night to make sure Mocha’s adoptability was known to as many people as possible. I created this very blog you’re reading right now, which ended up being such a worthwhile endeavor and has been posted on several other dog-related websites. I walked all over Manhattan with Mocha, who was decked out in her neon “ADOPT ME” vest, chatting with anyone who gave us the time of day. Mocha and I also spent a couple weekends at Petco’s Adoption Sundays in the Upper East Side. It was important for me to make sure Mocha was seen by the public, along with meeting as many potential adopters as possible to ensure we found a perfect match. With help from a local NYC rescue group, I was able to post Mocha on PetFinder.com as a Courtesy Listing.
Lo and behold, one week after posting, a nice girl from Brooklyn emailed me to ask if my foster dog Mocha was still available. We met the following day in Central Park to see how their personalities would work together. Well, it was a match made in heaven! Upon seeing Mocha, the first words out of the adopter’s mouth were: “THIS is my dog!” I knew that Mocha had found her new companion. We immediately walked to Animal Care & Control to sign all paperwork and pay the small adoption fee.
Thus began the effort that would soon be called Foster Dogs Incorporated, becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 2014 after several years of expanding to include numerous volunteers and thousands of rescue stories. Back in 2009, our site was run solely by me; it was active with potential adopters, rescuers, and foster folks, with advice and resources building over the years).
The focus of our site was to promote dogs currently in foster care and dogs in need of foster homes. The work was endless, as it still remains to this day. But our evolution has also involved a shift from posting dog-bios (a la: PetFinder, AdoptAPet, PetHarbor, social media), to focusing on foster-related topics (read our blog articles), foster resources (learn about our programs), and local and national events. When I began my website, PetFinder was the primary source for adoptable dog listings - but wasn’t so focused on the foster experience.
Take a moment to view the evolution of our homepage, as Foster Dogs grew in volunteer power, visual style, programming efforts, technology use, and overall improvement of the organization. We are proud to boast about our brand new [gorgeous] website launched in 2018, after nearly a full decade of lifesaving work.
2009 - 2012
Website hosted by Blogspot.com
Website hosted by Wordpress.com
Website hosted by Squarespace.com
In recent years, social media has changed the game and allows each rescue group to post their dogs as often as they desire, using whatever photos they can get, updating info easily on their own, and connecting with all sorts of other users. The volunteer time it took for us to post one dog’s listing and follow-up was at least one hour per dog, and that can certainly add up when we’re posting 50-60 dogs per month from our rescue partners.
Facebook Page 2010, 2019
In 2018, we launched a brand new, full-branded, modern website through 100% volunteer design and development. The thousands of dollars it might cost a corporation to re-design a website were used for our programs, yet will bring in future fosters and rescue involvement based on the ease of use and high-quality design. Our first major website overhaul since 2013, this mobile-optimized user-friendly resource is accessible by anyone interested in fostering or learning more!
Through this re-design, we can continue to provide lifesaving resources for current and prospective foster parents, and clear and concise information about our mission and programs. Our network of Participating Organizations shows how the foster community is growing, and we are eager to continue building that community.
Please donate to support our efforts, so we may continue our important work, and to show off the beauty that is fostering.
Main image featuring adopted dog Escher, by @NYCPetPhotographer Stacey Axelrod