Pandemic pets: An increase in fostering is keeping more Baton Rouge pets alive

Photo by Collin Richie

Carrie Kahn was one of dozens of volunteers who lined up outside Companion Animal Alliance late last March to help the agency find foster homes for its sheltered animals.

Gov. John Bel Edwards had just issued Louisiana’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order, and CAA, Baton Rouge’s nonprofit animal shelter, issued emergency pleas to volunteers to foster a dog or cat. The facility was going to be closed to the public for adoptions during the shutdown, while also having to continue to take in stray dogs.

“I think I waited four hours outside, since they were limiting the number of visitors inside at the time,” Kahn recalls. “So many people showed up to foster that day. It was truly incredible to see the community step up.”

One by one, prospective fosters entered the building to pick out an animal they felt would fit well into their lives. Some were already trained to foster pets, and newcomers had trained online before arriving, or received an orientation on the spot. By the end of the day, CAA had found successful matches for about 130 of the 200 mostly dogs at the shelter. Those remaining weren’t adoptable anyway—they had been picked up by Animal Control, but had owners.

The all-call was a huge accomplishment, and one that’s had a lasting impact on the shelter’s operations more than a year later, says CAA Philanthropy Director Emily Jackson.

Read on to learn more about how the increase in fostering has improved the save rate of Baton Rouge pets in this story from 225.