Chocolate the Chihuahua arrived at Los Angeles Animal Services this June in rough shape. He had been hit by a car and suffered a fractured vertebrae, broken pelvis, and dislocated hip.
Best Friends Animal Society in Los Angeles pulled the 9-year-old, 9-pound dog and found him a foster home where Chocolate could heal in a calm, loving environment.
At first, he just rested, having to be carried for potty breaks. After a month, Chocolate started to walk, though very wobbly.
“Once he was no longer in pain, he started becoming curious about the outside world. He practiced walking around and going up and down a ramp to the yard,” said Fukuda, a Best Friends volunteer who fosters Chocolate.
Today, Chocolate is a mobile, happy little dog. “He’s able to clear a mile or more easily and can even do stairs,” Fukuda said proudly.
Typically, pets with injuries or medical conditions such as broken bones, skin infections, and ringworm only have 1 to 3 days before they are often killed to make space at overcrowded shelters, so finding lifesaving alternatives are critical.
That’s why Best Friends is calling on pet-loving Angelenos to foster special needs pets until they recover and are ready for adoption.
“It’s all about creating space at the shelter. Every time someone takes a special needs pet into their home as a foster, Best Friends can go out and take another into our care,” said Jose Ocano, Pacific Region Director for Best Friends.
When Best Friends Animal Society’s No Kill Los Angeles (NKLA) initiative launched in 2012, the save rate at Los Angeles Animal Services was just 58 percent. As of August 2018, that save rate is 89.2 percent, just under 1 percent shy of the 90 percent benchmark to be considered no kill.
“We are so close...if we could get about 500 people to foster special needs pets over the next six weeks, LA will get to no kill,” Ocano said.
Fosters for Best Friends receive food, medical supplies, training to care for specific medical conditions, and access to veterinary care for their furry houseguests. A 24/7 phone line is also available for fosters to call with any questions or concerns.
The experience has been very fulfilling for Fukuda, who counts Chocolate as the fourth special needs pet she has brought home to foster.
“It's so rewarding to give space and love to an animal who needs healing. One on one care can expedite their healing so much,” she said. "I encourage those who have the time and heart to help special needs pets to foster. Best Friends makes it really easy and watching these pets get back on their feet and excited about life again is worth it all."
Especially when those pets find homes, which is the hope for Chocolate. “I am happy to help these dogs get healthy so that others could see what gems they are and adopt them,” Fukuda said.
For more information on fostering a special needs pet, click here