"Encore Pets" Finds Pet Foster Parents Until They Find Forever Home

By: Kelsie Smith
By: Kelsie Smith

They're abandoned, lost, homeless and some are even on death row. But one local organization is taking these pets in and placing them in foster care while they wait for their forever home. Kelsie Smith spoke with some foster parents who say the hardest part is not falling in love.

Valentina is a small dog, who just a few months ago was cold, alone and close to death.

"I was walking to the post office to check our PO Box and I nearly tripped over a little tiny dog and she was only 9 lbs at the time." said founder encore pets Joanna Shertzer.

Valentina was starved, sick and flea infested.

"They almost killed her she had so many fleas," said foster parent Claire Burkhart.

"We ended up taking her into our rescue program and she's doing fantastic. In 2 months time she's become a playful energetic spunky little girl and has really blossomed in foster care," said Shertzer.

Joanna Shertzer, founder of encore pets in Carteret County, says since May of 2007 they have rescued and found new homes for 321 cats and dogs like Valentina. All of whom have been cared for in foster homes like Claire Burkhart's.

"I just love to teach them to be a dog and to trust people," said Burkhart.

Claire, who has 2 dogs and 4 cats of her own, has fostered and homed 14 dogs for Encore Pets.

"One of the benefits of fostering, is Encore god love them, they pay for all the vet bills all the food and any medicine," said Burkhart.

This helps foster parents like Claire and Shawn Cherry - who is fostering Neko, and has fostered and homed 4 dogs and 69 cats, give all of their attention to helping the animals love again.

"It's very rewarding you get to see the animals their personalities develop, they're trust be reestablished," said Cherry.

Many of Encore's cats pend time in the windows at Pet Smart in Morehead City, but when they're sick, have just been spayed or neutered, or just need some TLC they'll spend time in a foster home like Shawn's.

It's not difficult at all it's great, it's a chance to, I get to have all these little personalities in cats without having to have all these personalities in cats and encore pets has made it very easy to foster," said Cherry.

Fostering and adopting cats and dogs is just a third of Encore Pets. They also educate the community with a monthly newsletter and hold discounted spay and neuter clinics. So far, they have helped spay and neuter 1107 dogs and cats.

"We're trying to help the community as a whole and make it a better place for animals to be ," said Shertzer.

Animals like Valentina, who are living proof a second can make for a great encore performance.

Both Valentina and Miko are still waiting for their forever homes as of Thursday.

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