From Foster to Family

Animal Rescue AARF Saves Lives with Foster Program

Rogers Forge resident Betsy Duer adopted her very first dog, Gwen, 10 years ago from a local rescue. She had very little experience with dogs, and her new addition came with some fear-reactive issues with other pets. While Duer was working with a trainer to correct these issues, they discussed the possibility of fostering a dog.

The fostering process allows a pet to acclimate to life outside of a kennel or shelter and to gain trust in people, pets and their environment. Duer was introduced to a new rescue organization: Animal Allies Rescue Foundation. In 2014, she became the foster coordinator and today she is co-president of the rescue. Over the past decade, she has fostered more than 30 dogs. Many of them have been adopted in the Towson area and Rogers Forge community.   

AARF is one of the few rescues that allows families with children to foster and adopt, Duer notes. “Families meet with the foster coordinators several times and throughout the process. There are usually multiple introductions and strict guidelines that must be followed,” she says. “This ensures a smooth and safe experience for the foster pets and their families.”

Children are always encouraged to volunteer. Making signs for adoption events, having fundraisers and sharing pictures of available pets on their social media accounts are just some of the ways junior “AARFies” can contribute.

One day Duer was walking Ziggy, a beagle she was fostering who had just been transported from a high-kill shelter in Louisiana, when she ran into Jamie and Laurel Magruder and their daughter and son. The kids were 5 and 10 at the time and had frequently visited AARF fosters in the neighborhood. “We are a rescue family. We believe there are so many wonderful dogs that need homes, rescue is our only way to go,” says Laurel Magruder. 

The children fell in love with Ziggy, and the feeling was mutual. After the Magruder’s completed the necessary paperwork and procedures, which include a home visit, personal references, a veterinary reference and an interview, Ziggy began visiting his new family in their home.  

“When we have children in the home, we are extremely diligent in making sure it is the perfect match for the dog and the family,” says Duer.

Because Ziggy is still undergoing treatment for heartworm, he cannot be discharged from AARF’s care just yet. So the Magruder family is fostering to adopt. 

“The experience has been great for our kids. Every morning my daughter feeds Ziggy, and then my son takes him for a walk,” Laurel says. “He is part of our family now.”

Like most pet rescues, AARF takes in many more cats and kittens than dogs. Finding homes for all of these felines can be quite challenging. One happy ending involves Caitlin Rettaliata, who is Duer’s lifelong friend. Rettaliata and her 8-year-old son had been talking about adopting a kitten for quite a while. With Duer’s help, they chose a big fluffy orange one. 

“My son said he wanted to name a kitten ‘Johns Hopkins,’” Rettaliata recalls. This was about two years before they actually decided to adopt, but the name stuck. Johns Hopkins is now nearly three years old and admittedly rules the roost. He loves to play, especially with Q-tips. 

“He will fetch a Q-tip and drop it right in front of you. He could play this all day long,” Rettaliata says. 

She and her son hope to one day adopt a dog from AARF, but for now, a cat is a perfect fit for their busy lives.

For more information, visit AnimalAlliesRescue.org.