PULLMAN, Wash.–Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine is calling on the public to provide foster homes for 13 or more dogs seized by the Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Department. The dogs are mostly females and large mastiffs or similar breeds that were seized from an alleged puppy mill in Newport in January.
“The process of placing these dogs in foster homes is somewhat complicated and does not guarantee the foster families will be able to keep them at the conclusion of the criminal proceedings,” said Catherine Ulibarri, an associate professor and behaviorist at the college overseeing the foster program.
Ulibarri explained that the selection of foster homes and placement of the animals is only a temporary measure established by the Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Department for the duration of the criminal proceedings. Depending on how the trials are resolved, foster animals may have to be returned to the defendants or forfeited permanently and adopted by the foster family or others.
“No matter how this turns out, these dogs need to go to individual homes while the legal issues are determined,” said Ulibarri. “I encourage people to call us at 509/335-1589 and begin the process of becoming a foster home, if they are at all interested in the welfare of these otherwise healthy animals.”
The fostering process begins with an application to the college’s task force. Once the application is received, a background check is performed on the prospective foster caregiver. “The background check is the best way the court can ensure the animals are placed in a proper environment and that they will be returned if called,” explained Ulibarri.
Following the first two steps, a site visit is conducted to ensure the animals will be kept securely and away from hazards or theft. Next, the prospective foster family visits the animals at WSU and selects the dog they want. Finally, the task force meets once more to assess the suitability of the foster arrangement and to release the dog to its new home. The whole process is estimated to take three weeks.
“While there are many criteria that must be met to foster a dog, responsible pet owners should not be intimidated,” emphasized Ulibarri. “These dogs need the care and attention only a good home can provide. And the system that rescued them needs the service of good citizens to care for this property.”
For more information or to begin the foster application process contact: Catherine Ulibarri, Ph.D., VCAPP, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6520, phone 509/335-1589, fax 509/335-4650.