Updated: Jan 26
Two amazing Long Beach women are volunteering their time and resources to helping bigger dogs make it from shelter to home.
By John Grossi
When Jeanne Perales walked through the Long Beach Animal Shelter, Titus immediately caught her eye. The blind and aging German Shepherd was beautiful, humble, and friendly, but would need help getting placed outside the kennel – and life inside is a fate no dog deserves.
Perales and friend Sara Azevedo began their website FURever as a way to expand the reach of their volunteer services within the Long Beach dog community. Though not a non-profit, the women and their website work as a conduit among homeless dogs, foster-based dog rescues and foster families. They are just two women who understand the system of city shelters, fostering, dog rescues and adoption in Long Beach, with a passion to help fill in the gaps and ease the process so that dogs can find a home sooner rather than later.
Why Foster Big Dogs?
German Shepherds and other large breed dogs like Titus are FURever’s specialty since that category holds the greatest need. “The little guys tend to get adopted quicker, so we focus on finding fosters for larger breed dogs because they are typically harder to place, as well as special needs and medical needs dogs,” explains Jeanne.
One of the main challenges for foster-based rescues wanting to help larger dogs, according to Jeanne, is finding a suitable foster home. Along with that is convincing more dog lovers in the community to become fosters as there is a huge need for foster families.
“For the dog—being in a shelter is pretty much the opposite of ideal. You don’t get to see the real dog. If you’re looking to adopt a dog and you go into the shelter to evaluate their behavior and personality— that’s not really the dog you’re going to be getting.”
Titus is a perfect example.
The McKiernan Family Fostering Story
The McKiernan Family - Gavin, Terry, Mia, and Finn - were looking into bringing a 2nd dog into their family. Terry McKiernan, a volunteer herself at the Long Beach Animal Shelter, had previously looked into fostering or adopting, but didn’t get very far. Especially since they already have an energetic dog in the household named Potter. City shelters simply do not have the resources to personally evaluate individual situations, so a factor such as “already having a dog” may prevent willing foster or adopting families from being able to help.
But before the McKiernans were able to go through an adoption process, Terry saw a powerful plea on Facebook from Jeanne Perales about Titus. Due to Jeanne’s personalized
care, attention and evaluation of Titus, as well as a preliminary interview with the McKiernans, she was able to connect Thulani Senior German Shepherd Rescue with the McKiernan family to get Titus out of the shelter and into the loving McKiernan foster home where he will be part of the family until a permanent family chooses to adopt him!
Jeanne says that just a month into the foster program, Titus’ attitude and outward appearance
has changed night and day. “Oh my gosh, he seems so much younger. He’s happy, you can tell he’s comfortable. I never saw him wag his tail at the shelter. His fur looks beautiful, the mass that was hanging from his neck is gone. He’s much more relaxed. He’s showing affection— he never showed affection at the shelter.”
The McKiernans are inspired by how quickly Titus has gotten the lay of the land, calmed down, and become a part of their family. The transition to their home definitely took about a week of work in helping the blind and frightened dog to feel more comfortable. But after that week, no more barking, less bumping into furniture, and much more playfulness and affection.
Thanks to FURever, any potential adopters who come and meet Titus at the McKiernan
home will know that this friendly, gentle, and playful German Shepherd will fit into
their permanent home forever!
FURever has developed trusting relationships with several dog rescues that save homeless dogs in the Southern California area. Our goal is to help these dog rescues with the challenging task of finding fosters for large breed dogs. Learn more at foster2furever.com.