The Humane Society of Eastern North Carolina is urgently seeking individuals and families to foster dogs for one week while renovations to the shelter are completed.

“All it will cost is love,” Shelter Director Shelby Jolly said. “We supply everything. They just have to provide the snuggles.”

The facility located on Tupper Drive currently houses 20 dogs, ranging from 14-week-old puppies to older and bigger canines.

Homes are needed from Sunday, June 20, to Sunday, June 27. Fosters for cats are not as critical; no renovations are underway in the cat area.

Jolly said those interested in fostering, need to sign up through the website:

“Click on the volunteer tab, then ‘becoming a foster.’ It will tell you everything there is to know,” she said. “When you fill out a form, it comes to us. Volunteers will then receive an email showing what dogs are available to foster.” The process takes about 48 hours.

The organization provides fosters with everything the dogs need for the week, including food, bowls, treats, toys and a crate.

“The only cost is love — all the love you can give. That is what (the dogs) are looking for, along with playtime, ball-throwing and couch-cuddling,” Jolly said.

Foster families will need to be able to keep dogs inside.

“They can go outside and play,” Jolly said. “We don’t require a fenced-in yard to foster. But the primary living situation is the dog needs to be in the home with you.”

Facility improvements

Jolly said updates to the dog section were made possible by a generous donation.

”Carolina Arthritis Center donated $14,000 for our floors to be redone,” she said.

The donation helped pay for the shelter’s dog runs to be repaired. The new flooring was installed earlier this year.

“Next, they are coming to put a slip-resistant coat over the flooring and to repair any wear and tear they may have missed. We are also repainting the dog runs,” Jolly said.

According to the society’s website, it is a private, nonprofit organization.

“We rely on fundraising, grants and private donations to keep our doors open,” Jolly said.

Ongoing need

The humane society pulls animals from local shelters and cares for them while working to find them homes. It is one of the few no-kill shelters in the state.

The society’s mission statement is “to serve as a safe haven for homeless and neglected pets until they find their forever home and to serve as a resource to the community.”

Fostering is an ongoing need and is vital to the the humane society’s mission. It is available in a variety of forms.

“We have an option for fostering for just about everybody,” Jolly said. “If you just want to hang out with a dog for a day, we have those opportunities. Any time we can get the dogs out and spending time with people — getting some love and attention — is good. We spend a lot of time with them here, but it is no comparison to being in a home.”

She said there are hourly opportunities for volunteers to walk the dogs and play with cats, or take them on field trips.

“We have a lot of fun things, that are not a long-term commitment, things you can do if you are starting to think about wanting to adopt a dog,” she said. “If you are thinking about adopting, I highly recommend fostering with us first.

“Of course, we would not mind if you adopted your first foster with us — a wonderful home, is a wonderful home.”

COVID dogs

Jolly said she has seen an increase in the number of surrendered dogs that were bought or adopted during the COVID lockdown.

“We are seeing a lot of owner-surrendered dogs — maybe not to us, but surrendered to their local county shelters then we pulled them,” she said, to keep them from being euthanized.

“This is the hardest time for shelters in general. Everyone is moving or their lives have changed,” Jolly said. “It just happens to be that this year, a lot of people’s lives have changed completely because of what happened last year. There is definitely a huge influx.”

She also noted an increase in the number of dogs that are unsocialized.

“I call them COVID dogs because when we were quarantined, puppies weren’t getting socialized with people, so they became very fearful of (people outside their families),” she said.

“Owners have actually said they are surrendering their dogs because it doesn’t fit their life any longer,” Jolly said. “They want their friends to come over but the dog is absolutely terrified of new people.”

With training, that shyness can be overcome, she said.

“You have to work at it,” Jolly said. “Dogs are a lifetime commitment. Very young dogs that are shy can be turned around very quickly.”

Once all the renovations are complete, the humane society will resume its full range of fostering, adoption and rescue services.

“We will be able to pull again from our local county shelters,” she said. “There are animals out there that need us every day.”