Giving Hope, Finding Homes

When a brown, scruffy mutt named Kato first arrived at the Jacksonville Humane Society, the staff all thought the same thing: “He’ll be out of here in no time.” With his perky ears, impeccable manners and charming smile, they knew potential adopters would have a hard time saying no.



But that wasn’t the case.

Despite being ridiculously adorable and well-behaved, Kato could not find the right fit. He went on five (yes, five) sleepovers. (Sleepovers are a trial adoption we offer to families who aren’t 100% ready to commit.) Each time he came back the families would say, “He’s a great dog, BUT…”

Kato was dealing with separation anxiety. When left alone, he would try to chew through the bars in his crate. He would bark and cry himself into exhaustion. Suddenly, this highly adoptable dog was turning into a difficult placement.

That’s when I decided to help. Fostering a dog is not an ideal situation for me – I have a house full of cats and a very grumpy beagle – but I had a bond with this little guy. Kato had gone with me on two different television appearances as part of my job as the JHS Development Manager. Somehow in those two trips, he became attached to me. (Okay, maybe it was because I would come and sneak him cookies every day, too.) I was the only constant thing in his life at the moment, and he needed that consistency.

After his last return, I decided to take him home as a Promote-A-Pet, a new program we are offering, thanks to a grant from the ASPCA. The Promote-A-Pet program recruits foster parents to serve as special agents to a particular pet. The special agent takes home the pet and then promotes him or her for adoption. So, home with me he went!

On our first night at home, we did a photo shoot. The little guy was a natural, don’t you agree?

One special service JHS offers to special agents is the ability to list Promote-A-Pet fosters on their main website. I wrote Kato a description that described all his favorite things – treats, people, treats, car rides, walks in the park, and treats. I also posted many pictures on social media. Two weeks went by with some interest, but nothing quite right.

Then, one day, I got a text from a friend of mine who volunteers at the shelter. Her daughter, Cecely, recently moved into her own apartment and was ready for a dog. She was looking for an older dog who was already housetrained and wouldn’t mind being an only pet. Did I think my foster was a good fit? My heart skipped a beat. I had a hunch it would be perfect.

I invited Cecely over to meet Kato. Usually, when he met families at the shelter, he would only pay attention to the staff and lock his eyes on the door. This time, he ran right up to his new potential mom and parked himself in her lap.

“Oh, I just love him!” she squealed. And that’s when I knew it was meant to be.

She took him home for a sleepover just to see how he would do. It turns out, his separation anxiety would only occur in a crate. Since she didn’t have other pets (like me) she didn’t need to crate him when she left. And since she has a roommate – someone is almost always home to snuggle with him.

Cecely renamed him Bear and he is her very first pet after moving away from home. (Can we just take a second to applaud this young lady for selecting and 8 year old shelter dog as her first pet?) The two couldn’t be happier! Special thanks to the ASPCA for helping the Jacksonville Humane Society with this life-saving Promote-A-Pet foster program.


Are you interested in becoming a special agent in our Promote-A-Pet foster program? We are hosting an informational workshop this Saturday, February 27th at 10:30 a.m. at the Jacksonville Humane Society location on Beach Blvd. You can apply and take home a Promote-A-Pet foster the same day!

Can’t make it? Just call 492-4567 or email for more details. Visit our website for more foster parent information.