I am a senior at Cathedral Catholic High School. Like many of my peers, I have found lockdown to be extremely isolating and, frankly, pretty depressing. I was starting to feel increasingly sad about the state of the world. Seeking an outlet to overcome those feelings, I persuaded my parents to let me foster rescued dogs and puppies during the quarantine.
My family most often works with Mutt Scouts Dog Rescue in San Diego. During the quarantine, we have rescued and placed over 15 dogs into loving forever homes. We also recruited and inspired 11 other families to start fostering.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, some 3.3 million dogs enter U.S. shelters each year. During COVID-19, a lot of animal shelters were shut down and some of the animals that were not placed in shelters were, reportedly, put down. What many people do not realize is that most animal rescue programs do not have kennels. Every dog that is rescued must have an immediate foster family to care for it and help rehabilitate it, or it cannot be rescued. So the rescue population is directly equal to the number of families willing to foster.
I love rescuing these dogs, especially over the quarantine, because it gives our whole family a common purpose. We’ve been united in the cause of nursing the puppies and even sick dogs back to health and then finding them great homes. Over the months of COVID, we have inspired other neighborhood families to also foster and have shared in the care and fun of three litters together. They really do bring a lot of new life and positive energy into our homes.
People often say they could never foster dogs because it would be too hard to give them up. For me, the feeling I get when I have matched the perfect dog with the perfect home is far greater than any sadness associated with my own personal loss. It’s like watching the beginning of a love story. Additionally, most of the owners of the dogs we place in homes stay in touch via text and social media, so I get to enjoy watching the dogs grow and bond with their forever family.
So far, we’ve placed four dogs with families who live right here in Alvarado Estates. One such adoption was by the Lee family. Mrs. Lee told me, “Adopting (our dog) Lewis was one of those meant to be moments. He came into our home and it is like he has always been with us. We are all so in love with him!”
It’s so fun to see them walking Lewis around the neighborhood and realizing I had an important role in bringing them together.
Animal rescue is now a central part of who I am. It is the most rewarding experience of my short life to date and it has been my saving grace over COVID. I guess what I am trying to demonstrate is the importance of service to the community and the benefit to my own mental health. I now know that one quiet act of heartfelt kindness can inspire others to also act. Together, the overall impact becomes exponential.
I acknowledge that rescuing dogs isn’t going to end climate change, cure cancer, stop school shootings or change the world in any Nobel Peace Prize-worthy way, but it does unquestionably change the world forever for each and every one of those dogs, and that is a pretty empowering feeling for this teenaged quarantined girl.
If you are interested in fostering or want to adopt, contact Mutt Scouts Dog Rescue at muttscouts.org.
—Maddison Joyce writes on behalf of the Alvarado Estates Association.