According to local resident Teresa Gates, fostering a shelter dog brings joy and the satisfaction of saving a dog's life while preparing them for adoption.

"By fostering dogs, I feel happy that I can step in and help them adjust to living outside the shelter again. And give lots of individual attention that they crave. When I adopt a dog, I'm only helping one. By fostering, I hope to help many shelter dogs find permanent homes. Giving them a transition from the shelter is a great way for them to adjust before permanent adoption," she said. “Also, fostering a dog gives one more space at the shelter for another homeless dog."

In fostering one agrees to temporarily care for the animal while it is transitioning to a permanent home.

Gates began her love of dogs 14 years ago, after a series of stray dogs found their way into her heart and home. This year she suffered the loss of both of her two dogs. "They died pretty close together, and it was just traumatic," she said.  During this time, she was also volunteering for the SNYP Arkansas Animal Shelter in Clinton. She started there last year just walking dogs in her spare time. "They always need volunteers to walk dogs since they do not have a big fenced in area to run in," Gates said, "and I thought it would be good for me to walk, too."

Gates came to know many of the dogs there and after losing her pups at home, she met Cleo.

"Cleo is a 4 year-old Anatolian Shepherd / Great Pyrenees mix. She's very calm. I agreed to foster Cleo, because I thought it would give me an opportunity to tiptoe back into having a dog again. She was brought to the shelter as a stray. The shelter discovered she was pregnant and all of us thought there was time for me to rebuild her strength before she delivered. We were wrong."

About a week after moving Cleo to Gates' house and barn, Cleo gave birth to eight pups. There are six males and two females, all doing well.

"She is such a good mother and keeps their bedding very clean," Gates said. "She is very protective of her litter and they are all doing just great. I hope to get to know more about her personality after the pups are grown, but right now she is focused on them all the time," she said.

SNYP Arkansas Animal Shelter has issued a plea to the community for volunteers to foster dogs for a specific time in January and February.

"We are asking the public to step forward and help us by fostering dogs starting now or especially in mid-January, while I am on medical leave," Lori Treat, Shelter Director and SNYP founder said. "I will be gone for four to six weeks, so we need fosters till mid or late February. I am there regularly for a large part of the week taking care of dogs," she said.

"Our few volunteers are already stretched to the limit. There are no paid staff in this shelter, we are all volunteers," Treat said.

Anyone who can foster a dog between Jan. 18 to Feb. 16 (or longer) is asked to call Lori Treat at 501-745-7697.

"We ask that you provide a contained area for the dog so they won't get loose and get lost. We provide all the food, medicine and vet visits as needed. But we need you to watch over them at least during the time I'm gone," Treat said, "and give them the individual attention that they truly need."

"I hope the shelter can find other people who will try fostering. It's a huge need right now and the dogs deserve all the help we can give them. Fostering Cleo and the puppies has brought such joy to our home," Gates said.