Paige Ferrier, Regional Pet Care Support at Wood Green, The Animals Charity.
Paige talks about her role supporting fosterers and giving animals the chance of a new life.
“I used to be veterinary nurse but I’ve worked for Wood Green for two years helping to support our fosterers, who really are the life of the charity. By taking animals into their homes, not only do they enable us to take more animals into our shelters but they help those that need extra love and attention and give us a proper understanding of what an animal is like, which is so important for rehoming.
I currently have a foster kitten called Buttercup with a prolapsed bum, as well as two of my own cats – one ex-feral. In the future I’m planning to concentrate on fostering so I can open my home to whatever animal needs me most.
A typical day...
…I check my emails and work phone first thing and prioritise my day. It always involves speaking with fosterers. I could be making sure they know their latest animal’s likes and dislikes before they receive them, offering advice on a problem or chasing them for a health or behavioural update. I might also book vet appointments, arrange for drivers to bring an animal on-site for a check-up, look at requests for re-homing or speak with my team to assess what fosterer we think would be best for which animal. I’m in a pilot role, looking at expanding our fosterer network further from our site at Godmanchester, but because of Covid-19 I haven’t been able to get out into the community to recruit new fosterers.
The best thing...
…Is when you see an animal blossom under a fosterer’s care. I’ll never forget a dog we had called Wolfie, whose owners started working longer hours and couldn’t look after him anymore. He was so stressed from being in our kennels that he injured himself trying to get out. I got the courage to ask a fairly new fosterer to take him on and with a lot of love and care he turned into an amazing dog. He now lives with a lovely lady on the south coast and walks on the beach every day. Without that fosterer he may not have had a chance at a second life.
The hardest thing...
… is not being able to find the right fosterer for an animal and this happens with dogs in particular. We must make sure fosterers have the right environment and are comfortable with the animal’s needs. Often dogs really struggle with kennel life and it’s heart breaking when there’s nothing you can do and you could make them worse by putting them in the wrong foster home.
People don’t realise what a commitment fostering animals is but our recruitment process is lengthy so people are fully aware before they begin. We ask for at least a year’s commitment, they undergo rigorous training and we require regular updates and detailed assessments on each pet.
Often it’s just a case of looking after pets, getting them used to being handled or socialising them. Common behavioural issues for dogs include reacting badly to other dogs. These are a high priority to get of out of our kennels so we train fosterers to be able to train them to cope better. Cat behavioural issues are usually caused by environmental changes – children being introduced for example – so we get them into a calm space with an experienced fosterer and usually the bad behaviour goes away. Fosterers also take animals with medical issues, or older ones that don’t get adopted quickly.
Donations to Wood Green...
… are spent helping animals on their journey to being homed, whether it’s on vital enrichment toys for a cat, training tools for a dog or medication for a rabbit. All our animals are seen by a vet and microchipped or vaccinated if they need it. We rely so much on donations and on our 140 fosterers – plus staff.