Kaitlyn Thomas is the foster coordinator for the Maryland SPCA. She’s also my friend and a classmate from our years at McDaniel College. She’s an advocate for animal welfare and a pretty good boss. This work isn’t just her career path, it’s also one of her life’s biggest passions. In 2016, her apartment was ransacked in a robbery. Aside from the violation of having her items picked through by a stranger, they also made off with her best friend — her pit bull mix, Knox. She immediately launched her initiative, #FindingKnox, to leverage the reach of social media to find her friend.
Fortunately, this story had a happy ending with Knox being returned, found tied to a tree just down the street from Kaitlyn’s apartment. She theorizes that the burglars took him to sell or breed but were unable to be seen publicly with him, given the publicity of #FindingKnox. Since then, she continues to use Finding Knox as a platform to engage in community outreach and humane education.
I took a Friday to use the volunteer time that Duckpin offers to spend a day with Kaitlyn at the MD SPCA. I used the time to help her get organized so that she can continue facilitating the foster care program. The environment of the shelter isn’t always the best place for our furry friends to be long-term, especially those who have health issues. Fostering gets them in comfortable homes where they can be better cared for and prepared for adoption.
I started the day in Kaitlyn’s office, drafting and sending an email to all the recent applicants to the foster program. At MD SPCA, they’re looking for specific people who have the right temperament, experience, and home environment. It’s also beneficial when people are willing to foster animals that require special care, like bottle feeding.
My next duty took me over to the foster care closet. It’s a small space packed with pet essentials, including food, toys, leashes, and more. It was a mess. They had just had a mega transport of animals, which required a bevy of supplies to equip the influx. Luckily for me, all the shelves and containers were clearly labeled and assembled as a gift from a previous volunteer. At that point, I just had to come in and place supplies in their rightful home. I also took a few trips out to a separate garage where stacks of Hill’s® Science Diet® pet food is stored to replenish the closet.
While Kaitlyn and I waited for lunch to arrive, I tried my hand at engraving tags for the animals in the foster program. Well, it wasn’t actually by hand. They have a nifty machine that allows you to type in what you want to be engraved and wait while the magic happens. As often as the animals come and go through the program, it’s important to have a good amount ready and available.
Right before we ate, I got the full MD SPCA tour. For the most part, it’s a fully self-sufficient operation. We walked through the areas where pets that are ready to be adopted hang out in their own stalls. They also have medical facilities for the ones that need specialized care and other procedures. Finally, I ended the day back on the computer, filling in some adoption flyer templates with the information of a few dogs and cats that are ready for permanent homes.
If you’re interested in fostering animals, contact the MD SPCA here.