The Editor: Share the love – foster a shelter pet

by Jo Anne Embleton
Lilly, my foster fail from County Roads Rescue. 

Embleton family photo Lilly, my foster fail from County Roads Rescue. Embleton family photo

As a kid growing up in South Texas, it wasn’t unusual for my siblings and I to conduct kitten- and puppy-swapping sessions with our friends – or convincing our grandparents they needed a new cow dog or barn cat – to ensure a home for these critters, because in the early 1970s, spay-neuter wasn’t widely embraced and we were expected to be re-sponsible pet owners.

Fast forward to today: I no longer have access to my grandparents’ farm, and my friends here in East Texas are busy trying to help find homes for the numerous crea-tures dumped throughout Cherokee County and left to fend for themselves. But I’m hoping that with encouragement, the community will consider fostering such animals until they can be either adopted locally or get their Freedom Ride to another part of the country, where residents clamor to adopt.

My own journey began in 2020, with Lillith, a purebred American bulldog discovered by County Roads Rescue. My best guess is that she was a breeder dog who served her purpose and was in danger of being turned into a bait dog by people with bad intent, because her body was damaged.

Still, she had the sweetest disposition ever, and was the happiest little girl you’d ever met. One of the volunteers from the shelter said they’d take her home at night because she would cry from wanting to be around people. She was an older dog, so I offered to help. That didn’t last long, though: I fell in love completely, adopting her about two weeks later, much to the teasing of my friends, who said I was a “foster fail.”

Since then, my sweet girl has passed away, but there have been a handful of other dogs who have stayed with me, and honestly, this is hands-down the best thing I’ve ever done because for a little while, these dogs get the love and attention (and dare I say it? Spoiling) they need.

As we head into a season of colder weather, area shelters are concerned about being able to provide homes for dumped dogs and cats, especially since their facilities are filled to the brim, and offers to foster are a godsend for them. For folks (like seniors) who are on limited incomes and would like a pet but cannot afford to keep one full-time, fostering might be the perfect solution, as the shelter/rescue provides medical care, foods and meds that are funded by donations from the community.

If you’re not sure of taking on a younger animal, they’ve got you covered there, as well: Shelters have pets ranging in age from abandoned babies needing extra care and bottle feeding, to those who are in their golden years, and in need of one final loving family and home to share. There is no wrong choice, when you consider the options.

If you are not in a position to open your home to a pet, I beg of you to seriously con-sider help to replenish supplies with either purchases or monetary donations. Or to help volunteer at the shelters however you are able. Or donate to the veterinary hospi-tals/clinics that work with shelters so that the cost of medicine, shots or medical proce-dures can be off-set for both shelter and fosterer.

That may not seem a lot, but in reality, it’s everything to a shelter doing its best to en-sure these animals get the best care possible as they wait for a new chapter to begin.

Rescues and shelters in and around the county include:

• County Roads Rescue, 601 Woodlawn Ave., Jacksonville, TX 75766. Contact director Dava Cooley-Cook at 903-284-5321 or

• Bella’s Heart, 3918 County Road 3305 Jacksonville Texas 75766. Executive director Stephanie Hassell may be contacted at 903-721-4818 or visit

• Chelsea’s Chariot 2nd Chance and Rescue of Jacksonville, TX 75766. Contact Phil or Michelle Hise at 281-964-9714 or to help. Or visit

• BARC, The Humane Society site located at 335 Amory Road in Palestine TX 75803, may be reached by calling 903-729-8074. Or visit to learn more.

• Nicholas Pet Haven, 12903 State Highway 155 South, Tyler TX 75703. Call 903-630-4242 or email to learn more.