We could not do the work we do without the amazing volunteers that help us through fostering, transporting, fundraising, and so much more. This month our guest writer Nomi Berger profiles Karla and her family, who are active volunteers on Vancouver Island.
For Karla, it started with two simple words: “Come play.”
The event was Pits in the Park, and Karla and Erin, her husband-to-be, obligingly brought their two dogs to the park to play. “It was an awesome experience,” she recalls as if it was yesterday. “Being with other pit bull owners, people who knew what it meant to own and love them while being aware of the myths and stereotyping surrounding them.” She herself had long ago fallen in love with the breed because, as she says, “they are the most loyal, sociable, squish-able dogs I’ve ever come across.”
She soon began volunteering for HugABull at various events, then helped out with home checks, and in June 2013, she and Erin fostered their first HugABull dog. His name was Gerry, and although he came to them “raw”, by the time he was adopted six months later, he was not only well mannered and well behaved, but he also knew no end of great tricks.
Why did the couple choose to foster pit bulls? The answer is simple. “There are so many dogs in shelters who are closer to being euthanized than being adopted,” explains an impassioned Karla. “They are there through no fault of their own and they deserve better. They not only deserve to be loved, but they deserve a second chance at having a whole new life. Without enough temporary foster homes available, rescue groups like HugABull simply can’t save enough of them.”
And to Karla, nothing is better than “breaking a dog out of a shelter.” Once these dogs are safe in foster care, they are gradually able to leave the stress of shelter life behind and learn, as part of a normal, everyday environment, to become the dogs they were meant to be.
For their part, fosters act as the eyes and ears of rescue. They discover their particular dogs’ likes and dislikes, quirks and habits. They coax shy ones out of their shells, turn weaknesses into strengths, and work on preparing them for their eventual adoption.
“What’s so rewarding about fostering,” Karla explains, “is seeing how, with time and attention, patience and energy, these dogs bloom before your eyes. Letting go is hard, but seeing them leave for their forever home is truly worth it. We love the updates! It warms our hearts to see them so happy and doing so well.”
The couple has fostered three pit bulls since Gerry — one at a time – with their own two pits, Bebe and Little Miss, welcoming them easily into their home and into their space. All of them, Gerry, Teddy, Cole, and now Freedom, have been different, goofy and utterly lovable in their own ways.
“Being a part of HugABull has opened my eyes to many things,” concludes Karla. “It’s educated me. It’s changed the way I think and do things with my own dogs. But most of all, it’s allowed me to change people’s minds about pit bulls. And I LOVE that!”
Written by Nomi Berger