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‘Imperfectly Perfect’: Foster’s Failures Praise Huntsville Shelter Pets

Giving someone a second chance at life can be a rewarding experience, but so can the dozens of animals brought to Huntsville Animal Services (HAS) each week.

“Some weeks are worse than others,” HAS director Dr Karen Sheppard said. “We regularly ask the community to support us, and adoption and fostering are the best ways to help.”


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Fortunately, there are always positive results to share. In 2021, more than 5,200 animals were brought to HAS and more than 5,100 were either adopted, fed, picked up by an owner or transferred to a rescue group. Has invites the public to help celebrate these efforts on April 30, which is National Adopt-a-Shelter Pet Day.

“Our 95% savings rate is not just a testament to our staff and volunteers, but also to those willing to open their hearts and homes to a dog or cat,” Sheppard said. .

Christopher’s story

Colett Robinson cradles Zola, a mixed-breed dog she adopted from Huntsville Animal Services.

Colett Robinson and her husband, Lance, are examples of those who have opened their hearts and their homes. They are also known as “foster failures”, which means they eventually adopt a dog they adopt.

Although they live in County Limestone, Colett Robinson said she felt the need to adopt from HAS because they had more dogs than their local shelter. They adopted Zola, a great half-breed from HAS in November 2020, but decided to go into foster care in January 2022.

“We weren’t sure if we could add another dog, but then we met Christopher,” said Colett Robinson, adding that he had been with HAS since November 2021. “We had him for about two months and we were able to get him adopted outside.Unfortunately, Christopher didn’t get along well with the other dog in the family.

Two large dogs lying together on a couch.  One is gray and the other is black.

Colett and Lance Robinson’s adopted dogs, Zola, Top and Christopher, lay together on a sofa.

Christopher returned to HAS, but soon returned with the Robinsons.

“We are so in love with him that we make him part of the family,” Robinson said.

When asked what National Adopt a Pet Day means from a shelter, she simply replied, “it says it all.”

“Love of shelter is imperfectly perfect,” she said. “These dogs all come with a few quirks, but they are so perfect. Their love is unconditional.

Violet’s story

A woman holds a white cat with crossed eyes.  The woman wears a black shirt and has gray hair.

Julie Patton holds Viola, a cat she raised at Huntsville Animal Services who she eventually adopted.

Like the Robinsons, Julie Patton is a failed foster family. Her cat, Viola, was rescued as a kitten by an animal control officer last spring. Although she had two other cats, Patton took her in.

This wasn’t the first time Patton had taken in cats during “kitten season,” a time in the spring and summer when the shelter welcomes a greater number of young cats.

“Normally when you adopt kittens, (HAS) doesn’t expect you to keep them,” Patton said. “They want them to be with other cats to learn how to groom and play so they can be adopted.”

One of Patton’s cats, Bronwyn, became attached to Viola and took her in as “his own little kitten.” Patton said it was this bond that convinced her to keep Viola.

Two cats were lying on a chair.

Julie Patton’s cats, Bronwyn, Top and Viola, lay on a chair in Patton’s house. Patton says she kept Viola at Bronwyn’s request.

Even though it’s a family failure, Patton urges others to think about it because it’s a short-term commitment with HAS providing veterinary care, supplies and support.

As National Adopt-A-Pet Day approaches, she said Viola is now an irreplaceable part of her family.

“She just had her first birthday,” Patton said. “She has a very good life; she is in the right place.