Get to know Founding Member, Kelly Duer in this week’s feature interview!
Foster Program Consultant
Maddie's Fund Foster Care Specialist
Tell us about you and your history in animal welfare.
KD: I’m a foster program consultant from Fairfax, Virginia. I started out on the human side of foster care, visiting orphanages in Eastern Europe and then coordinating a program that brought orphaned children to the U.S. from Colombia and Russia. I got into animal welfare while doing behavioral foster care for dogs at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter. Assisting with the program and the resulting study taught me a lot about adult dog foster care, and I’ve been able to use this knowledge in my work. Over the last few years I’ve had the opportunity to work with various shelters and organizations around the nation including Austin Animal Center, Pima Animal Care Center, Best Friends Animal Society in Houston and Maddie’s Fund.
What are you most proud of in your career?
KD: I’m probably most proud of my work fostering dogs during the Fairfax behavioral foster study, because that’s where it all began. If we’d just been able to save one dog it would have been worth it, but to think that it would, three years later, be saving dogs in shelters as far away as California still boggles my mind. I get teary thinking about it.
Can you tell us more about your involvement and role in the Behavioral Foster Study in Fairfax?
KD: I was involved in the Fairfax Behavioral Study in a number of ways. My family fostered 18 of the dogs from the study and I helped Kristen Auerbach build the program and assisted with some of the study tasks, such as getting data and calling adopters.
Name something related to shelters and animal welfare that you are super passionate about and want others to learn about?
KD: I’m super passionate about short-term foster programs. There are so many reasons why they’re great for shelter and rescue organizations: it’s easy for a potential foster to commit to a shorter time period. Many people aren’t able to foster long-term, so they open your program up to a lot of new fosters. Studies show that just one overnight can decrease a dog’s stress levels significantly, and the behavior of dogs can improve measurably during just one field trip off the shelter’s grounds. Organizations learn so much more about the pets in their care when they can get to know them outside the facility. Photos, videos and stories from short-term foster are a great way to market pets for adoption, as potential adopters want to know what a pet might be like in their home. Short-term foster programs are a great way for shelters and rescues to engage with their communities as well.
Tell us something about yourself people might be surprised to learn.
KD: My husband and I adopted two older children from Colombia in 2006, via the program I was coordinating. They’re now in their twenties. My daughter’s interest in working with animals is the main reason we began volunteering and fostering at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter.
Who is your “animal welfare crush”?
KD: I am truly blessed to have been able to work with two of my animal welfare heroes, Tawny Hammond and @KristenAuerbach. I wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for their tutelage. I’m also incredibly inspired by the visionary work of Dr. @Ellen Jefferson of Austin Pets Alive! What she’s done with APA! is literally changing the face of animal welfare.
Thank you for the interview and all the amazing work you do, Kelly!
To learn more about the Fairfax Behavior Foster Study, here's a link to Kristen Auerbach's webcast: Innovative Fostering Saving More Dogs with Behavioral Challenges
Or read more in these additional articles:
We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know via ASPCApro.org
Shelter Dog Foster Study via Barkpost.com
-- The big dog holding the little dachshund is Hank, who was adopted by Kelly's parents (and their senior dog, Penny)!
Also, be sure to join Kelly on August 16th at 10AM PT for "Join the #GetEmHomeChallenge" free webcast where our Foster Care Specialist will walk you through the ins, outs, ups, downs, and sideways-es of how to get started in finding your long-stay pets a forever home. Plus you'll learn more about Maddie's Fund's #GetEmHomeChallenge where we'll be awarding more than $50,000 in grants after a 3-month period for getting dogs and cats who have been in the shelter for 30 days or more adopted.#fosterprogramconsultant#foundingmemberspotlight#fostercarespecialist#foundingmemberfriday#fostercareprograms#fairfaxbehavioralstudy#behavioralfosterstudy#shorttermfoster#FosterPrograms#foundingmember
Click here to register for the free 60 minute webcast