Belleville Area Humane Society in need of volunteers and fosters
Some of BAHS’ foster volunteers, photo courtesy of BAHS.
Belleville Area Humane Society has worked throughout the pandemic to provide care and shelter to animals in need. Now more than ever, they need the community’s help.
Belleville Area Humane Society located in Belleville, Illinois, is a limited admission, no-kill animal shelter. They are 100% donor funded and often rely on volunteers and community support to provide the best care possible for their animals.
Volunteering is the most obvious way to help, as it takes place at the shelter with the animals. Volunteers at BAHS have the opportunity to help in many different ways, including cleaning, interacting with the animals, doing laundry, walking dogs and more.
Another important program at BAHS is their foster program. BAHS staff member Melissa Janes said this is the most crucial program at the time, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The most crucial right now because of COVID is our foster program,” Janes said. “If our staff got sick, having fosters there to keep our animals for us is incredibly important.”
Amanda Roos, another BAHS staff member, compares the role of fosters to that of the volunteers at the shelter.
“Our fosters are wonderful volunteers for us, who open up their homes to take animals,” Roos said.
The goal of the foster program is to help teach important social skills to new animals and provide them a safe space to live. This is especially important for the younger animals or those with health problems, as a foster home can help ensure their health and prevent spread of disease. Fostering serves as a milestone for the animals on their way to finding a permanent home.
In order to become a foster, one must first fill out an application. BAHS staff then reviews the application, taking into consideration the foster parent’s needs and what animal would suit them.
“We do everything we can to make it a fun process for everybody that meets them where they’re at,” Janes said. “How much time they have available, what animals and children they have in the home.”
The application also has a place for potential foster parents to list their preferences, whether this be for long or short-term fosters, medical or behavioral fosters, or young or old fosters. They can also give a preference as to what type of animals they are interested in fostering.
Those who have submitted an application will have the opportunity to come to the shelter to meet potential fosters. They may also receive a foster if BAHS staff reach out to them with an animal in need of a foster home, that also matches the foster family’s preferences and needs.
A great part of BAHS’ foster program is that they provide fosters with all the supplies needed. Roos said this can include food, collars, leashes, toys, beds, litter, litter boxes and more.
Though these are the main ways to help support BAHS and the animals they serve, community members can also help by spreading the word on some of their community outreach events.
BAHS hosts multiple events throughout the year, one being a pet resource pantry in which community members in need of pet supplies can stop by the shelter to get supplies for free. BAHS relies mostly on donations through the community for this event, so those who can not volunteer their time or home can help by donating items to the shelter.
Jordan Guldner, community outreach coordinator for BAHS, said events like the pet resource pantry have made a huge impact in the last year.
“Last year was the largest year for the pantry and we passed out 105,000 meals,” Guldner said. “A lot of people would have had to surrender their pets because they couldn’t afford them.”
Helping with community outreach events through attendance, sharing posts or donating, along with volunteering or fostering, are great ways to help Belleville Area Humane Society and the animals in the Belleville community.