Foster program brings shelter dogs to fire stations

Foster program brings shelter dogs to fire stations

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis' Animal Services and Fire Department are collaborating on a possibly first-of-its-kind program. It’s called Firefighter fosters--foster animals are housed at fire stations before they head to their next home.

The first dog to participate it this program is 2-year-old Juice. Juice is living a typical life. He has a yard to play in, and caregivers who love him. Except all this is happening at Fire Station 20 on Lauderdale Road.

“The firefighters love him,” Memphis Fire Services Director Gina Sweat said. “From my understanding he greets everyone at the door, and he even helped the chief with some paper work yesterday.”

Memphis Fire and Memphis Animal Services said they have been trying to figure out a way they could work together for a while.

“We realized what a perfect fit,” Memphis Animal Services Director Alexis Pugh said. “Firefighter fosters. These guys are living here on 24 hour a day shifts, so he's never left here alone. He's got constant company.”

Juice will stay at the fire house for two to three weeks. He is part of MAS’s transfer program. He’ll be transferred to a shelter in Michigan where overcrowding is less of an issue.

Just in the last 10 days, MAS has taken in 319 animals.

“We’ve been begging, pleading and asking for help from our community because we’ve had so many animals coming in, and not enough kennels to house them,” Pugh said. “What a great example, Juice is no longer taking up a kennel.”

Pugh and Sweat said they haven’t come across another program like this in the country. Sweat is getting calls from departments across the nation about the program, which only began this week.

This program is only in its pilot stage, so there are things to figure out. For now, it seems to be going pretty well for both firefighters and dog.

“There's nothing better than a dog wagging its tail happy to see you to boost your morale,” Sweat said. “I think it's going to be a great partnership.”

Sweat said a second station will get a foster dog this week.

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