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Meet the Fosters: June is both National Foster Pet Month and Pride Month, a perfect alignment for dedicated fosters and newly weds Shannon and Amanda

Posted on Friday, June 28, 2024
Pair of photos featuring two young women holding kittens they've fostered, in the lower right is the text "Meet the Fosters"

Shannon Enders and Amanda Myrick are dedicated Richmond SPCA foster care volunteers who share their foster journey on the Instagram account @richmondfosterkittens. The joy of their recent nuptials along with the fact that June is both Foster a Pet Month and Pride Month inspired a Q&A with the couple who were happy to talk about how they got involved, the support they receive from our foster team, and the challenges and importance of goodbyes.

How did you get involved in fostering? 

Amanda signed up online to become a foster soon after relocating to Richmond.

We initially started fostering together when we lived in Norfolk, Virginia through the Portsmouth SPCA. We moved to Richmond in August 2022 and quickly researched local shelters and stumbled upon the Richmond SPCA. A few clicks on their website later — without Shannon even realizing what I was doing — we were all signed up to foster and pick up our first litter of kittens. 

Whose idea was it? Were you equally interested in getting involved?

It was Amanda‘s idea initially, she has grown up with cats and fostered prior to us beginning dating. I, Shannon, was incredibly enthusiastic when she mentioned the idea.

Shannon says she was “incredibly enthusiastic” when her partner suggested fostering.

Who was the first foster pet (or litter) you took home? 

Our first litter in Norfolk was two 6-week-old kittens named Bean and Goose. They were so much fun and jumpstarted our love of fostering. Goose was adopted by Shannon’s mother, and we actually flew her to Florida, which was quite the adventure. Our first litter in Richmond was Bandit, Buzz and Basil, three adorable tabby boys. Two of these kittens were adopted by friends and we still get update pictures today. They have gotten huge!

Was there anything you were nervous about?

In the beginning, we were nervous about caring for sick or injured animals. We then realized quickly that the foster team and veterinary staff at the Richmond SPCA are on top of it. If you have any concerns for any of your kittens, there is always someone you can contact no matter the time of day. This provided us a great sense of relief when dealing with sick or injured cats and kittens.

Some potential fosters worry they’ll become too attached and not be able to say goodbye at the end of the foster period. What advice do you have for preparing for a foster to be adopted by someone else? 

This is a great and valid question. We found multiple ways to cope. When fostering kittens specifically, it is such a celebration when they get to their appropriate weight and have passed all of their milestones. We always try to make an effort to celebrate this and our weeks together. Kittens get adopted very quickly from the Richmond SPCA, which always makes us feel so much better knowing that they are in their forever homes quickly. We often visit the shelter the day after they get spayed and neutered so we can say hi to the kittens and see that they recovered well from surgery.

We also run an Instagram that recounts our foster experiences with the kittens. We have gotten multiple adopters through this. We have found that when we know where the kittens are going after they are adopted it makes it so much easier. We also love getting updated pictures throughout their life. This is by no means a requirement for fostering, you are not responsible for finding the animals homes, it is just something we love to do.

The easiest way we have to get over saying goodbye to the kittens is to never leave the shelter empty-handed. We oftentimes schedule a pickup for the next foster bunch the same day that we drop off the old foster bunch. Some may call us crazy for this.

When fostering adults or special needs cats sometimes they stay in the shelter for a longer time. We make efforts to visit them while they are in the shelter, and ask the adoption staff to contact us when they get adopted. Those phone calls are always the best phone calls! 

What has been your favorite fostering experience? 

We had the privilege to foster a mom and seven Maine Coon kittens from 10 days old to 8 weeks old. They had a rough start to life, however, we were able to get them healthy, big and playful quickly. They were the coolest animals to watch grow as they started off with their eyes just barely open and ears folded over to truly magnificent kittens when they were 8 weeks old. We also got the privilege to become friends with quite a few of their forever families. Even better: The majority of them were polydactyl. We did foster fail from this group and now have a 9-month-old very large orange Maine Coon with 27 toes.

What kind of support have you received from the Richmond SPCA staff and/or other volunteers? 

Support is not something that lacks at the Richmond SPCA. The foster staff is there at all hours to answer questions, give advice and support you. I consider Kelsey, Jenna and Mark friends of ours and really appreciate the now years of love and support from them. The foster care team even gave us the cutest wedding gift that our fur-kids were very excited about. There is also a foster care Facebook page where you can ask other foster parents tips, tricks and advice. You can also just post pictures for fun and see what other groups are doing.

How do your own pets respond when you bring home a foster? 

Our pets, especially our dog, absolutely love when we bring in fosters. They now know the look of the distinctive Richmond SPCA carriers and always get the privilege of sniffing the carrier before the kittens get put into their room. It has been special to see because our dog is very dog-aggressive, but she has a complete soft spot in her heart for cats and kittens of all sorts. 

Your own foster journey can start right now! Register to foster and begin our online training.

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