University of Mississippi student Lilli Gordon is a foster parent who believes that fostering a pet can be an opportunity for someone to see if they are ready to have the responsibility full time.
“My roommates and I all love animals,” she said, “and we wanted to add a little excitement in our lives. We each have a pet at home, and taking care of a pet was familiar to us. We were excited to volunteer because there are a ton of animals in the state that need foster homes, and it was easy to sign up because they give you all the supplies you need.”
Animal shelters often struggle with overpopulation, but Mississippi Mutts, a nonprofit organization in Oxford, works to rescue animals in these overcrowded locations.
Emma Heasley, the Mississippi Mutts development manager, has been involved with the organization since 2017.
“I got involved with Mississippi Mutts when I fostered my first in the fall of 2017,” she said. “I ended up adopting her, and she inspired me to continue making a difference in this community with the amazing people working at the organization. I took over as social media coordinator last spring.”
Heasley organizes the volunteer service program that includes recruitment, training and coordination. She keeps everyone who is part of the organization goal-focused.
The organization is different than a regular animal shelter because it is a transport group. “Due to overpopulation in the South, we work to rescue animals here, and then transport them to adoption centers up North where there is a large demand for adoption,” she said.
Mississippi Mutts focuses on saving lives rather than getting animals adopted immediately. Although that is a goal, this organization really wants to help unwanted animals and transport them to a location where they may find loving homes.
People who volunteer to foster animals give them a second chance. “Mississippi Mutts is always looking for volunteers from the Oxford Community,” Heasley said. “We have volunteer opportunities that include helping out at events, transports and fundraisers, as well as opening your home to foster.
“Our mission is to alleviate the overpopulation of unwanted animals in shelters throughout the state by facilitating rescue, foster, transport, and adoption for homeless animals.”
Because this is a nonprofit organization, donations help. Whether they are money donations or material donations, Mississippi Mutts appreciates all.
“Without donations, we couldn’t save the lives of homeless pets,” Heasley said. “Donations allow us to provide the necessary support for the animals we are saving. We always want to provide the best medical resources for our animals and our monetary donations fully support this. Our material donations provide the foster’s homes with the necessary equipment to create a nurturing and loving environment for our foster animals.”
Donations help. So does telling friends and sharing Mississippi Mutts’ page across social media.
Gordon has learned that fostering an animal requires responsibility. “It was a lot for a college student to handle because we had to clean up their accidents, which was really often,” she said. “However, if you have the time and commitment to your animal, you will love the reward and all the affection that these animals have to offer.”
Some who foster animals end up adopting them. “Our fosters are crucial to the functioning of the organization,” she said. “Fosters open their homes and create a loving environment for the animals to be comfortable and begin to socialize.”