Lorene Cross, the SMART volunteers, and their adorable adoption animals are all familiar faces in the Tumut region.
And yet, in the whole Snowy Valleys, they only have two foster carers to help them look after the dogs they rescue.
It sounds like a dream gig. You get a dog (or two), hungry for love, for free, with vaccinations all taken care of and the option to return it if it doesn’t work out. There’s no long-term responsibility, as you only look after each dog until it finds a forever home. If you already have a dog, you have access to an endless stream of new friends for it. If you go on holidays you can drop the dog back to the SMART shelter until you come back, for free, and if there are any vet bills SMART also foots the bill. It’s all the upsides to owning a pet, with basically none of the downsides.
But for whatever reason, people just don’t want to get involved.
“We have anywhere up to 50 dogs at one time, and we’re desperate for foster carers,” said SMART founder Lorene Cross.
“We’ve got two in Tumut. None in Gundagai, none in Batlow, none in Tumbarumba.”
Pet dogs are a good way to start teaching children about responsibility, and they’re also proven to help with depression and loneliness. However, one of the best reasons to become a foster carer is that you will be saving lives.
“When we are chockers we are chockers, and we are just screaming out,” said Lorene.
“We don’t euthanise, we’re a no-kill shelter – but if these cages are full, I can’t get any more. So dogs are dying in pounds. If we can get them out to foster, then we can go out to pounds and get some more.”
So far, she hasn’t had any negative reviews from foster carers. In fact, the biggest cause of people opting out is that they fall in love with their first dog, and don’t want to give it up in exchange for a new one.
There are also other ways to help out with this organisation that is completely self-funded: “The only other thing we need is people to come out and help with cleaning and feeding,” said Lorene.
“Badly. When it’s full up here it’s a lot of work. Cleaning, feeding, walking dogs. Just sitting having cuddles.”
It seems unfathomable that it would be a challenge to find people to cuddle dogs, but there you have it. That is the dilemma SMART is facing.
To get involved, contact Lorene Cross on 0428491492, or message ‘SMART animal sanctuary & rehoming centre’ on Facebook.