Finding furever friends

Students share how they found their pets


Photo by and used with the permission of Jack Rough

Sheldon, one of Jack Rough’s foster dogs. Many pets in the US are in rescue shelters or foster homes, waiting to find a loving home.

According to an American Pet Owner Survey, 70% of Americans own pets. A pet can provide companionship, comfort, laughter and more. However, not every animal is fortunate enough to have a loving family at the beginning of its life, with 6.5 million animals entering American rescue shelters every year, according to the American Society for the Prevention of cruelty to animals. This is where fostering and adopting animals can be beneficial.

Jack Rough, sophomore, has been fostering animals since 2017 after Hurricane Harvey left many animals in the south without homes. According to Rough, he and his family have fostered upwards of 20 dogs.

“[We have] had a couple litters of puppies. One litter was named after Harry Potter characters, like Alister and Minerva. We [also] had a dog named Sheldon,” Rough said.

While many people like a pet’s presence in their homes, Rough says that fostering is more complex than just taking in an animal for a while.

“[The dogs] are not trained, so they have a lot of accidents in the house,” Rough said. “A lot of them have never had an owner before so they’re not easy to walk and they can get into a lot of trouble or [get into] things they’re not supposed to.”

However, for people like Rough, who think that fostering is a challenge that they are willing to take on, there are ways to make the task more manageable.

“Do some research, for sure. There are places where you can find information about how to train dogs,” Rough said. “And be patient because they’ll learn eventually, and if you’re fostering you usually won’t have them for too long. I think the longest foster we ever had was six weeks. It’s a long process but it’s not forever.”

Maya Zalewski, sophomore, rescued her dog Bruno in an unusual way.  

“It was a really stormy night and we saw a little white dog running around in our yard,” Zalewski said. “This woman came up to our door and asked us if it was our dog and we said no, but we were nervous about it [being out in the storm]. My stepdad went out to chase the dog and we didn’t catch it, but the next morning, [Bruno] was at our door.”

When Zalewski and her family first took Bruno in, he was “skinny and malnourished, and he had fleas,” according to Zalewski. While Zalewski says that dealing with the fleas was “gross,” she believes that the difficult parts were worth it. According to Zalewski, Bruno is “ a great dog. He’s so sweet and adorable. It feels good that we saved him.”

For others who want to rescue pets, she offered advice.

“Do it,” Zalewski said. “Do it for [the animals].”

While most people choose to adopt puppies and kittens, some people, such as Sam Romero, senior, chose to adopt older animals. Romero adopted her dog Blue from a high kill shelter, which is a type of shelter that euthanizes a high percentage of their animals, four years ago when he was 13 years old.

“[Adopting Blue] was kind of a surprise to my family and me,” Romero said. “I came home from soccer practice, and my mom just had a dog.”

Even though this addition to her family was a surprise, Romero said that Blue was a welcomed addition to her family, even for the few years he was with them.

“He would have died had he stayed at the shelter, so it was good to make memories with him, and since he was old to start with, [we were] giving him a better life,” Romero said.

Even though Romero adopted a senior dog, animals of many species and ages are available at shelters in the Lake Zurich area. Romero says that if you have the opportunity, you should adopt a pet from a shelter.

“I would say to rescue animals from a shelter because you don’t know what you’re doing for the [animal],” Romero said. “You can always save a [pet’s] life, and you never know the memories you’ll have with the [animal].”