Two foster caregivers are key to one dog’s success



As the country continues to face the COVID-19 pandemic, foster carers and foster families continue to accommodate vulnerable animals in ways that benefit the animals, their guardians and shelters.

Eileen Hanavan, ASPCA’s director of volunteer and foster services, says the ASPCA has raised the number of animals raised by 70 percent. Growth has been seen in operations in New York and Los Angeles in 2020, an act of compassion that she calls “heroic.”

Demonstrating this heroism, two different caregivers adopted Zoe, a five-year-old Alaskan malamute suffering from irritable bowel disease and pancreatitis. The caregivers provided her with medications, socialization, and lots of affection over a five month period.

Zoe with foster carersZoe with her foster teachers Mekenzie (left) at the University of Virginia, Mekenzie’s alma mater, and right, with Sasha at Karl Schurz Park in Manhattan.

From abandoned to adored

Back in April, Zoe was found abandoned, tied to a boardwalk in New York during the first wave of the pandemic. The NYPD officers who found Zoe took her to the ASPCA.

Zoe gets the attention of a licensed veterinary technician at the ASPCA Animal Recovery Center.Zoey gets the attention of Susan Lee, a licensed veterinarian at the ASPCA Animal Recovery Center.

The next month, Mekenzie S. took Zoey as foster care. As days turned into months, the two grew closer, and Mekenzie often showed off her 75-pound bag of love. She also enjoyed flaunting Zoe’s outgoing personality during video calls with her mother, Lynn, who lives in Florida.

“The entire time I had Zoe, until early August, I didn’t want to bring her back, even though I knew I couldn’t keep her,” says Mekenzie, an assistant producer for the cable news program, who is currently working remotely. “When I return to work, I will not be at home all the time. I was aware of my limitations, but I wanted to have a hand in what she was in. “

Zoe with Mekenzie and Michael at UVALeft: Zoe with Mackenzie and Michael at UVA; right: with Mekenzie and Karina Sayers of the ASPCA Animal Recovery Center.

When Mekenzie’s time with Zoe ended, another foster caregiver, Sasha K., came over to take care of Zoe.

Like Mekenzie, Sasha worked from home during the pandemic. A lifelong dog lover, she raised a dog through another organization and wanted to raise her again. On her birthday, August 6, she saw a photo of Zoe in an ASPCA email. The next day, Sasha stopped by for her.

“I liked waking up and going out with her every morning,” says Sasha. “She sat under my desk during calls and sat on my couch for hours. She loved to hug. And she reminded me of the breaks. “

Zoe and Sasha, her second foster parent Zoe and Sasha, her second tutor.

Sasha also learned how loyal and bonded Malamutes are to their guardians and appreciates getting to know the breed.

“I really felt Zoe’s loyalty,” she says. “During our time together, we learned each other’s daily routines. She also helped me get to know my area – I talked to people on the street and in the park. I found out who my neighbors are. Having her was a wonderful part of my summer. “

On October 1, Sasha brought Zoe back to the ASPCA, just before traveling to St. Louis to visit her parents.

Zoe in profile

Adoptive parent

Meanwhile, Mekenzie never stopped thinking about Zoe and finally convinced her mother Lynn to adopt the brave dog.

“She needed a companion,” says Mekenzie. “And she knew she could provide this home for Zoe.”

Mekenzie's mother, Lynn, adopted Zoe. Mekenzie’s mother, Lynn, adopted Zoe.

“In the end, Mekenzie broke me,” says Lynn, an elementary school teacher who recently returned to work and previously owned two bovine mastiffs. “When I saw her while talking to Mekenzie, deep down I thought about adopting her.”

Just prior to making Zoe’s formal adoption, Lynn communicated via Zoom on October 12th.® with ASPCA Matchmaker Stacey Rosell and ARC Medical Director Dr. Daniel Armato. They looked at Zoe’s medical concerns in depth, including allaying Lynn’s concerns about Zoe’s exposure to the Florida heat.

Zoe pampers treatsZoe balances with the treats her guardians offer her at the ASPCA Animal Recovery Center.

A thousand miles home

Mekenzie and her boyfriend Michael R. decided to take Zoe from New York to South Florida, where she quickly adapted.

“She adapted very well,” says Lynn. “She loves meeting people and is thrilled when I walk through the door.”

At the moment, Mekenzie and her adopted French Bulldog Nut remain in Florida with her mother. Nute gets along so well with Zoe that Lynn is considering adopting another dog after Mekenzie and Nute return to New York.

Zoe and Nut in Florida. Zoe and Nut in Florida.

Zoey’s health problems are being successfully addressed with long-term medication and she is in good physical shape in her new home.

“She loves to go out, loves the beach, knows how to take with her and in general, just a wonderful companion,” says Lynn. “I do not regret anything.

Sasha, Zoe’s second adopted son, is very happy that Zoe was adopted by Mekenzie’s mother, and has been in contact with them since Zoe’s adoption.

For potential educators, Sasha offers this advice: “Don’t overdo it. You may worry that it will be difficult to give up your pet when your time is up, but the time together is very valuable. “

Zoe on the beach

Like other animal welfare organizations, the ASPCA now offers remote or socially distant adoption and online video conferencing to help animals find a home. To find a pet at a local shelter or rescue organization in their area, prospective adoptive parents and those looking to raise them can visit

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