California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Senior Maddy Barbello shares her passion for fostering dogs

Photo contributed by Maddy Barbello
Senior Maddy Barbello said fostering is important because taking dogs out of the shelters they have been in for long helps prevent them from getting euthanized.

When she is not working, senior Maddy Barbello finds time to foster dogs to support her love for animals. 

Barbello works with two organizations whenever she fosters; Wags and Walks and Bark n’ Bitches. She said she started fostering shortly after the first COVID-19 spike passed, around 2021 and 2022. 

“Well, I am a busy college student, like we all are, and I love dogs, but I can’t have my own because that would just be unfair for the dog because I’m never home. I’m always doing stuff,” Barbello said. “So I decided to foster to get that fix if you would, of having a dog and taking care of a dog, but not having to commit to it long-term.” 

Barbello said the foster period is normally about two weeks, so she picks a couple of weeks when she knows she is not traveling or working as much and dedicates that time to the dog. 

The two organizations are operated very differently, Barbello said. Bark n’ Bitches is fully foster-based and they do not have a rescue center, whereas Wags and Walks does, so they do not rely on fosters as much. 

Erica Gately, director of animal placement at Wags and Walks, creates relationships with shelters and independent rescuers to decide which dogs they are going to take in each week, then figures out which dogs are best suited for the center and which are better in foster homes.

“Our organization helps the communities around us through physical rescue and education. We are working tirelessly to minimize the homeless dog population by taking dogs out of shelters and off the streets, but we are also doing everything we can to educate the public about dog rescue and its importance,” Gately said.

Barbello said she found Wags and Walks from her parents, as that is where they adopted her two family dogs, while she fell in love with Bark n’ Bitches after seeing them on Instagram. 

Barbello said she started with Wags and Walks by volunteering. Whenever she has a few hours to spare, she volunteers at their rescue center in Los Angeles, takes the dogs out for walks, cleans up if there are accidents, or spends time with them in the play area.

“You can sign them out almost like daycare and take them for a hike if you want, so I’ve done that a few times,” Barbello said. “That’s what’s really cool about Wags and Walks, they’re a little bit more structured.”

Barbello said with Bark n’ Bitches, it is a one, maybe two-woman team, fully based out of people’s houses. She said they do not have a center where volunteers can come, but they bring the dogs to either events or farmer’s markets sometimes.

According to the Bark n’ Bitches website, the organization opened in 2006, and they are committed to “fueling their passion and helping dogs in need.” 

For Wags and Walks, Barbello is part of their foster list, where every week they send out different dogs they are pulling or dogs that already need to be placed in a foster home. 

“I like it that way because then I get to choose the dog that I’m going to get,” Barbello said. “But with Bark n’ Bitches, they’ll just text me and they’ll be like, ‘Hey, are you available for two weeks, three weeks?’, whatever it is, and give me any dog.”

Barbello said some foster homes typically do a longer-term process, so people can have the dogs for months and months. With a schedule like hers, she said the dogs usually come to her for the time between the shelter and the rescue. 

“I love animals, sometimes more than people,” Barbello said. “I just feel, because I’m a college student, I don’t have a ton of money, so I don’t always have money to donate to these organizations that I’m passionate about. So, it fulfills me to know that I am doing what I can when I can, and potentially saving a dog’s life by just letting it live in my house for a couple weeks.”

Barbello said fostering is important because taking dogs out of the shelters they have been in for long helps prevent them from getting euthanized. She said as long as there are fosters, rescues and people that are pulling the dogs from the shelter, fewer dogs are dying in the community. 

“Whenever I get my own place and have my own space, I plan to do this like, forever. It’s so amazing,” Barbello said. 

Gately said Wags and Walks’ goal has always been to show people that you can rescue any dog you want and to prove to people that rescue dogs are not damaged goods. 

“They are just as kind, beautiful, smart and silly as a dog you’d get from a breeder,” Gately said.

Barbello said she would tell those considering fostering that the process is so rewarding. 

“You just feel so important for something that is also a great experience,” Barbello said. “One thing that is hard is giving the dogs away. So, if you get attached to the dogs or get possessive over them, it’s hard to give them away. But, overall, it’s a really great experience and I think everybody should do it at least once in their life.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Echo Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *