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Animal Advocate Alison Eastwood Wants to Match Volunteers with Rescues

alison eastwood dog

Clint Eastwood's daughter Alison Eastwood was fortunate to grow up with many animals. To this day the actress, director and animal advocate continues to have her own four-legged brood at her California ranch.

It is not surprising that she eventually got into the business of working with and saving animals. She founded a nonprofit animal rescue Eastwood Ranch Foundation. She was also the executive producer and host of the show Animal Intervention on Nat Geo Wild.

Alison Eastwood with father Clint Eastwood

Alison Eastwood with father Clint Eastwood

Over time she recognized a need in the rescue community—fostering and transport. That is, making it easier for rescues like hers to find suitable fosters to take in animals waiting to be adopted. Plus, being able to hook up with volunteers willing to transport animals to a foster's home or the vet or to another a rescue where the animal might have an easier time of being adopted.

Read how Subaru is helping to transport animals through its Rescue Ride grants program.

Most fostering and transporting happens via word of mouth, which means it can have a limited reach. Eastwood wanted to change all of that, so in early 2017 she launched a website called Foster Fur Kids.

"It was just born out of necessity. We realized how difficult it was to find fosters and I wanted to start a network of people," she says. "We have all of these great websites like Adopt a Pet and Petfinder, but there was no place online that put people together for fostering."

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Think of it kind of like meets Petfinder. Rather than just matching people who want to adopt an animal, it puts people together who want to be a part of the fostering or transporting community but don't know where to start. It's an online pet fostering network that connects rescue groups and animals shelters to short-term pet fosters and transporters throughout the United States.

Volunteers who visit Foster Fur Kids can create a profile, including their location, to let rescues, shelters and other organizations find them should they need a foster or help transporting animals. They can list their preferences including the type of animal they want to foster, breed, age, energy level and length of time they can commit to fostering. The rescues, shelters and other organizations can search this database to find people nearby who have volunteered to help.

That's exactly what Sheilah Aragon from Mutt Match LA did when she needed to find a foster family for a senior dog her organization had recently taken in. It was a terrier named Bernstein—Bernie for short—that she estimated was about eight years old.

"We don't like to kennel our seniors," she says. "We are out in the desert, and we don't want them out in the elements. We want them on a cozy bed."

Having just heard about Foster Fur Kids, Aragon logged on and found a family nearby that had signed up to foster. "They were literally the first people we emailed from the site," she adds. After vetting them and their home, she arranged for them to take in Bernie. "It's turned out to be great. They have another dog and two kids, and Bernie is getting exposed to dogs and kids and a family. It worked out perfectly."

It's important to note that while Foster Fur Kids does the matching, it's up to rescues like Mutt Match LA to do that aforementioned vetting of fosters and volunteer transporters.

"The whole purpose is for people to be able to find each other throughout the United States by creating a free national database," says Eastwood. "Everyone does rescue differently. It's up to the rescues to vet the people. For us it's really about putting people together."

Even before launching Foster Fur Kids, Eastwood was being recognized for her work saving animals. She received the 2016 Pet Hero Award and named Animal Advocate of the Year.

While Eastwood does not have numbers yet on how many matches Foster Fur Kids has made, she points out that she's in this for the long haul. "We would like to have thousands signed up on the site," she adds, saying that she envisions the site being around for years to be "a resource for rescues and to help save lives and animals."

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