Secret Lives of OhioHealth: Finding Forever Homes
Until 2014, April Neu-Fausnaugh, protective services officer at OhioHealth Eastside Medical Center, never really liked dogs.
"I was not a dog fan at all," she says. But a beagle named Baxter changed everything.
She adopted him from her cousin, and that was all it took.
"I fell in love," the 32-year-old says. "Since then, I've gone dog-crazy!"
April, her husband, Chris, and their three sons now own five rescue dogs. More remarkably, though, they have opened their home to 22 dogs and counting through the fostering program operated by the nonprofit organization Cause for Canines.
While she admits that their fifth dog, Kada, is a "foster failure," a term used when a temporary family adopts a dog they're fostering, she resists the urge to get too attached.
"I tell myself that if I don't get a dog I'm fostering adopted, the next dog in the shelter could be put down," she says. "That's always on my mind."
April believes that good foster families need to be patient, loving, open-minded and empathetic. And while fostering dogs isn't for everyone, she feels that it doesn't require as much as some people might think. You don't need a big house or a big back yard, she says, "All you need is a leash."
It is through their journey opening their home to loving pets in need that April and Chris took a bigger step and have recently become licensed foster parents through the National Youth Advocate Program.
"There are so many kids out there who are in really bad situations. Showing them, even in the simplest ways, that there are people out there who care about them and want to care for them can make a world of difference," she says.
She attributes part of that desire to help and provide a safe haven for children in need to her job in protective services. "I'm just doing the same thing in my home life, with children and animals, only at home I don't have to wear a bulletproof vest," she says, laughing.
While they haven't had a child placed in their home yet, April is looking forward to the day that she can welcome more kids and animals into her brood. She's hopeful that by hearing her story, other people might be inspired to open their homes and lives to fostering as well.
"It really just takes inching out of your comfort zone, and you can accomplish so much."
This story was originally published in an internal OhioHealth associate publication.
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