If you could dream up the best job ever for a dog lover, it would probably be what Sarah Brasky does. The founder of Foster Dogs NYC and the Dog Matchmaker, she works every day to help save rescue pups and find them forever homes with loving humans. Pretty awesome, right? She’s also adopted two dogs of her own, Shaggy and Ozzie (who of course, have their own Instagram account.) We talked to Brasky about her big love for animals, how she got into the business of helping pups full-time, and what you can do to support the cause.
Where did your love for dogs come from?
It probably came my grandmother, but it skipped a generation. It definitely seemed out of the blue when my parents discovered I was obsessed with dogs! From the moment I could open a book I wanted to read dog encyclopedias, and I would follow dogs down the street. It turned into a focus on rescues when we adopted our first dog as a family 21 years ago and I realized the beauty of rescue and adoption. I decided to channel my life’s work into it.
What was your first experience like rescuing a dog?
After I adopted my first dog when I was in sixth grade—we had walked through the shelter and I wanted to spread the word about the dogs I had met who we couldn’t take home with us. A friend expressed her family's desire to adopt as well; together, we visited the shelter and I helped them pick out a sweet Lab mix whom they may not have thought was right for them. They named her "Nala," to go along with my adopted dog "Simba." I felt a major sense of purpose because I helped connect them—that was my first matchmaking experience. I will never forget how happy I felt, it was a perfect way to start off in my rescue work.
Why did you start Foster Dogs NYC?
After college when I lived in the city, I got more involved with dog volunteering. I started to browse adoption websites – at the time, it was an addiction! I found out about fostering and once I brought home my Pitbull, I realized there was nowhere for me to post her other than Craigslist or my Facebook page. So I created a website in 2009, and that’s how Foster Dogs NYC was born. Over time it’s grown into a full-fledged non-profit with volunteers and events every month and national campaigns—we’ve saved thousands of dogs lives over the years.
What are some of the ways you help rescue dogs?
We have events every month for the community to show people how accessible fostering —our pack walks through the park are a great way to promote dogs that are adoptable and to experience dog-walking firsthand. We have free workshops to educate people about fostering and adoption and dog ownership in general. And we have a few unique programs: Fospice is focused on helping place geriatric and terminally ill shelter dogs in a forever foster home for their final months of life. And Operation Foster Bound is focused on dogs who are not as ‘desirable’ as their shelter counterparts because they have training needs or a disability. We help them get adopted by providing them with training, dog food, and fluffy sweet stuff such as a portrait or a nice leash.
How did the Dog Matchmaker come about?
That was born out of working with people and foster dogs and realizing so many people needing individualized help and advice on what type of dog to get, where to get it, how to make it work at home. It’s a very small-scale operation where I only take on a few clients at a time, help them find a great dog by talking to the rescue groups I work with through Foster Dogs.
How do you make the best matches?
I ask them to complete a questionnaire, we talk by phone to get a feel for what they’re looking for, and then I narrow down the search to a few adoptable dogs. Then they meet with a few of them, apply, and within a few weeks, adopt! A lot of people say, I would not have otherwise noticed this dog. It’s special to make that connection.
What’s one of your favorite experiences working with foster dogs?
We were helping this dog named Ariel through Operation Foster Bound: she had been on our website for a while, and had been in a boarding kennel for four years. She’s a big dog and she was basically living in a crate. We found her a foster home with a wonderful couple who loved her and after 3 months, another couple adopted her. It’s the most beautiful story—now she has her own Instagram account, they love her to death! @arielthebrindle
Why do you think fostering is so important?
When dogs are in shelters, even if they’re not going to get euthanized, it’s a stressful environment—they can get sick, their manners might regress, they might not show as well to potential adopters if they’re afraid or anxious. Putting into a foster home allows a dog to feel like a pet and be a part of a family, so they’re much more appealing to adopters. And they can be more at peace. It’s a beautiful thing to take a homeless dog into your home. And it’s more accessible than people realize! It’s not adopt or nothing—you can save lives without making a long-term commitment.
To help support Sarah, you can sign up for events or make a donation to Foster Dogs NYC. Posting photos of their adoptable pups helps too!
Main image is courtesy of Bethany Obrecht