DeKALB – You may think that you love animals, but Tracey Freier probably has you beat.
Freier has two cats and is fostering a dog and nine 5-week-old puppies.
Freier is a volunteer and foster parent at Tails Humane Society, 2250 Barber Greene Road in DeKalb. Since Freier started fostering for Tails about 10 years ago, she has fostered 431 animals.
On March 9, Freier was presented with the Heart of Gold award during Tropical Tails, a fundraiser for the shelter. The award honors Freier’s years of dedication and volunteer service to Tails.
Freier met with MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton to discuss the award she received and why she volunteers and fosters pets for Tails.
Milton: What was your reaction to receiving the award?
Freier: I was just as surprised as everyone else. I was holding a puppy at the time. I definitely didn’t expect it. I was in pure shock. I accepted the award with a puppy in one hand and the award in another.
Milton: What are some ways you volunteer for Tails?
Freier: I’ve fostered for Tails for about 10 years. I help with a lot of transports. We take in a lot of dogs from Oklahoma and Tennessee, and Festus, Missouri, is often a meeting place. A lot of times, the animals will be euthanized if we don’t take them. I also volunteer at Tails and help with events, such as the garage sale and the Mutt Strut.
Milton: How did you first hear about Tails?
Freier: It started out as a fluke. I found out about fostering through a newspaper ad when Tails was looking for fosters for kittens. I have a two-bedroom condo and have the extra bedroom. Since I had the room, I thought I’d foster some kittens. So far, I’ve fostered 431 animals.
Milton: Why did you choose Tails?
Freier: I love volunteering at Tails. At Tails, the animals have names, not numbers. They’re well-cared for here. People here are amazing and I’ve formed great friendships and close bonds. We’re all in it for the same reason.
Milton: Why do you foster animals?
Freier: People might think that fostering is difficult, that you’d want to keep them, but it’s exciting to see them adopted. I keep in touch on Facebook with families that have adopted the animals I’ve fostered. … By fostering, you’re taking an animal out of a shelter, giving that shelter space to another animal. You’re saving lives. Fostering costs the foster parent nothing, Tails provides everything, including food and medicine. You just need to provide love.
Milton: What do you love about dogs?
Freier: Dogs have an unconditional love. They’re so happy to see you when you come home, and they make a horrible day happier. I love seeing a dog that used to be scared and terrified of you approach you, wag their tail. Most of the dogs haven’t had a lot of human touch or interaction. It’s so rewarding to give them the love they need. We keep them loved and well-cared for until they’re ready for their new home.
Milton: Are any specific breeds of dogs more difficult to foster?
Freier: I love pit bulls. Pitties are amazing. I’ve also grown to have an appreciation for chihuahuas. I hate the stereotyping of certain dog breeds. People used to be afraid of German shepherds, dobermans and rottweilers. Now they don’t like pit bulls. I think you can turn every dog, no matter the breed. Every dog needs love and attention, they don’t need to be abused and stereotyped.