Volunteer Spotlight and Foster Hero Nominee: Erin Faraone

Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter relies on our amazing volunteers, including those who foster many of the animals we take in. Our shelter nominated one of those volunteers in recognition of her years of dedication and commitment. She is truly making a positive impact in the lives of shelter pets.

Erin (pictured in center)

Erin Faraone and her husband Anthony, who recently retired after 26 years from the West Orange Police Department, reside in East Hanover. They have two boys, Kenny and Anthony, 4 dogs named Clyde, Charlie, Chica, and Carlos, and a cat named Thor. She has had a life-long love for animals and has been a paralegal for over 35 years, specializing in family law, and is now employed for the managing partner, Angelo Sarno, Esq. of the law firm of Snyder Sarno D’Aniello Maceri & da Costa LLC.

Prior to coming to Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter, Erin volunteered at South Mountain Wildlife fostering and caring for baby possums who lost their mothers too soon, usually by automobiles. Erin feels that “animals help individuals emotionally and never want anything more than to be loved and make their special human happy.” Animals who do not have their own homes, who are abused, or are malnourished is heartbreaking to her. Erin goes on to say, “In my eyes, there is never any good enough reason not to cherish every day of an animal’s life. As I have told many of my friends and family, when you rescue a dog, the odds are you will outlive your fur baby so make the most of each day.”

Erin has been volunteering at Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter for over two years. During that time, she and her family have fostered more than 200 puppies, each one of them finding their forever homes with loving families. Fostering puppies requires a lot of attention and care and is not always glamorous, but the reward comes when they are adopted. Erin describes a day in the life of fostering puppies as getting up early, a lot of cleaning, “boy do they make a mess,” playing, hugs and kisses, all before going to her real-world job. When she returns home, at the end of the day, she is met with all the love and joy that fostered puppies bring. Each one of the 200 puppies her family fostered all had different, personalities, different energy levels, different needs – but all had a great love to give and were loved greatly in return.

While taking care of puppies may take some work, feral puppies bring with them a whole new challenge. Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter received two puppies who were left outside to fend for themselves and never had any human contact. We reached out to Erin knowing her expertise in fostering made her a prime candidate to help save these puppies. Without hesitation, Erin leaped at the challenge. For weeks, the puppies hid underneath their couches afraid of human contact. Erin and her husband would sit on the floor, throwing toys, calling them out, but they wanted nothing to do with people. Erin and Anthony never gave up. Each day they picked up the puppies, showed them with love, played with them, even when they did not want such affections. Eventually, with their determination and great love, they came around, began to trust, and enjoyed the love they were showered with. One of their friends, a fellow West Orange Police Officer, adopted one of the puppies, and the second one, Sophie, is a moment Erin and Anthony will never forget. Erin tells the story:

Emmet & Dallas

“My husband and I were going to a BBQ with Sophie and I forgot wee-wee pads to help her socialize. We were driving past the shelter and I suggested that we stop there to pick up a few instead of going back home. Upon our arrival, my husband saw a friend, who is also an officer on the W.O.P.D., and his wife, whose dog, Emmet just had a meet and greet with another dog at the shelter which did not seem to click. My husband opened the back of our truck and our Sophie jumped out and sat right underneath, Emmet. Long story short, I had to say my goodbyes to Sophie at the shelter that day. She never made it to the BBQ–finding her forever home with a loving family of now six, including Emmet and Sophia (now known as Dallas).”

Anthony is a driving force behind Erin’s amazing dedication as a foster. He encourages her to seek out her passions, fostering is one of them. It takes a village to raise a child and the same holds true for fostering a puppy. Many of the puppies that they have fostered remain in their lives as new owners will send photos or notes of thanks with updates on how the puppies are doing. Erin is also a dog groomer on the weekends at North Jersey Grooming where she sees many of the dogs that she fostered. Erin says, “I am lucky enough to see many of them each week as they grow up. Knowing that their lives were changed by a little bit of kindness and compassion is a wonderful feeling.”

Quill Lewis, Foster Coordinator at Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter, recommended Erin as a Foster Hero for Petco Foundation’s “I Pledge to Save Lives” campaign. “Erin is an amazing foster.” Quill says, “She always goes above and beyond for her foster animals.” When asked if she would recommend fostering, Erin shares that while it is a wonderful and rewarding experience, it is not for everyone. Potential fosters need to understand the work involved before they take on the responsibility of fostering. Their intervention is life-changing for many animals and vital to successful outcomes in adoption.

Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter is grateful for the support of fosters like Erin. Her commitment to our animals helps us continue to save lives and find loving families who give them the life they so desperately need and deserve.