A family portrait of the Do Rego family and their current fosters.Recognizing the challenges faced by local animal shelters during the pandemic, Sandra Do Rego and her four children decided to open their hearts and home in 2020 to provide temporary care and love for animals in need.

As a high school teacher for more than 20 years, Sandra worked full-time teaching classes online during lockdowns while her three children were also at home doing online schooling. After hearing about OMHS’ need for as many animals as possible to be in foster care due to pandemic closures, the family came together to discuss how they could help.

Pandemic pet project

“We wanted to contribute and do some good during the pandemic,” Do Rego recalled. “After hearing about the need for animals to be moved out of shelters, we had a conversation and agreed to foster – as long as the kids contributed to daily care like feeding, cleaning and socializing the animals.”

The family fostered their first cat, Mousse, in April 2020 and mostly cared for cats, kittens and small animals the first year.

“Especially during COVID, fostering was something positive that the kids could look forward to. Having those animals and having a focal point to do something positive and give back was really important,” said Do Rego.

Four years later, the family has provided care for more than 50 pets, including puppies, dogs, cats, kittens, guinea pigs, and ‘tons of bunnies.’

Sandra affectionately describes her household as “a little bit of a zoo.”

Currently, the Do Rego family is caring for a mother dog named Penny who was a stray picked up by an OMHS protection officer. Once in OMHS’ care, it was discovered that Penny was pregnant. As experienced fosters, the Do Rego family was asked to care for the puppies beginning at just four days old.

What is in a name?  A black chalkboard with names of fostered animals written in three columns.

Sometimes animals come from the shelter with names, but sometimes foster families have the fun task of naming animals in their care. Naming the pets is something the children find great joy and responsibility in. 

“The kids get very involved in this process of coming up with the right name. They also have a little chalkboard where they keep track of all the names of the more than 50 animals we’ve fostered,” Sandra explained.  

Learning to love and let go 

Though goodbyes can be difficult at times, Sandra teaches her children, who range from elementary school age to high school age, that fosters are temporary.  

“Before animals leave us, the kids get to take as many photos and videos as they need. And then they’re ready to let them go and say goodbye.” 

“The fostering experience helps kids learn to love and let go.” Recalling a particularly sad goodbye, Do Rego told her son, ‘You taught that kitten how to love. Now, he will bring that love to his new owner, remembering how you loved him.” 

Purpose and joy 

“Watching the animals blossom before finding new homes brings us purpose and joy. It’s just wonderful to care for animals who are sometimes scared and nervous, and then all of a sudden you see them blossoming, and they’re ready to go to their new families. It’s just an incredible experience” 

To learn more about becoming an OMHS foster, please visit the fostering page on our website.