FROM READERS: Columbia resident fosters 144th dog

Thursday, October 31, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

Melissa Kron is an Indiana native who has called Columbia home for almost 11 years. She studied animal science with an emphasis in dairy genetics at Western Kentucky University. Melissa is a senior lab technician for Idexx/RADIL. Over the past 4 years, she has fostered 144 dogs from several rescues and shelters in Columbia.

Growing up on a dairy farm, you are surrounded by a menagerie of animals. Taking care of the dairy cattle on our farm was a passion for me, so when my parents retired nearly 5 years ago, there was a void I needed to fill.

Having a degree in animal science, I wanted to lend my knowledge and experience helping in the community. Having never set foot in an animal shelter, I decided to try something new. I started volunteering at the Columbia Humane Society. The cages were always full, and so many dogs were more than ready to join me on a walk and receive attention.

I knew it was a shelter that euthanized animals. I put it in the back of my mind until one day, when a walk I took with one of the dogs ended up longer than planned. When we arrived back at the shelter, the managers were going over “the list.” There were seven that day. My stomach wrenched.

Although at the time, I couldn’t take any of the dogs that were on the list home to foster because of their large size, I eyed two small dogs I had played with previously in the week. I asked the manager if taking those two small dogs home to foster would open up two spaces. It did. I instantly saved the lives of two dogs that were minutes away from euthanasia. I saw the immediate and monumental impact I could have on these animals. I was hooked.

Now four years later, I took in my 144th foster dog. For the last three years, I have been fostering for No Kill rescues, Second Chance and Dogs Deserve Better, although I no longer foster for the Humane Society. All breeds have come through my home – Huskies, Chihuahuas, Pit Bulls, Poodles and Beagles. They have been all ages and stayed for different periods of time. They all have a story and almost always find themselves homeless at no fault of their own.

The question I hear most is how I could give them up after fostering them. I tell them that it isn’t about me; it’s about the dog. It would be selfish of me to stand in the way of someone who wants to make them a loving part of their family.

Additionally, I look at the next foster I take in and know that it most likely would have died if I had kept the last one. I run into my former fosters at the dog park, see them thriving and happy in their new homes on Facebook and receive email updates. That is a feeling that is hard to beat!

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.

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