Since she was just 10 years old, Annabella Miller has had a passion for fostering dogs. What started as a family affair quickly became an individual pursuit when Miller discovered how rewarding volunteerism is – especially when it comes to animal care.
“I formed a close connection with each and every dog, which only pushed me to help out more,” said 17-year-old Miller. “I dedicated hours of my time to interviews, phone calls, vet visits, etc. The feeling of independence this gave me inspired me to look into more volunteer work.”
Despite the challenge of juggling school, sports and a part-time job, the soon-to-be Laguna Beach High School senior has successfully rehomed six foster dogs but only takes in a new foster when she can commit to its care.
“It’s important for me to plan ahead and not make a commitment to fostering when I have other priorities,” Miller said. “However, if I do take in a foster dog and still find myself struggling to give them the proper time and attention, my wonderful parents are always willing to step in and give me a hand.”
Miller has fostered five dogs from Lovebugs Rescue, based in Orange County. Her family adopted their own dog from the organization, and Miller has fostered through Lovebugs Rescue ever since. She also works with Leashes of Love Rescue, also based in Orange County.
“My favorite part of fostering is being able to watch a dog who comes into my home completely terrified grow to be trusting and genuinely content,” Miller said. “Most of my dogs have come to me extremely fearful and reluctant to trust anyone. It is such a fulfilling process to watch them come out of their shells and live happier lives. I also thoroughly enjoy the close bond I form with the animals.”
Miller said fostering is worth the time and effort. However, those interested in taking in a dog must be 100 percent committed to the process.
“To kids who want to get involved, it is very time-consuming and will consist of many vet visits, phone calls, interviews, meet and greets and more,” Miller said. “The entire process, from taking in a dog to getting them into their forever home, usually takes about a month to a month and a half. Make sure your family is on board and willing to help. It is such a wonderful contribution and is definitely worth it.”
More information on how to volunteer or adopt from Lovebugs Rescue or Leashes of Love can be found at https://www.lovebugsrescue.org/ and https://lolr.org. Miller has her own fostering website at https://ajmfostering.com.