JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dozens of families flocked to the Jacksonville Humane Society on Wednesday, answering a call to foster the shelter's dogs during the tropical weather that’s predicted to hit the area this week.
The foster families, who are being called "Storm Troopers," had the shelter all but cleared out by noon Wednesday.
That left the shelter quieter than normal, with dozens of empty kennels.
"I think it's really important that we all come together and help the animals that can't help themselves,” foster volunteer Chelsea Babcock said.
Babcock said she loves animals, but with work and school, she's not able to adopt another dog. But she was willing to put her busy schedule aside this week to help Cane, an active pup.
"He's super sweet. He's interested. He wants to smell everything,” Babcock said.
JHS is not evacuating for the storm. The director said the shelter is ready and has a plan in place to keep the animals safe. Many of the pups become frightened in the outdoor kennels during heavy wind, and rain and the Storm Trooper program will get some of them inside a warm, loving home for a few days.
Storm Trooper families are encouraged to spoil their sleepover guests and share pictures on social media using #JHSStormTrooper. Of course, if they fall in love during the storm, they are welcome to adopt, officials said.
The Wright family said being Storm Troopers was a no-brainer.
"My husband's allergic to cats,” Vita Wright said, laughing.
So her family is bringing home Leenah for a few days.
"We just lost a dog a few weeks ago that we actually got here at the Humane Society that we've had for many years,” Wright said. “Although we aren't in a position to have a dog right now, we wanted to be able to help out and foster, even if it's for a limited period of time."
Wright's daughter, Erika, said fostering is a great program, and she hopes many of the dogs end up finding forever homes.
"When people foster dogs, you get used to the dog and you feel like it's yours,” Erika said. “With this, you have enough time to get used to it and maybe even adopt."
Animals can be fostered throughout the year. The people at JHS make it easy by offering families crates, food and anything else the cat or dog might need while they're in foster care.
Storm Trooper families can return the dogs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at JHS at 8464 Beach Blvd., when the animals will again be put up for adoption.