Staten Island native Donna Marie is a fearless paramedic for the FDNY. She’s also a lifelong animal rescuer and one of the ASPCA’s hardest-working foster parents! Since 2009, she’s been helping prepare semi-feral and under-socialized cats for a lifetime of love and companionship in a forever home. We chatted with her about her experiences as a foster mom.
ASPCA: How did you decide to join the ASPCA’s foster program?
Donna: I love working with animals, and my fiancé, Ricky, and I thought we’d get our “kitten fix.” We already had adult cats and thought that fostering would be a great way to spend time with kittens without the long-term commitment.
But as we got more involved, we became more of a “last stop” for cats who needed an evaluation outside of the shelter environment, and by people who truly understood cats.
I think it’s important that we offer these animals a fair shot because shelter evaluations can’t always reflect the true personality of some shy cats and kittens who may thrive in a home environment. (Although we admittedly still love the kitten fixes.)
ASPCA: Who was your most memorable foster pet?
Donna: Probably Fonzie. He was a little Siamese mix with crossed eyes, a chronic sniffle, an absolute aversion to being picked up and an inability to stop chirping. He was such a weirdo, and yet so absolutely charming. After returning to the ASPCA Adoption Center, he eventually got adopted!
ASPCA: What would you say to potential foster parents?
Donna: You can’t adopt them all, even if you’d like to. (Trust me, we’ve thought about it.) But wherever you live, I guarantee that there’s an animal shelter that could use your help, and fostering can truly be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have in your life. OK, so maybe we can’t change the world. But maybe we can make it better, one animal at a time. Personally, I’d like to try. How about you?