CDR Spotlight: Roane Shelter Staff Fosters

By: Meredith Raimondi (Volunteer Roane Shelter to Rescue Coordinator and Member of CDR Board of Directors)

Shelter Staff Appreciation Week is April 12-18.

There is a widespread misconception that animal shelter staff do not care about the animals. In Roane County, West Virginia, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The staff go above and beyond every day in a rural area with limited resources and overcrowded kennels. Oftentimes they find they have twice as many animals as kennels, which can leave for difficult decisions. The work of three extraordinary women, Stephanie Justice, Susan Lyons and Tanya Hicks, who are both staff members and dog fosters, has made a remarkable positive difference in lives of hundreds of animals and helped limit the number of animals put down due to overcrowding. As fosters, they volunteer their time and homes for dogs rescued by City Dogs Rescue. For a month or more, they feed, nurture, and care for these dogs. They travel far distances to go to the vet to ensure the dogs have all vaccinations and vetting prior to arrival in Washington, DC. Their charitable actions have inspired the local community to step up and join the Shelter Staff Fosters in finding ways to help animals leave the shelter alive through rescue or adoption. Whether it’s through community fundraisers, adoption events, or fostering, everyone is pitching in to help the Roane County animals.

Tanya with her newest foster for CDR: River

Since City Dogs Rescue partnered with Roane Shelter, over 80 dogs from Roane County, WV have been rescued. Of those, 25 have been fostered by shelter employees Stephanie and Susan, and Animal Humane Officer Tanya. These women have seen it all. Yet, every day they go to work to make a difference in these animals lives. Their tremendous efforts have not gone unnoticed and their reduced euthanasia rates are undoubtedly related to their active Facebook page that is regularly updated. Many shelters are overwhelmed by a lack of resources especially when it comes to advertising adoptable animals. The shelter staff at Roane know that the animals lives depend on the exposure they get from the staff’s photos. Each day they set aside what little time they have to make sure every dog or cat that comes through gets photos. With this system, every animal gets a chance to live. While this is not an easy task, it is just one way that the Roane Shelter staff gives their all every day.

Susan and her CDR foster Gucci

Along with the staff, several local community members have opened their homes to foster animals for rescues like City Dogs Rescue. The Shelter Staff Fosters have demonstrated to the community that rescues like CDR are committed to the dogs they save and that CDR will be there for them when they need it. With generous donations, CDR is able to pay for the vet care and transport from West Virginia to Washington, DC of approximately 10 dogs a month from Roane County. Local fosters help shelter dogs adjust to being inside a home, begin basic house training and crate training (often with dogs who have never lived inside a home before), and drive them to the necessary vet appointments needed to prepare them for their journey to Washington. With the exposure through Roane’s Facebook page of the rewards of fostering, several new fosters have joined the volunteer force in Roane County and the surrounding area. (CDR is always seeking more fosters in West Virginia as every home means another life saved. For more info, email

Stephanie and CDR Foster Brutus

These women have personally been an inspiration to me as the Roane Shelter Coordinator for CDR. We have hard weeks in rescue and often it’s easy to get defeated. What I do doesn’t even come close to the one-tenth of what the Shelter Staff Fosters do each week to make a difference. Humane Officer Tanya spends most of her work days travelling far distances to retrieve animals from situations of abuse and neglect. They foster dogs back to back,  month after month. Tanya and Susan said they continue to help because “knowing that we have helped a dog, that if not for [our] family, would not otherwise have known what it is to be loved and a part of a family. The reward is in “seeing the transformation from scared animals to loving trusting ones.”

Stephanie, her son Kayden, and foster (now adopted) Gibbs

They don’t complain when a dog gets sick, marks in their house (common in unneutered male dogs), or drags a roll of tissue paper through the house. They handle transport delays due to weather or a lack of fosters in DC in stride. They do not pressure us and they show thanks for CDR each day. It takes a patient personality to deal with me because my mind moves a million miles a minute but everyone is always understanding. When I think about their lives, I feel a deep appreciation and gratitude on all they do and I am so lucky to be a part of it. From the bottom of my heart, thank you ladies!

This week, we would like to give it up for Stephanie (foster for 9 dogs and counting), Susan and Tanya (fosters of 16 dogs and counting)! Please join us in thanking the Roane Shelter Staff Fosters.  If you would like to make a donation in honor of the Roane Shelter Staff Fosters for their next foster dog, please do so here: I know that this would be very meaningful for them as the stream of animals never ends nor does the love in their hearts. When one foster leaves, they are already looking ahead to the next. They are truly remarkable. Please specify donations for the “Roane Shelter Staff Fosters.”