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Sophia Gillen’s Gold Award Paves Way for Expanded Pet Fostering in New Jersey

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MOUNTAIN LAKES — New Jersey is taking decisive steps to improve the lives of companion animals and humans who love them thanks to the efforts of a Girl Scout Gold Award, Phenomenal Foster Pets. 

Governor Phillip D. Murphy has officially proclaimed June 2024 as “Foster a Pet Month.”

Sophia Gillen, an Ambassador with Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey, successfully petitioned Governor Murphy to expand New Jersey’s dedication to saving shelter pets. Gillen attends Mountain Lakes High School in Morris County.  Gillen’s Gold Award stresses increased pet fostering to reduce shelter overcrowding. When a shelter animal is fostered, more shelter space becomes available.  Shelters cannot control when animals will be relinquished or rescued from the streets. 

Phenomenal Foster Pets encourages children and teens to advocate for animals at every age.  In middle school, 11th Hour Rescue gave Gillen her first chance to put her love for animals into action as a junior volunteer.   Since 2023, Gillen has been a weekend pet attendant at Bloomingdale Animal Shelter Society (BASS). She volunteers with BASS Treasurer Sherry Dally at PetSmart Willowbrook Adoption Days to find homes for cats and kittens on the first Saturday and Sunday of each month.

The Phenomenal Foster Pets fun patch lesson teaches scouts and adults how easy fostering and advocating for pets can be. The fun patch and lesson are available online for anyone to earn.  Families can often foster for a week or longer with no obligation to keep the pet.  Fostering gives a cat, dog, or other animal time to relax and socialize with humans.  Foster families learn to understand animals’ personalities and needs. 

Girl Scout Gold Advisor Marcy Pryor says, “Fostering saves lives.  Sophia’s Gold Award is a first for shelter pet advocacy with a state government.”  Pryor volunteers with Dogs and Cats of Antigua (DACOA) in the travel buddy, fostering, and overseas pet adoption programs.  “Foster families are essential in the pet adoption,” states Dr. Pryor. “I’m proud of Sophia for championing animals and taking it to the highest level in the state.”

Many New Jersey shelters have foster programs, including NorthStar Pet Rescue, 11th Hour Rescue, All Humane Animal Rescue, St. Hubert’s Animal Shelter, and Associated Human Society (AHS).  Use www.petfinder.com to find a shelter and take the next step as a foster family.  You won’t regret it! To learn about Phenomenal Foster Pet lessons and patches, contact phenemonalfosterpets@gmail.com.

Reprinted from Parsippany Focus Magazine, June 2024

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Frank Cahill
Frank Cahillhttps://www.frankcahill.com
Publisher of Parsippany Focus since 1989 and Morris Focus since January 1, 2019, both covering a wide range of events. Mr. Cahill serves as the Executive Board Member of the Parsippany Area Chamber of Commerce, President Kiwanis Club of Tri-Town, and Chairman of the Parsippany-Troy Hills Economic Development Advisory Board. Owner of the Morris now app serving small business in Morris County.
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