Parker County Today October 2016 - Page 68

our pets: RESCUER The Fight for Her Life Inspired Her to Fight for Others OCTOBER 2016 PA R K E R C O U N T Y T O D AY BY MISTY BROWNING PHOTO BY STEVE SCHILLIO Breast cancer changes the lives of millions of women each year. For Cheryl Tanferno, surviving breast cancer changed her life forever. As soon as her last chemo treatment was done in April of 2013, her life motto was a simple one — “My life was saved so I should return the favor.” “I started fostering dogs after finishing treatment because I felt I was saved and wanted to save the animals,” Tanferno said. “I’ve always been an animal lover and it’s natural for me to be involved with them.” After her treatment ended, she immediately began to volunteer at her local animal shelter in Flower Mound by helping dogs get fostered out. She and her husband moved to Gordon, just west of Weatherford, in 2014 and she began to foster animals and volunteer as part of Parker County Pets Alive! at the Weatherford/Parker County Animal Shelter. In 2015, she was named the shelter’s Volunteer of the Year. These days, her main job at the shelter is to help foster and save higher needs dogs that would die if not given a second chance. For her, giving those dogs a new life, especially the ones who are scared and have medical needs, brings a relief and satisfaction that she never knew before becoming a foster parent. “Dogs come into the shelter and 66 are scared. I come in and talk with them, get them accustomed to the shelter and to find them a home,” Tanferno said. “When I find a foster home for those dogs it’s a huge relief and satisfaction for me to get them out of the shelter and get them into a place where they can prosper and thrive.” Tanferno knows that when she can touch a dog that didn’t want to be touched when it first came to shelter, she has made progress. She recalls one dog over the past couple of years that wouldn’t let anyone come near him and would growl at the slightest inclination that someone was approaching him. “After getting him accustomed to people and the shelter, we were able to find him a rescue home. A week later, the foster parent sent me pictures of him loving on them. It was very heartwarming and rewarding to know that I was able to save his life,” Tanferno said. Sometimes, though, not all dogs she personally fosters are adopted. She has three “foster failures” of her own that she kept instead of being adopted out. Listening to her tell the story, she laughs and says that it’s her husband that falls in love with the dogs and wants to keep them. However, you can feel her love for not only her dogs, but all dogs that she comes in contact with as a volunteer. She also speaks highly of the Weatherford-Parker County Animal Shelter and the progress that has occurred under the leadership of Director of Animal Services Dustin Deel. She credits the success of the fostering program to the staff and volunteer base that locals have grown to know and love. “The shelter has come a long way and has a great volunteer base,” explained Tanferno. “I don’t know if I could volunteer at a shelter knowing that animals were getting put down every day. It makes it easier for the volunteers to know that the dogs that they have interacted with will make it out and have a good life.” For anyone who has ever thought about becoming a cat or dog foster parent, she always promotes an individual becoming one. “It does have its ups and downs, just like it does when you bring a new animal into your home, but the overall is so satisfying that it’s totally worth it.”