She calls them her failures. When Kim Leslie received each of her four dogs, it was supposed to be temporary situations. When it came time to find them a permanent home, however, she just could not do it. Here most recent keeper, Bentley, was four months old when he was found in a commercial dumpster on Frankford Avenue.
"I just didn't want to give them up," said the Feasterville resident.
Such is the danger of being a foster owner for shelter dog, one that Leslie says requires a certain mindset to overcome, but nobody's perfect.
As founder of the Wet Nose Rescue, she and her team of approximately 25 foster families have helped hundreds of abandoned or abused dogs find homes over the past five years. It's their job to feed them and keep them healthy before they are adopted.
"They take the dogs in as their own and take such great care of them," said Leslie. "We have a constant flow of puppies and dogs coming in from all over the place, most of them from people who lost their homes and left them behind."
For example, Leslie said, two crates containing four adult Malteses and four puppies were recently discovered in the basement of an abandoned house. She said that in all instances such as these, a shelter will take in the dogs and administer the proper shots, then look for foster families or adoption candidates.
With it's non-profit status, Wet Nose Rescue relies heavily on volunteers, charitable donations and the generosity of people like the families in the Centennial School District. Sunday morning, four carloads of blankets, pillows and towels were delivered to the Wet Nose Rescue headquarters in Northeast Philadelphia, just outside Trevose.
They were all collected over the past month by students and parents and dropped off at each of the district's elementary schools, Willow Dale, McDonald and Davis. With the help of promotional flyers printed out free of charge by Astro-Dynamic Print & Graphic Services, the word got out early and gave the kids a good cause they can help.
"They were really excited to know that all of their old blankets and pillows would be helping the dogs," said Terri Osimo, who organized the drive with Tiffany Budnick. "They jumped right in and rounded up all of these blankets and sheets they were going to get rid of anyway."
The volunteers took a break from piling up the bags overflowing with the donated items to welcome the newest arrivals to the Wet Nose Rescue. The hearts of the gathered dog lovers melted as soon as Mike and Judy Walls parked their car and let them see the five pups that finished their long road trip from a shelter in South Carolina.
"Transportation is a bit like a relay race," said Leslie. "They started in South Carolina, somebody drove them up to Baltimore and handed them off to the Walls, who watched them overnight, then brought them here today."
Leslie began rescuing dogs on her own after Hurricane Katrina in 2004, offering safe haven for the pets that had been abandoned when families were forced to evacuate. She expanded her efforts in 2007 after formerly establishing the Wet Nose Rescue organization, establishing a network of foster owners that stretches to Quakertown, Richboro, Bensalem, Philadelphia and New Jersey.
It's difficult for Leslie to estimate how many animals she has helped since forming her group, but she said at least 10 to 14 calls come in a month from people looking for fosters. The Wet Nose Rescue can't care for them all, but the families handle as many as they can. Some foster dogs stay for a couple days, others weeks or months, depending on the situation.
"They all have their own story," said Leslie. "The owners lost their house or a job and couldn't afford to keep the dog. It's a lot of drama for the dogs to overcome."