KITCHENER -- The Humane Society of Kitchener Waterloo and Stratford Perth is working with Stratford Perth schools to allow high school students to complete their community service volunteer hours by fostering a pet.

The pilot program allows students 14 and older to provide temporary care for a cat or small animal.

“The pandemic made it challenging for high school students to complete their community service volunteer hours.” said Stacy McLellan, volunteer coordinator at the humane society. “Given the success of our existing adult Foster Volunteer Program, we launched a pilot that enables high school students in the Stratford Perth area to provide love and care to a vulnerable animal while we look for their forever home.”

Students who are interested in the program can fill out an application online. They'll need to go through an interview process with staff and provide two reference letters.

The humane society will provide free animal care training and cover all costs of fostering the animals, including food, supplies, and veterinary care. People may need to provide leafy greens for small animals.

“Summer is a very busy time at the humane society, with many animals in need of foster care.” McLellan said. “Expanding our foster program to include students will allow us to increase the number of animals we are able to help and will give them the one-on-one care and attention that is hard to replicate in a shelter environment.”

Students would participate in the foster program under the supervision of a parent or guardian and would need to bring the animal to the shelter for periodic checks and appointments.