In a year, the Fort Bragg Animal Shelter can house as many as 2,000 animals. But a shelter is not an ideal home for a pet. It serves more as the halfway house for those fortunate animals that have the opportunity to make it to a loving Family.

In the past two years, the shelter implemented a foster program, which provides the animal of choice with a leash and food for up to a week. This allows Families, who want to adopt but are unsure if the animal is a good fit, to take the pet home and supervise how the animal interacts with the Family and other possible pets in the home.

“We love the whole fostering process,” said Ashley Messineo, wife of a Fort Bragg Soldier. Ashley and her husband currently have a dog and a cat. She said they heard about the adoption process while getting shots for their animals.

“It’s much more comforting, being able to take the animal home to see if the pet will become well adjusted,” she said.

Since the shelter began the foster program, they have reversed the number of euthanized animals from about 80 percent two years ago to almost 80 percent adoptions today.

With the thousands of pounds of food needed to feed the animals, endless cleaning of litter boxes, vaccinations administered, and all the other daily routines that go into maintaining a shelter, it requires a lot of helping hands. Because of this, the 16th Military Police Brigade designated a Soldier to help out full-time as their official duty.

Sgt. Joseph Cardwell, 42nd MP Det., had previously worked as a K9 handler and specifically asked to work at the shelter.

“I like playing with the dogs and cats, taking care of them,” said Cardwell.

Even with the additional help from the assigned Soldier, it takes the dedication of willing volunteers to run the facilities.

Volunteers may sign up through the Red Cross, at Womack Army Medical Center, on the first Monday of each month. They must undergo a screening process before being allowed to handle the animals.