A WOMAN has fostered nearly 100 dogs in just seven years from the Salisbury branch of Dogs Trust.

Jo Heather, a mother-of-two from Salisbury, has taken care of dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds as part of Dogs Trust’s Home from Home foster scheme.

Jo is one of over 500 foster carers across the country who temporarily care for a dog in their own home, while Dogs Trust looks to find them a forever home.

The 56-year-old fostered her first pup in 2017, after becoming involved with the charity because of her daughter's love of dogs, and she hasn’t looked back since.

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Jo said: "When my daughters Emeline and Chloe were younger, they were always talking about dogs.

"Our local Dogs Trust rehoming centre is about a 15-minute drive from us, so we used to pop in with little donations, blankets, dog biscuits - things like that.

"And then one day we were in, I noticed a poster looking for fosterers and that’s where it started. I never imagined we’d end up fostering as many as we have."

Salisbury Journal: Jo has rediscovered her love of paintingJo has rediscovered her love of painting (Image: Dogs Trust Salisbury)

Aside from freeing up much-needed kennel space at Dogs Trust centres, and providing a loving temporary home for dogs, becoming a fosterer had another positive outcome for Jo, as it it reignited her love of painting.

Jo added: "I started thinking 'I’ve got a little bit of time here, the dogs are happily sleeping so I can sketch them and paint away' and that’s how it happened really.

"I don’t know how many [dogs] I have now painted. Dozens anyway. I’ve gifted many of them to the new owners as a good luck present."

This year, the need for foster carers like Jo has never been greater, with Dogs Trust receiving over 45,000 handover calls last year from owners.

Home from Home is one of two foster schemes run by the charity, with volunteers caring for a dog for as little as a few days, to several weeks.

The charity also runs a very unique fostering scheme for dog owners escaping domestic abuse. As many refuges do not accept dogs, Freedom will foster dogs so their owner can find freedom from abuse, before being reunited with their pet.

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: "The incredible dedication of foster carers like Jo and the work of the Dogs Trust team in such difficult times is so inspiring.

"Without them, many dogs would have nowhere else to go. Unfortunately, the current challenges of rehoming dogs are unlikely to ease any time soon - and that’s why our players’ funding has never been more vital."

Abbi Moon, Dogs Trust Head of Rehoming Central Operations, said: "This year, foster carers have been more important than ever before. We had over 45,000 handover calls last year because dog owners are facing so many struggles, including the cost of living.

"We have 21 rehoming centres, but our kennel space is stretched, and we don’t see that easing any time soon.

"Thanks to volunteers like Jo, and the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we can have kennels ready for the next dog who has nowhere else to go. We couldn’t be more grateful."

For more information on Dogs Trust, or information on how to become a foster carer, go to dogstrust.org.uk/rehoming/fostering

Readers can find out more about how People’s Postcode Lottery helps charities and good causes at postcodelottery.co.uk/good-causes