At Seattle Humane, our organization is built upon strong values to carry out our mission of serving pets and the people who love them. We take pride in having a team of dedicated staff members who go above and beyond to meet the individual needs of every animal in our care. Jess Charlton embodies these values in an exceptional way.
Throughout Jess’s nearly 10-year tenure with our organization, they have consistently demonstrated an unwavering commitment to our cause. Jess never hesitates to open their home and heart to new foster or SPOT pets, providing them with extra care, love and attention in preparation for adoption. Sometimes foster pets don’t find new homes because they’ve completely stolen Jess’s heart, which was the case for Arthur, their beloved first Seattle Humane “foster fail,” whose legacy lives on through Jess’s continued foster efforts.
We are thrilled to shine a spotlight on Jess this month, as their incredible dedication has positively impacted countless animals they have fostered over the years. Check out the interview below to discover more about Jess and their inspiring journey as a volunteer foster parent at Seattle Humane.
Tell us about one of your favorite Seattle Humane foster pets.
How can I pick the perfect flower? I’ll share about my cat Arthur. In October 2019, we were FULL at the shelter. I was about to head out for the weekend when our Lifesaver Assistant, Greg Faber, sent me a photo from Yakima Humane. The photo was of a sickly kitten. We both knew we had been asked not to bring in any animal that needed immediate foster placement. However, we both knew that kitten was coming to Seattle Humane, and that I couldn’t resist taking him home myself. The kitten came home with me that afternoon, and soon his name became Baby Brother.
Over many weeks of recovery, I fell even more in love with Baby Brother. My family told me if I kept him that I could not foster anymore. Well, I kept him, and my no-foster ban lasted about five months (a record for me). Over the next four years, Baby Brother, later named Arthur, became a devoted dad to all of the foster kittens who came to our home. He knew immediately when I walked in with them. Patiently, he would lie next to their carrier, then their crates, and then the bathroom door until he would finally get to meet them. Arthur helped raise many single kittens to become better babies. My sweet Arthur passed away just a few days ago from FIP. He will be forever missed, and I honor him for all that he did for countless foster kittens.
What inspired you to foster pets with Seattle Humane?
I don’t know if I had a choice! When I first started working at Seattle Humane, there was a rule that employees were not allowed to foster within the first 90 days. It only took a pair of bottle babies for that rule to quickly be broken for me!
What is the most rewarding aspect of fostering?
Watching an animal finally get its needs met and blossom is a divine gift to witness. Building bonds with those animals and having the chance to be in their life.
When/how did your love of animals begin?
I was born with it. My grandmother, Mimi Bunny, loves cats and, therefore, I love cats.
Are there any experiences that you feel helped prepare you for fostering (previous jobs, internships, schooling, resident pets, etc.)?
Growing up, it was normal to have pets come and go. Sometimes they were ours, sometimes we cared for them when friends or family could not. As I got older and experienced a lot of loss, my cats were my constant companions. I will always love them! Fostering through an all-volunteer run rescue and working at a feral cat spay/neuter clinic prepared me for the world of sheltering. Working in shelters helped me learn to love dogs and how to meet their needs. Practice helps. Over the years I have fostered hundreds of pets. Each one teaches me how to care for the next one.
Do you have any pets of your own?
Paula and Kramer are my senior Floridian cats. Dusty Lynn, the senior dog, is my most recent adoptee (FKA Dusty Springfield). I have three mice, Fruity, Judy and Capri. I share my home with Ginger Rose, a chubby Doxie mix. I co-parent my dog, Chia, and cat, Nizhoni. Yes, we have fun over here!
Besides fostering, tell us about your hobbies. Do you have any hidden talents we might not know about?
I love to garden, sell vintage treasures, make candles and see performance art. I am very good at picking outfits for other people and thrifting. I read tarot, and I am a self-taught vegan chef!
What advice would you give to others who are thinking about fostering a pet?
Don’t worry about whether or not you will get attached to your foster pet. You will! It’s completely normal to feel love and loss in this process. The amazing thing is that your love for pets can become a renewable resource.