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Heather’s Foster Dogs has fostered over 700 pets in 10 years

Lansing resident is devoted to giving pets a better quality of life

LANSING, Ill. (April 24, 2023) – For nearly a decade, a local nonprofit organization has been working tirelessly to help area animals in need. Founded by Lansing resident Heather Risser, Heather’s Foster Dogs has fostered and adopted out hundreds of dogs since its launch in 2013.

Inspired by “a group of dedicated former shelter volunteers and fosters looking to change the outlook for area animal shelters and the homeless pets in their community,” Risser began Heather’s Foster Dogs after breaking away from a different organization.

“We really were hoping to make a bigger impact,” Risser said. “We knew the impact we made at the [previous] shelter, and we wanted to have an impact on others as well.”

Meeting an overflowing demand

Heather’s Foster Dogs brings homeless pets from local animal shelters that are experiencing overcrowding. This allows the animals a chance to heal and grow in a foster home. Since the organization does not have a shelter facility, all dogs are fostered in private homes throughout the area by committed volunteers. The group pulled their first fosters shortly after the organization’s inception in March 2014, and has since fostered nearly 700 dogs.

Before an animal is made available for adoption, Heather’s Foster Dogs ensures that each pet has been examined by a veterinarian, given age-appropriate vaccinations, and administered preventative measures, such as heartworm, and flea and tick medication. Additionally, each dog is evaluated in its foster home for a minimum of two weeks, with the goal of providing each and every pet the loving care they deserve.

One example of an animal in need of extensive medical care is a recent rescue, a small dog that was saved from the streets of Dolton: “She was left on the side of the road, believed to be injured. … She required orthopedic surgery on both of her legs,” Risser explained.

foster dogs
This small dog was rescued in Dolton and nursed back to health. (Photo provided)

Savoring the small moments

With its extensive foster care protocols, Heather’s Foster Dogs is certified by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and is a member of both the No More Homeless Pets Network — an organization that works to reduce euthanasia rates — and Shelter Animals Count, a collaborative effort working to create standardized reporting and definitions for shelter statistics.

Risser, despite having childhood memories of helping orphaned rabbits, said she didn’t become a dog lover until her 20s. Now, after years of working with homeless pets and animals in great need, Risser said that she has countless fond memories of her career in animal care.

“To narrow it down to any one or two memories wouldn’t do [my experiences] justice,” she said.”When a puppy mill dog learns to play, when a scared dog curls up and falls asleep because it finally feels safe … There is so much heartbreak in rescue, it is the small moments we savor and enjoy.”

Supporting Heather’s Foster Dogs

Since COVID, Heather’s Foster Dogs has put a hold on many of its fundraising efforts. The group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and relies on grants, adoption fees, and in-kind donations to provide for the animals in their care.

Heather’s Foster Dogs accepts donations via check or PayPal. Detailed information can be found on the Donate page of HFD’s website. The organization is always looking for more volunteer fosters; more information is on the foster page.

Dogs in need of forever homes can be viewed at

Risser also performs trap-neuter-release (TNR) work independently of Heather’s Foster Dogs. People who know of homeless cats that need TNR can reach out to The Illiana Cat Project on Facebook.

Katie Arvia
Katie Arvia
Katie is a lifelong Lansing native who currently works full-time in marketing while also freelance reporting for The Lansing Journal. In 2015, she graduated with high honors from Saint Xavier University in Chicago with a BA in English, and she plans to pursue a Master's degree in the near future. Her favorite Lansing Journal assignments include coverage of TF South High School's walkout ("Demonstrating the possibilities") and her St. Patrick's Day interview with her grandma ("St. Patrick's Day traditions: reflections of an Irish granddaughter").


  1. Thx for spotlighting the good work Heather’s organization provides. Always wonderful to see animals being cared for and finding forever homes. 💙🐾🐶

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