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Local News

Pet Search: Seeking Foster Families, Volunteers in SWPA | Helping the Helpers


by Special to the Capital-Star, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
November 30, 2022

By Jon Andreassi

WASHINGTON, Pa. — Since 1986, Pet Search has been building a network of foster families for dogs and cats in need of homes.

(Capital-Star file)

Sherry Knight, co-founder of the Washington-based nonprofit, said the organization is an all-volunteer, no-kill animal rescue. They currently have 45 foster families in Washington, Greene, Westmoreland, Allegheny, Beaver, and Butler counties, as well as in West Virginia.

One Southwestern Pennsylvania county is noticeably absent from that list – Fayette County.

“That’s where our really big need is,” Knight said. “We get a ton of phone calls from people needing help in Fayette County. The more foster homes we have, the more animals we can bring into the organization.”

At, there are applications available for those interested in becoming foster homes. Some of the information Pet Search will need is whether applicants have other pets and what kind of personalities they have.

Knight added that they will schedule a visit with potential fosters’ homes before approval.

One other aspect of the application process is making sure families know that fostering is not forever.

“Are you capable of being able to release that animal, mentally and emotionally, if the right home is found?” Knight said. “This becomes our passion. This is our commitment we have made as volunteers.”

Knight said Pet Search takes care to ensure animals are ready for adoption. They are placed with a family after a veterinarian makes sure they are vaccinated and microchipped, and determines what other health issues they may have.

“We are not the type of rescue to bring in a dog on Monday and put it out for adoption on Tuesday. They could stay in a foster home for weeks,” Knight said.

Knight says there are many other ways to help the organization, too.

Pet Search needs volunteers who are able to take animals to vet visits, check references on adoption applications and walk dogs. They also hold weekly adoption events at pet stores in the region that people can volunteer for.

Of course, donations of money, food, cat litter and toys are also welcome. Donations can be dropped off at 915 Jessop Place, Washington.

“We were the first all foster-based rescue here in Washington County,” Knight said. “We have always done this with a passion and a commitment to help animals in need in our community.”

Jon Andreassi is a reporter for the Herald-Standard of Uniontown, Pa. Helping the Helpers is a joint effort of the Herald-Standard and the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Readers may email him at

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John Micek for questions: Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.