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Mary Jane Byrne

Open Hearts and Open Homes

When Mary Jane Byrne’s neighbors’ dog—a chocolate Lab that she loved very much—passed away in May, reading an article about animal fostering in The Cape Codder was the first step to mitigating her grief. Byrne, a lifelong animal-lover from Orleans, didn’t want to make a long-term commitment to raising a pet, so she decided to foster for the Animal Rescue League of Boston. “If you’re an animal lover and you can’t make a 10-year commitment, it’s the perfect situation,” she says. “They come here because they need something, and I get to give it to them.”

Open Hearts and Open Homes

Byrne fostered a litter of kittens that was found under an oil tank at a marina, and the mother was nowhere to be found. They were about three weeks old, extremely shy, and frightened of people when she first picked them up from the shelter. Byrne says the ARLB provided her with just about everything—a carrier, a litter box, canned and dry food, bowls and dishes, and toys. In turn, she provided their names: Norma, Aida, and Wotan. “I’m an opera buff,” she explains, “and those are all names out of operas.”

Byrne happily reports all three of the kittens have been adopted, two of them together. “I always say I could never [foster],” she says. “I wondered if [returning the animals to the shelter] would be a problem. The day I took them back, I was very teary, but I wasn’t sad that I was losing them. I was very worried about what was going to happen to them.”

Open Hearts and Open Homes

Byrne wanted to make sure her foster kittens were going to good forever homes. Pam Walker informed her about foster animals’ adoptive families and how much experience they had. Byrne raves about Walker and the rest of the staff at the ARLB. “They all know you over there. They welcome you and they’re grateful,” she says. “I don’t know all of their names, but they know mine.”

Recently, Byrne fostered Butterfly, a three-week-old, tortoise-colored kitten with a white face, who has since been adopted by a loving family. “I’ve just learned so much and I plan on learning a lot more. It’s a fascinating, ever-changing, never-boring, wonderful thing to do,” she says. “I feel like I’m doing something helpful and I’m preparing them for a happy life.”

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Hillary Wenzel is a frequent contributor to Cape Cod Life

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