"The economy right now makes it hard on everybody, and sometimes, the additional expense of an animal is more than folks can bear," said Jim Tarantino, assistant director of Pet Foster Network.
The Raleigh-based volunteer group, which finds temporary homes for pets that have been abandoned, is expanding to all 100 North Carolina counties because of growing demand for its services. The goal is to keep the pets out of crowded animal shelters.
Tarantino said more families are surrendering pets to shelters, which means that more healthy animals are euthanized by the shelters because of space limitations.
An estimated 200,000 animals are euthanized in North Carolina each year.
"The more shelters are overburdened, the more we really need our foster homes," he said, adding the group is trying to beef up its ranks of fostering volunteers across the state.
Anyone can foster a pet, he said.
Volunteer Margot Kent said she doesn't know what would have happened to Hershey, a 6-month-old blind puppy she is caring for, if Pet Foster Network didn't exist.
"He's so affectionate and he loves to be around people," Kent said. "(These animals) need a loving place. They need someone who is going to walk them, and feed them on a daily basis."