FRESNO COUNTY, California. (KGPE) – You are never too young to make a difference in the world. That is the lesson that 18-year-old Riley Hardison can teach you.
She started fostering dogs when she was 13 and you’d be surprised at how many lives she’s helped save.
Every week, often a couple of times a week, she makes the drive to the Animal Compassion Team in Fresno, to pick up a dog.
“She’s a little scared of the shelter, her name’s Fiona,” said Hardison.
Fiona was surrender by her owner.
And she is headed to Riley’s house for a short foster stay.
Riley’s experience as a foster mother for homeless dogs started when she was in 8th grade.
She needed a community service project for school.
Riley got her first foster dog named Petey when she was just 13.
“He was an adult dog, he had been here months, he was one of the most wonderful dogs you’ve ever met, the perfect foster,” explained Hardison.
Riley and her mom fostered Petey for months before he found his forever home.
“He really changed our whole life. He set such a great example for a first foster dog… He was so lovely,” said Hardison.
That was five years ago. She’s kept a record of all the dogs she’s fostered.
“I have my chalkboard in my room and I write every one of their names down,” said Hardison.
When Riley picked up Fiona her tally of fosters rose to 675.
“To help a dog that has no one to voice for them. To give them a voice, and to give them a home, it’s just part of me and it’s what I love,” Hardison said.
“I’m sure there are thousands of families who love her because she’s given them their wonderful babies in their home,” said Brenda Mitchell, president of the Animal Compassion Team.
Mitchell says Riley is a breath of fresh air.
“You do this long enough and it’s always to have those cheerful wonderful young people that you can look at and think to yourself that’s our future, it gives us hope, so that’s a big deal,” explained Mitchell.
Riley hosts her own adoption events in her hometown of Oakhurst.
Most recently, Riley has found homes for six dogs, including little Fiona!
“I just feel that having something that makes you want to get up in the morning, makes you want to strive to be a better you, while also impacting other people, there’s nothing that can be better,” said Riley.
If you’d like to see more of the dogs Riley is fostering, you can follow her on Instagram.