Since becoming the official laundry partner of Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS), we’ve met so many passionate animal advocates. These heroes exist in a variety of organizations—many affiliated with BFAS. To honor them for their efforts, we’ve gifted several special foster moms and dads a TR7/DR7 washer and dryer set to help simplify their laundry routines, allowing them to focus on providing the best possible care for their furry foster friends.

Today, we’re introducing you to Wendy Kaplan in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Spoiler alert—even on good days, fostering animals can be challenging. In Wendy Kaplan’s case, it has meant plenty of interrupted nights of sleep to give round-the-clock care, along with heartbreak and a feeling of defeat when a foster crosses that rainbow bridge.

But on the really good days, you have a front-row seat to witness the amazing resiliency of animals; to see the unbelievable fighting spirit they carry. You get the joy of taking in the first “thump, thump, thump” of a tail—a seemingly simple sound but what it represents is so much more.

And on the best days…you witness miracles.

A fighting chance

Wendy, who works in fundraising for Best Friends Animal Society, has been opening her home to foster animals for the last 12 years. Like most foster heroes you meet, within minutes of chatting her passion for helping animals is abundantly clear. But there’s more to it than that.

“I definitely feel very connected to animals,” she said.

Sometimes connections can’t be explained. Sometimes the universe reaches out and brings people and animals together when they need each other most. And for Wendy, that was Michaela.

When the six-month-old Schnauzer mix was found in a box next to a dumpster, it was clear she had been left for dead. Imagine a flattened shell of an animal too weak to move—hardly recognizable as a living creature. And the “living” part was questionable. Any emergency veterinarian would not have thought twice about humanely euthanizing her, and two even advised Wendy that would be the best course of action.

However, Wendy had a different outcome in mind and brought Michaela home. She sensed this girl was special; and when Wendy senses that, there is hope—a hope that can’t be summed up in words.

Some of the most beautiful things in this world can’t be seen, like when someone believes in you so much that it spurs you to live. That’s exactly what Michaela found in Wendy—an angel driven by a delicate balance of determination and patience that pushed her to fight. And delicate would be the only way to describe the next few days, as Wendy gave Michaela her undivided attention. Michaela needed feeding every four hours which included only six grams of food at a time, and an ice cube every hour to hydrate without letting Michaela’s little body go into shock. Over the next 18 days, Wendy, and others following Michaela’s story on social media, held their collective breaths.

Witnessing a miracle

But then, on day 19, she raised her head. It wasn’t quite a watershed moment, but it was a start nonetheless. After all, she couldn’t even raise her head to drink over the last few weeks.

“She has an amazing spirit and is a fighter,” Wendy said, adding that she believes animals can sense when someone is fighting alongside them.

Twelve feet. That’s just 144 inches, but the funny thing about miracles is their impact isn’t really measured in distance covered. In this case, it was measured by the will to get up and take a step. And then another. And another. And that’s exactly what Michaela did; she got up and walked 12 feet.

“I exhaled and all of the tears came…it was a huge moment,” Wendy said.

And since that moment, Michaela has continued to gain weight and become more active. She even has a prospective home waiting for her when she’s fully recovered.

Learning through the years

Michaela’s progress may not have ever happened had it not been for Wendy giving her a fighting chance. As the worst “near-death experience” she’s encountered, Michaela’s case tapped into every bit of Wendy’s experience and creativity, like using a snow cone maker to make chicken-flavored ice to give the pup nutrients and help hydrate her.

Over the dozen years she’s fostered, Wendy has earned the title of “Kitten Queen,” a nod to her skill and determination to take in litters of kittens and syringe feed them.

“The longer I’ve fostered, the more tough cases I’ve taken in,” she said, adding that she’s often the last stop for some, acting as hospice care for most fosters.

Yes, there is plenty of heartbreak in fostering, but there is more love. Such as a vegetarian buying cheeseburgers for a dog’s last day on Earth just so she would know what it was like to feel loved in her last hours.

Over the years, Wendy has learned a thing or two about fostering. Like how to tune in and listen to the animal to know when to keep fighting and when not to.

Wendy estimates she’s fostered at least 500 animals over the years. And while she is quick to deflect credit, Wendy also knows fostering truly is her purpose and she’s part of a much larger plan at work.

“There are families that wouldn’t have these amazing pets without fosters,” she said, adding that she hopes her social media presence does more than just raise awareness for animals needing homes but also inspires others to foster.

“People want to be helpful,” she said.

And helpful comes in many forms—donations, assistance with vet bills, and much more.

The Speed Queen experience

In Wendy’s house, two loads of laundry a day is practically nothing. With lots of kitten fosters residing in her home, four to six loads a day is much more typical.

“This washer and dryer pair has changed my life,” she said of the Speed Queen TR7/DR7 pair.

While the results are exceptional, the real winner for her is the speed at which cycles are completed. When you’re feeding hungry kittens every couple of hours, laundry can definitely pile up, and the time savings are a phenomenal bonus to the clean fresh linens.

The machine’s special cycles also play a part in creating a clean environment for her four-legged guests.

“Extra soil, it’s never off,” she jokes about the key setting in her laundry day toolbox, which ensures the best quality care of her animals’ items.

To learn more about the organizations Wendy helps make a difference for, visit Milo’s Dog Rescue of South Florida, Broward County Animal Care, Miami-Dade Animal Services, and Lady Luck Animal Rescue or to follow Wendy’s inspiring foster journey, connect with her here.