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FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – With animal shelters filling up, the City of Fort Worth is taking an unusual step to keep homeless pets alive.

“I love dogs,” Linda Martin said emphatically as she petted the lab/pit bull mix dog sitting at her side. “I think I like dogs more than I like most people.”

Martin found the dog she was petting by the side of the road. “Lucy, Lucy,” she said softly as she stroked the soft, blond fur.

Lucy had been hit by a car. “Her injury is back here on her hips and then she had scabs on her finger and they’re coming off now.”

But Martin didn’t want to leave Lucy at the animal shelter. She said, “I would have been afraid that she would’ve been put to sleep.”

Martin volunteered to become the City of Fort Worth’s first animal foster care home as part of a program begun this month.

The city provides medical care, food and training for the animal. Volunteers provide a home where injured animals can heal.

“The investment for the city is very small but the outcome is very large,” said Brandon Bennett, head of Fort Worth Code Compliance.

In all, some 23,000 animals a year pass through the city’s shelter. There’s isn’t the time, space or manpower to deal with injured or frail animals properly. The city hopes foster care will mean animals previously destined for death will now be able to heal until they’re adoptable.

“What I can tell you is where our live release rate now is around 85-percent. It gets really hard to get to 86 or 87,” Bennett said. “But we believe with our foster care program we can push our live release rate to 90, 95-percent.”

Lucy will be the programs first foster care rescue. martin said,  “With love and care and attention and brotherhood she has come a long way.”

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