Being a foster pet parent is a unique and extremely necessary role. It is a role that I have been honored to fulfill for many years now. When people think about fostering animals, they tend to think of bottle babies or animals with a medical issue. The reality is that if we could have every animal in a foster home instead of in the shelter, we would! There would be more adoptions and fewer animals ending up with behavioral or physical problems that result from stress of shelter life.
I am pretty willing to foster any animal in need, provided they can get along with my personal pets. I have fostered so many bottle babies I have lost count. But I also have a major soft spot for seniors. I have fostered feral kittens in need of socializing and dogs with fear of strangers. I even foster perfectly adoptable animals that just need somewhere to go for a little while.
By committing to foster an animal, you can do so much more than just give them a place to sleep. You can train them, socialize them, provide them with more love and attention than shelter staff have time to give. You also become that animal’s ambassador for adoption. We can only do so much to spread the word about our adoptable animals. You can reach out to friends and family members. Share your foster pet’s story on social media. Take them to adoption events and let people know just how great that animal is.
One of the biggest reasons I hear for not wanting to foster is that whole having to “give them up” part that comes at the end. Think of it not as “giving them up” but as “giving them hope.” You help find them the perfect family and give them a life they may not have had without your help. And then you give hope to the next animal in need. The feeling you will get when you see your foster animal find the person they were meant to be with is like no other feeling. It is a sense of purpose.
Now that I’ve talked you into at least considering the idea of fostering, let me tell you about my current foster dog, Lou. Lou is not an ACS dog, he came to me from a shelter I used to volunteer with when I was in college. He came to Allegany SPCA with his littermates when they were 5 months old. They were essentially feral, meaning they had no socialization to humans. Lou has had a tough time finding a patient family that will take the time to teach him how live with humans. As his foster mom, my job is to give him as many skills as possible so that he will have a better chance of finding a forever home. Now I’ll be honest, when it comes to socializing dogs, my two personal dogs do most of the work. Lou draws confidence from the other dogs. He is more willing to try new things if he watches them do it first. He has already mastered house training and crate training. We are now working on leash walking, handling and just general obedience. My dogs are also helping Lou learn how to make friends with humans other than me. If he were still in the shelter, he would be hiding in the back of his run, unwilling to seek any human contact.
There are so many animals like Lou that would benefit greatly from a foster family. Research has shown that even short term fosters are extremely effective. I’m talking commitment of only a month. If you want to enjoy the love and companionship of a cat or dog, but you aren’t ready to have one for the next 15 years, consider fostering! You won’t regret it.
Apply online at https://www.animalcaresanctuary.org/foster-family-program/ if you want to make a difference in a shelter animal’s life.
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