The shelter environment can be stressful. It is loud, there are lots of strange people, and a bunch of scared animals waiting for their forever homes. The same scary things go on day after day and some animals just can’t get comfortable in their surroundings. The staff does all they can to make these guys feel at home, but there is only so much they can do. The dogs are there because they had no other place to go and are waiting for their forever homes. They can’t show potential adopters how loveable and fun they truly are if they aren’t comfortable and aren’t able to be themselves. But what can those who don’t work there do to help?
Well, we may have found an answer. Scientists from Carroll College recently did a study on how a sleepover in a foster home affected the cortisol level in dogs- which is an indicator of stress. They also used questions from James Serpell’s C-BARQ questionnaire, which is a validated research questionnaire that asks about dogs’ behavior in everyday situations (Maddie’s Fund). It was found that during the sleepover, Cortisol levels dropped and the dog’s general behavior was improved. While the cortisol levels did go back up once they reentered the shelter, the break definitely helped with their overall behavior and attitude. The dogs would come back with the hope that they were lacking before breaking up the monotony of shelter life.
Animal Care Sanctuary itself has experienced the difference a sleepover makes in our own dogs. Cece, one of our more difficult to place dogs, had weekend sleepovers with a foster that vastly improved her overall attitude when she would be returned to us. She never grew to love the shelter, but she definitely came back to us refreshed and more eager for visitors. Her foster was also more inclined to help our organization overall and market for the dogs that are in our care. The more advocates for these animals, the better the chances of them moving on from shelter life into their forever homes.
The need for fosters- whether an overnight visit or short term stay- is great. We have too many dogs who haven’t known a real home and deserve to experience that- at least for a night. We can not only accept more animals into our care this way, but better care for those who are already with us. Our major goal is adoption and whether you are there to give these dogs hope that they will be adopted or care for them until they find their forever homes, you are helping us to achieve that goal.
To apply to foster with us, please go to https://www.animalcaresanctuary.org/foster-family-program/
Maddie’s Fund: Benefits of A Foster Sleepover
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