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Why You Should Foster a Homeless Pet

chihuahuasatshelterThanks to the internet, there is an increasing level of awareness being brought to the plight that homeless pets face every day in our society. Videos, articles, and social media posts flood the internet every second, that illustrate the continuing problems of shelter overcrowding, unethical euthanasia practices, and rampant abandonment of domesticated animals. While many rescue non-profits, humane societies, sanctuaries, and shelters are making extreme efforts to save animals’ lives, there are still many animals that fall through the cracks. Fostering is a very real way that the community can come together to save dogs, and it also has many other benefits! So, if you have room in your home, you should foster a homeless animal because:

  1. It Provides An Alternative To Shelter Environments – Even the best animal shelters are still shelters – which in general, are very stressful places for animals to live. Not only are there dozens of pets with varying personalities, backgrounds, ages, breeds, etc. all around each other, feeding into each other’s energy; but, they are cooped up in an unfamiliar place (in kennels) and not given the attention or care they require. While many shelters go above and beyond what is expected of a normal shelter’s care (which is usually the bare minimum), it doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s an overwhelming place full of strange smells, sounds, and people. By fostering an animal, you help a pet avoid the shelter and not compromise their emotional and physical health. Even though a foster home is temporary as well, it provides the stability, routine, and attention that even the most progressive shelters fail to provide.catshelter
  2. It Gives the Animal a Chance To Improve – In the average animal shelter system, medical or behavioral problems very often mean euthanasia will be inevitable. Sometimes the issue that the animal has is the reason why it was surrendered to the shelter or abandoned. Regardless of whether or not the animal arrived at the shelter with a pre-existing problem attached to it, there is little chance of recovery inside of the shelter due to the lack of consistency, care, and training that is required for progress to be made. In some cases, due to volunteer support and superb shelter staff, animals can receive the care that they need- but more often than not, even a seemingly minor health problem or behavior spell a certain end due to “lack of resources and funding”. However, when these at-risk animals are rescued and put into foster homes, they can be given the training, medical attention, and overall specialized treatment that they need. Thanks to cooperation between the rescue, foster, veterinarian, trainer, and whoever else is involved, this combined effort will enable the animal to be rehabilitated and adopted into a forever home successfully!DOGCARE_WE_C_^_WEDIQ
  3. It Literally Saves the Animal’s Life – As stated earlier, the shelter system unfortunately isn’t designed to house as many homeless animals as there are currently. In a society where people often abandon or surrender their animals because they’re “too old,” or “too hyper,” or quite commonly because they are moving – the original function that the shelter used to serve has changed dramatically. It seems that the function of these animal “shelters” have shifted from a “shelter” standpoint to a “animal control” agenda – which often means population control. The widely accepted rationale is that there are so many homeless animals, that only the cream of the crop deserve to be adopted, while the senior, special needs, and other “less desirable” dogs should just be euthanized. It is a harsh reality that results in millions of animals being “put to sleep” every year. However, if you foster an animal (even just for a short while), you are taking the possibility of euthanasia out of the equation (unless it is suffering and has an extremely poor quality of life).COMMISSION
  4. It Provides Terminally Ill Animals With a Peaceful End – Although it is sad, being a “forever foster” for a terminally ill animal is a great way to provide a loving soul with a joyful end to their life. Hospice cases are usually the first animals to be euthanized at the shelter, whether they have a serious heart murmur, cancerous tumors, or any such incurable disease. The only thing sadder than an animal passing away from a terminal illness is that animal being “put down” at a shelter –  a cold, unfamiliar, and confusing place – by staff who may or may not give the animal a loving send-off. If you foster a terminally ill animal, you are giving it the loving end of its life it deserves, filled with warmth, kindness, and probably lots of spoiling!seniordogs
  5. Fostering Enriches YOUR Life As Well – It is becoming more and more apparent due to scientific studies, personal accounts, and widely shared experiences that animals literally improve your quality of life. Not only are they linked to reducing stress – which has an overall positive effect on the body due to less strain – but they improve anxiety and depression symptoms as well. Many people have reported that their dog, cat, rabbit, or other pet saved them from committing suicide. The companionship itself is healing for anxiety and depression sufferers, as well as the acts of petting, cuddling, and caring for the animal which provide endless emotional benefits. Also, it just makes life more fun in general due to the addition of another cute, spunky personality to your household. You can also have the comfort of knowing that you are doing your part in saving animals’ lives from the shelter system!personcarryingdog

Basically fostering saves lives – the lives of homeless animals that otherwise would be at-risk for euthanasia, or for developing an illness or behavior problem in the shelter system. There is a high demand for certain types of dogs to be fostered – the “less desirable” dogs – but these dogs have just as much love (sometimes more) to give as the puppies and “high demand” dogs that are trendy and sought after. If you have room in your household to foster an animal (or several), reach out to a local rescue non-profit, humane society, sanctuary, or even shelter that has a foster program. You can also check online via Facebook on the many different networking groups that post animals that are in immediate need of rescue to save their lives. If we all do our part and foster, we can prove that there are enough homes for all shelter animals and euthanasia is not the solution!

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{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Nick February 3, 2016, 7:10 am

    I’ve been fostering for Peak Lab Rescue the last year; I’m on my tenth dog. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and the suggestion that I foster is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received.

  • Pam Mitchell February 3, 2016, 8:19 am

    Great Article thanks.

  • dc February 8, 2016, 10:17 am

    Foster programs are a great augmentation to sheltering for pets who can benefit. But many pets do not do well in a new place whether it is a kennel, a home or a veterinary clinic. We must weigh the benefit to the pet for adoption, too. It’s much easier for prospective adopters to find pets in a shelter open to the public. For some pets it can be detrimental to bond with a new family, only to be rehomed again. The routine, parasite control, regular meals and enrichment a shelter offers homeless animals actually reduce stress by increasing the quality of life of a formerly homeless pet. All that said, shelters should foster pets who are afraid in the kennel to assess whether their fear is situational. Of the 180 million or so cats and dogs in the US, fewer than 6 million see the inside of a shelter in a year. Sheltering is a great way for unhealthy animals with no owner to foot the bill, to get healthy. Sometimes a foster home to provide care is a great solution. Sometimes, it isn’t.

    • VetDepot February 8, 2016, 3:23 pm

      Thank you for your post. Obviously adoption is the more ideal choice, but many times fostering literally saves the animal’s life, when it would otherwise be euthanized for space, minor health/behavior issues, or another arbitrary justification. Like the human foster care system, the inconsistent environment of instability could culminate undesirable behaviors in the long-run. But, in the sense of special needs animals and at-risk euth-listed pets especially, fostering the animal (if done correctly) can do nothing but enrich all lives involved, as well as save many lives.

      • Cat foster February 9, 2016, 9:50 am

        Thank you for your reply to “dc”. This person is terribly uninformed. My suggestion is for that person to become involved with a shelter on a regular basis and see if their eyes have been opened. “Enrichment” ?? Never. Shelters are always underfunded and understaffed. Watching grocery carts full of “the wrong color” or “the wrong breed” of puppies and kittens who are screaming, shaking and whimpering being carted off to be euthanized is heart breaking. Dogs being dragged on a leash to be euthanized is awful. They all know what is happening. They die unjustly, alone and frightened. Wake up, people.

    • Samantha March 5, 2016, 8:49 pm

      I think “dc” has been misinformed about shelters. For the most part, they are over-crowded, terrifying places for animals. The sick and injured are euthanized immediately. Most animals receive no medical care whatsoever in a shelter. Puppies and kittens need to get out as soon as possible so they won’t catch diseases while there. Some shelters will provide vaccinations and spay or neuter if the animal is “adopted”. This is basically the same as being sold as most shelters do not screen to make sure the home is appropriate for the animal or can even provide the minimum of care. They know nothing of the animals’ personality, whether they are housetrained, good with other animals, children, etc.

      If rescue groups can find foster space for these animals, they are given proper medical care and the love of a home until their forever home is found. The foster family learns about the personality and needs of the animal so they can be placed in an appropriate home, not just going to anyone that likes their looks. Animals that are fostered are much more likely to stay in their adoptive homes for the remainder of their lives. A foster parent can tell potential adopters if a dog is good with children, cats, if it is fearful of thunder storms and even how often it needs potty breaks. The potential adopter would know if the animal loves to ride in cars or gets sick at the sight of them, if it is active or a couch potato, if it will be gentle with children or hide from them.

      It is hard to part with them, but many foster parents keep in touch with the adopting families and are available if there are questions after adoption. Many keep in touch for the life of the animal. Fostering is one of the most invaluable things a person can do to truly rescue an animal. They are housetrained, crate trained, taught household manners, learn to walk on a leash and learn that they are wonderful creatures and don’t have to be afraid anymore.

      • VetDepot March 7, 2016, 11:36 am

        YES YES YES AND YES! Samantha, you are AMAZING and I couldn’t have put it better myself. You hit the nail on the head with this comment! 🙂 <3 Thank you for being an enlightened individual and knowing the REALITY of the shelter system situation - not the typical inaccurate drivel that has been fed to us for decades in order to justify the rampant shelter killing. BRAVO!

  • Karen McCombs February 18, 2016, 12:00 pm

    I started out foster for other breeds. Then I stared. My Own rescue Dachshund Idaho Rescue. I really have learned so much. Each foster takes a bit of my heart when they go to forever homes. That is why I do home visits

    • VetDepot February 18, 2016, 12:10 pm

      Awesome! I would love to start a rescue as soon as I have the resources and time necessary. At the moment, I just facilitate rescues by helping other nonprofits in any way that I can. I agree about each foster taking a piece of your heart. Although temporary, each animal has its own distinct personality, and even though you tell yourself you’ll be fine when they leave – it’s always heart-wrenching! LOL

  • Maria Palmer February 24, 2016, 6:02 am

    I have a 12 year old Cairn, so it would have to be a small, mid- older dog.

    • VetDepot February 24, 2016, 1:57 pm

      Is your dog friendly with other animals?

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