In our last post we talked about the joys of adding a new furry member to your family by way of adopting. Adopting is a fantastic way to find the newest member of your household whether young or old, big or small, furry or not so furry. Adopting saves not only the life of the one you’ve taken home, but also allows space for another animal in need.
While I am sure most of us have a hard time resisting the urge to add a new cat or dog, the reality is that good responsible pet ownership can be expensive. Proper food, medical care (preventative and those possible emergency appointments), and supplies can add up pretty quick. Having room in your home and heart aren’t the only things to consider.
For those of us who have room in our heart and home, why not consider fostering?
What is fostering?
Fostering isn’t a lifetime commitment, but it is a commitment that can give a lifetime to a n animal in need. Many rescues do not not operate out of an actual building; instead relying on a strong network of foster homes to provide the shelter, love, and structure to help homeless dogs and cats find their forever homes. Many rescue organizations provide everything you could need (food, supplies, all medical treatment, etc) and only request that you provide the same love and care you would to your own pets.
SPCAs and shelters often look for foster homes for animals too young, old, sick, or scared to handle a shelter environment. These animals need the love and attention from a home setting to thrive and prepare themselves for adoption. Sometimes they only require a few days with other ones needing to stay longer.
On a few occasions, Dr. Gina has taken in abandoned or injured cats needing care (you can read about their stories HERE). While some have stayed at the clinic for treatment, others have blossomed in foster care while waiting for their special family to come.
How to Foster
Everyone in the household should be including in the decision to foster a pet, and to decide what type and requirements you’re able to provide. Things to think about are:
- Are there any small kids living in the house or visiting?
- Are there resident pets and how do they get along with other animals?
- Do you live in an apartment? How long are you home each day?
- Are there any medical/behavioural issues you’re comfortable working with in your foster?
- Can you provide an isolated room for the foster? (common with cat fostering)
A home where the family is gone all day may not be suitable for some pets, but a senior might enjoy the quiet relaxation during the day and be up for cuddles and a walk after work. Some may prefer living with other animals; others may prefer living in a pet-free household. When filling out the foster application, be completely upfront with all concerns and/or requests for the animals that come into your home. The foster coordinator can help find the right dog or cat for your situation, but only if they know the whole story.
Fostering is one of the most selfless gifts an animal lover can give a needy pet. Watching them blossom under the safety and security of your home is an amazing feeling for any animal lover. Watching an animal move on that you’ve welcomed into your home can be hard and there are certain things to help you through it:
- Remember the end game – your mission (should you choose to accept it) is to provide care and comfort to a pet until their forever home appears. Think of yourself as a halfway house; halfway between the life they left and the life they deserve.
- Keep memories to revisit – for each foster keep an imprint of their paw and a few pictures in an album or keepsake box. As the collection grows, you’ll see how many you’ve been able to help because you’ve let each one leave.
- Join a foster support group – this gives you a chance to share advice, get support, and have a shoulder to cry on. They will always be someone there.
Not Quite Ready to Foster?
Are space and time restrictions just too tight to comfortably take on the addition of another pet in the house? Don’t worry, there are still plenty of ways to help homeless cats and dogs in your community!
- Sponsor or Donate – Your money will be used for their daily care, supplies, food, training, preventative and emergency medical care, transportation and operational costs. Most SPCAs and humane societies are not funded and rely heavily on public generosity (and fundraising).
- Volunteer – dog walking, cat socializing, cleaning, emailing, application checking, home visits, record keeping, animal transporting, fundraising *deep breath* volunteers do it all with thankful shelter and rescue staff behind them. It’s so true that animal rescue is a largely volunteer based operation and every single bit helps.