Fostering an animal from a shelter is a great act of compassion and love. By bringing a homeless animal into your home, you agree to give that pet love, care, and attention. Usually when you foster an animal, it is for a predetermined period (which can be a few days, a week, a few weeks, or even a month or longer, times vary) or until the pet is ready to be adopted into a forever home.
Why is there a need for foster homes?
- Space issues. A shelter or adoption group may lack sufficient space to house all the animals brought to them. Fostering an animal frees up space in the facility, enabling the organization to take in another animal in need of care and a home.
- Special needs. There are many reasons why a foster home would be a safer place than a shelter: an animal recovering from surgery, illness, or injury; animals requiring subcutaneous fluids; animals requiring a course of medicine; motherless kittens or puppies that need to be bottle-fed; expectant mothers; stressed out or shelter-shocked animals.
- Too young. Kittens should be at least 2 lbs. and eight weeks of age before going up for adoption. If taken from their mothers too early, they should be socialized with other cats as well as humans. They need to learn what it is to be a cat.
- Socialization. Kittens born into feral or semi-feral cat families will need to slowly be introduced to humans. This should happen between four and eight weeks of age. Puppies also should be introduced to other dogs and children with supervision.
- Training. Puppies and dogs are more likely to be adopted if they have received some basic training. The better behaved and house trained, the more likely they are to find a home.
- Emergencies. For example, when Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit Texas, Louisiana, and Florida in 2017, thousands of pets were displaced. Animal shelters, the ASPCA, the Humane Society, and other groups remained in flooded areas rescuing animals trapped in very precarious areas, including horses, pigs, cattle, dogs, and a hawk. Many of these animals were temporarily housed in shelters (some across the country), rescue groups, numerous facilities, and foster homes. In the event of natural disasters, many rescue groups and shelters are in desperate need of fosters to free up much-needed space. This ensures that all animals, both shelter and displaced alike, can receive care until they are reunited with their owners (in the case of evacuated animals) or adopted.
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Reasons to foster
- Time. Shelter animals need time to be ready for adopted.
- Behavior. By fostering, you learn more about the animal’s needs and personality. Many shelter animals act differently in a shelter than they would in a home, and this is especially true for shy critters. This information is crucial in helping that animal find a truly suitable home.
- TLC. Placing an animal in a home environment presents opportunities for much-needed socialization, love, and individualized care. Animals need time to be exposed to and accustomed to new people and pets. It is worthwhile to know, for example, whether a dog or cat does well with children or other pets or would be better suited to a single-pet or child-free home.
Photo courtesy of Pexels
Brownie points if you know where the following quote comes from: “…Dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria!” 😉