The pet overpopulation problem is real. Most people see this, but many don’t realize how they can help. Fortunately, there are many ways one can get involved. Simply spaying or neutering an animal is one way to make a difference. Another way is to adopt from a Humane Society, other shelter, or a local rescue group. Sadly, the Humane Society of the United States reports, “only about 30 percent of pets in homes come from shelters or rescues.” For those that want to do even more, there is fostering.
Fostering comes in many forms. The term, “foster care,” when applied to animals, refers to care for orphaned, stray, ill, or otherwise un-homed animals. Foster care implies care for a term, not forever, which would be termed an adoption. Fostering could be caring for a litter of kittens until they are weaned, treating an injured animal until healed, or caring for a terminally ill dog until his quality of life is no longer good. Fostering for a shelter or rescue group often simply means to provide housing for and care for an animal under that group’s control until that animal is ready to move on to the next step, which ultimately would be a forever home.
Fostering a pet from a rescue of shelter has many positive effects. Fostering allows dogs and cats to be socialized in homes, reduces stress, decreases the incidence of illness and spread of disease, and even allows ill or injured animals to recover more quickly and get personal attention they might need. A dog or cat that is fostered is more likely to be placed in an appropriate home as the foster parent will know more about that animal and will be able to help ensure a good match.
A good foster is hard to find. There are many challenges that foster caregivers face. At the top is emotional attachment. Some people don’t foster sick or older animals because they would be too sad if the animal died. For others, the attachment to the particular animal becomes so strong that one wants to adopt the fostered animal. A good foster parent wouldn’t be tempted to adopt their foster pet unless there’s a very good reason because often doing so limits one’s ability to foster other animals.
If you are interested in becoming a foster, the first step is to educate yourself more on the rewards and realities of fostering. There are many resources available on-line that tackle the subject more in depth than the scope of this article is able. The second step is to connect with a local shelter or local rescue group. There are numerous rescue groups that are in South Florida: Coastal Boxer Rescue, Pets In Distress, and A Better Life Rescue are rescue groups that I’m aware of to name a few. For more information on how you may be able to help, contact the rescue or shelter directly. “You cannot do a kindness too soon, because you never know how soon it will be too late.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson