Despite some bizarre weather throughout the U.S., from Hurricane Irene and earthquakes along the East Coast to record-breaking extreme high temperatures in the South, it is officially back-to-school season. Parents everywhere are bidding adieu to their college-bound children, many of whom will be home “alone” for the first time in 18 years. But what to do with that spare room and extra time? There is an easy and very rewarding answer available – foster a pet through your local animal shelter.
Fostering allows animal rescue organizations with facilities to take in pets that need a little extra TLC, whether that be medical or behavioral. Many rescue organizations operate only with the help of volunteer foster parents, as they don’t have building and facilities available to house animals.
Fostering gives animals a second chance at life, something for which they will be forever grateful.
Austin Pets Alive!, whose foster program currently houses 671 animals, asked their volunteers why they choose to foster, and here are just a few of their responses:
“I foster dogs because I believe everyone should have a dog and my foster dogs have simply not been found by their forever owners yet. Dogs are always happy to see you. They are so funny to watch. They will come sit next you when you are sick or troubled. They are good company when you are alone. Dogs will join in your fun. They want to be with you. Each dog I foster is meant for a certain person or family. I am just the caretaker of these pets until they are found and adopted by those people. The people the dog will love forever. I foster dogs as a service to the new owners, not just the animal.” – Lisa M.
“Fostering is the most rewarding thing I think I’ve ever done – going to the shelter and getting that cat out of its cage, knowing that instead of being carried to the euthanasia room you are carrying her home, giving her a soft bed, kind words, some food and water, and watching her go from a scared, depressed, abandoned cat to a happy, playful, energetic kitty… it is just unbelievable the resilience of these animals and their desire to stay alive and love humans despite their often difficult pasts. Personally I prefer fostering very sick cats, the ones that most people say ‘probably should be put down’ but that APA says ‘lets give him a chance.’” – Lindsay O.
“Wow…why do I foster? I foster because every single one of the approximately 50 pups I have fostered now would have been dead if not for me and my family agreeing to help. I take the baby bottle babies, the ones with prolapsed colons, the ones with major reconstructive surgery needed, the post parvos, and the emaciated needy ones. I spend countless hours bottle feeding, nursing them back to health, etc. but I never once feel put out by it because the unconditional love they give me back is simply amazing. I hear people say how lucky each puppy was to have me…it is the other way around. Each puppy has impacted me in a profound and amazing way. Each puppy has filled my heart with even more love than I knew I could fit in there. It is not easy loving them so much and then sending them on to their forever home. BUT…it is the happiest times for me when I get updates, see them, their pics, etc. and get to see how happy and healthy they are now. Being a foster is the MOST REWARDING part of my life!!!” – Faith W.
“I foster for the joy of having a 6 week old kitten fling himself into my face to rub noses. FLING, pace across chest, FLING, pace back across chest, flop across my neck and PURR.
I foster for that moment where a scared, sick cat first stretches her head out, asking for a chin scratch. She’s not sure she’ll get it, but she trust me enough to ask. There’s that first contact of skin to fur, followed by a deep purr as she realizes I’m not here to hurt her. I foster for that painful moment where you have to say good bye, holding on to a small paw to let him know he not alone, that he’s okay, and that I love him. I foster for that moment of discovery when a tiny kitten figures out that a bottle means food! There’s that second where the eyes get wide, a tiny purr builds up, and then the ears start wiggling with glee. I foster because there’s nothing out there that makes me more aware of the joy that life brings.” – Clara S.
So what are you waiting for? Reach out to your local animal shelter and see if you can help foster today!
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By Melissa Miller, Austin Pets Alive!