I think it’s clear if you’ve been fans of I Love Rescue Animals for even just a short time, that we’re pretty big supporters of fostering animals, which is why we’ve chosen this topic for this year’s Pet Net event put on by Petside. We have had experience both fostering through a shelter as well as just on our own, and each time we have had the pleasure of connecting a dog or cat with their own forever family. It’s an incredible feeling to know that you are not only helping an animal in need, but also a family in need.
For the Love of Fostering
I’m not going to lie. Fostering isn’t always easy. Yes, it’s more mouths to feed. Yes, you have to work to get the animal out there so they can find their forever home. Yes, you will fall in love with them and then have to let them go. Yes, it will take some time and commitment. But all of that pales in comparison to the rewards. If you’ve never fostered then it’s hard to truly describe the feeling of seeing your foster kid find their forever home. If you have, then you know it’s a feeling like no other. It’s bittersweet. You’re going to miss them, of course. We’re animal people, how can we not give our hearts to every animal that crosses our path? But you have just given that animal you love the chance to spend the rest of their life surrounded by people who will cherish them and give them the life that all animals deserve. You did that! There’s no more potent a natural high!
Want to Foster? Here’s How!
So how do you get started? Well, if you’re like us, you kind of stumble into it. We always joke that we’re the people that have animals just come up and knock on our door. And that’s actually not far from the truth. They just find us. They scratch on our door at all hours of the night. They run down the street outside our house in the middle of a downpour. We find them hit by a car and left to die on the side of the road. We don’t have to go looking for an animal in need because they just come to us. But even if you’re not a stray animal magnet, it’s very easy to find animals to foster. Just check out any local shelter or rescue that you’re interested in helping. They will be more than happy to help you become a foster for them!
Most rescues can only help a number of animals directly proportionate to the number of fosters they have so it’s extremely important for them to continue growing their foster base. The benefit of fostering for a shelter or rescue is enormous. Most times they will pay for all of their vetting, offer support when you’re feeling lost, and set up adoption events or TV spots so you can get your foster animal seen. It can be a struggle to do that on your own, as we have discovered time and again. We are lucky to have an animal community that has donated to many chip-ins to help us care for our fosters but having a formal support system is much easier and ultimately less stressful. You can usually find plenty of information about fostering on a rescue’s website and you can often find photos of animals in need on their Facebook page or on twitter. Some rescues have forums you can sign up for where they post lists of current animals needing a foster. Or you can just go down to the shelter in person and ask about becoming a foster and look around to find your foster animal.
Who Should I Foster?
Not exactly sure which animals you’d like to foster? The foster coordinators will help you find animals that would be a good fit for your home! You don’t have to wake up every hour on the hour at night to bottle feed a litter of orphaned kittens to make a difference. (Hats off to those that do!) There are foster animals for every situation.
Do you have great dog training skills? Foster a dog with behavioral issues to make them more adoptable. Love cats and want to teach your children about life? Foster a pregnant momma kitty and let her have her kittens in your loving home rather than a stressful shelter. Can you only foster for a few weeks? Consider a litter of puppies who are already eating on their own but need just a few more weeks to reach the appropriate age for adoption. Are you open to a longer-term foster and can attend adoption events? Grab a “less adoptable” animal, such as one that’s older or black or special needs or a bully breed and put your full resources behind finding it the perfect home that it probably couldn’t find without you. Not really into cats or dogs? Foster a ferret, a guinea pig, a rat, a rabbit! They are out there and they need you! Every single one you help matters!
Be Their Voice, Be Their Angel
So yes, there are plenty of excuses why you can’t foster. But none of them will matter anymore if you just try it ONCE. Yes, it will be hard to let go. You’ll miss them. Each and every one. You might say you can’t do it again. That it was too much work. Too time consuming. Too hard on your emotions. And then you’ll see that face. An older dog at the shelter whose time is running out. A bunny who has just come from a home where it never received any attention. A litter of bottle baby kittens whose only hope is a committed foster. And you’ll notice suddenly that all those thoughts fly out the window. Because you’ll realize that you are the one that is going to save that animal. You will be their guardian angel. You will be their foster parent. And both of your lives will be changed forever. For the better.
The ILRA Fosters!
Did one of our fosters in this picture grab your attention? Interested in adopting one of them? Angel, O’Malley, and Toni are all looking forever homes! If you’re interested, just comment or email us with information about yourself and let us know! You could give one of these gorgeous faces a forever family all their own.