Pet ‘Net: The Joys of Fostering Animals in Need

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!

Former Foster Mel takes over his forever family’s shower!

Former foster Maggie Mae has full reign of her new family’s place!

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.

O’Malley is a handsome FIV+ kitty looking for his forever home in Austin, TX.

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!

Toni is a happy-go-lucky 8 year old pit bull looking for her forever home in the Austin area.

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.

Angel is a gorgeous 6 year old pit bull looking for her forever home in Austin, TX.

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.


This is the third part to our Pets Add Life posts: Part I & Part II

Giving Thanks for Fur

With Thanksgiving and the Holiday season upon us, we have quite a bit to reflect on and much to be thankful for. In our household, we are constantly reminded of how lucky we are to always be surrounded by unconditional love from our furkids. The look of adoration from our oldest dog, the sweet kisses of a cat curled up in our laps, the warm, furry foot-heater of a little dog at the end of the bed – we are surrounded every day by the faces we are most thankful for. It’s true when they say, “Who rescued who?” I don’t know where we would be without them.

So in our final Pets Add Life post, we are taking the time to look at some of the silliest things our cat Merlin has done this past year. You’ve probably seen photos of Merlin here or on our Facebook and Twitter account. He’s a gorgeous classic tabby cat who, for the most part, believes himself to be the greatest of all tigers – proud, noble, distinguished.

Well… for the most part. 😉

Bag or box, Merlin doesn’t care. All he sees is a great place to sit.

Merlin hiding in the smallest box he can find.

Here he is attempting to jump through hoops a giant dog cone. Good job, kitten.

Oh silly kitten. We love you. 🙂

Pets Add Life for Kids too!

Kids and animals go hand in hand! I’m super excited about this so I wanted to make sure to include it in this post. Pets Add Life is doing their 5th Annual Pets Add Life Children’s Poetry Contest! If you’re a teacher, grades 3rd-8th or parent, enter your kids in the 5th Annual Pets Add Life Children’s Poetry Contest for a chance to win these awesome prizes:

  • A $1,000 scholarship for each winning student’s classroom
  • A $250 gift certificate for pet products
  • And, a “by·line” in a nationally circulated magazine!

How fantastic is that? In all, 6 children will be chosen as winners. And it couldn’t be easier to enter! Kids simply write a poem about their pet and the joys they bring, and post it online. You can find more of the details over on the Pets Add Life Children’s Poetry Contest page. Good luck! The deadline is January 31, 2013!

Also be sure to check out the past winners – these kids are so talented!

This post is sponsored by the Pets Add Life campaign and the American Pet Products Association. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about the benefits and joys of pet ownership. We wanted to join the campaign because the message is right up our alley.

Emergency Foster Needed for Toni!

Urgent Need for Foster Home!

Hi everyone! We are in need of some help and fast! Do you remember Toni, our beautiful pit bull foster that we had through Austin Animal Center for several months? Well she was adopted into a family and everything was great for awhile! Unfortunately, they moved into a new place and the landlord is insisting they “get rid of her”. Poor Toni! So now we have an emergency situation! If we cannot find Toni a new adopter or foster by the end of the month, i.e. THIS FRIDAY, she will have to be brought back to the shelter! Now AAC is great, but they are BEYOND FULL right now and yes, they have been having to put down adoptable dogs because of it. That is not something we can fathom for our sweet Toni girl! Unfortunately, we now have our new foster pit bull, Angel, (plus our 3 foster cats) so we really do not have space to foster Toni again. That’s where you come in! Even if you can’t commit long term to foster Toni, could you take her for a week or two? We will keep searching for a more permanent place for her but we need to keep her out of AAC if we want to ensure her safety. Once she’s back in their system, they make all the decisions and we have no control over her fate.

Now I have to tell you in all good conscience that her adopters have reported that she has recently begun chasing and possibly “trying to bite” people outside of her family. This is NOT the Toni we fostered but she was around someone else’s border collies that chased people so that is probably where she picked up this bad habit. Again, this was not people in her family, but occurred when she was accidentally left outside and allowed to roam freely. They have been cautious and putting her up when people come over. Toni is crate trained, so this shouldn’t be an issue. I can honestly say that Toni was not people aggressive in the least when she was with us so this is a relatively new issue that I believe can be corrected with the proper training. She even went to huge dog events like the Texas Sized Pittie Pride Parade where she was around hundreds of dogs and people with NO issues. That is why we are having her adopters fill out a behavior assessment and are in contact with Tara Stermer, owner of Training by Tara, who previously worked with Toni when she was at AAC.

Training by Tara Help for Toni!

The best news to come of all this? Because Tara loves Toni so much, she is offering two FREE personal sessions to anyone who fosters or adopts Toni! As someone who specializes in bully breeds and dogs with aggression, this is huge! It is exactly what Toni needs and I am sure she will be back to her old self in no time. So please, please spread the word about Toni! She is a great dog who was awesome with our own dogs! In fact, her favorite was Rufus, the little maltipoo! She played sweetly with my nieces, ages 3 and 6, with no problems, and currently lives with a 1 year old baby. She just wants to be by you and have her belly rubbed! Our only concern with her is cats, so she’ll need a foster or adopter with no cats. Also, yes, she still does have heartworm, but the shelter is no longer able to provide vouchers for heartworm treatment. There are several low-cost clinics that can do it, however, and we will be more than happy to help raise donations to get her treatment once she has a long-term foster or forever home. All of her issues are small and can be handled so please don’t let any of this scare you away from her. She is quite the catch, I promise you! Watch her video below to see just how great this girl really is!

If you can help us with Toni, please let us know by commenting below or by emailing us at And be sure to share this post on your FB, Twitter, etc. because you never know who will be able to step up! Thank you!

O’Malley’s Day at the Vet

Hey everyone. As some of you already know from Facebook & twitter, I had to take O’Malley to the vet today. See, two days ago he threw up clear liquid, probably water. There were no problems yesterday but when I went in to feed him this morning, there was another large puddle of clear liquid. I cleaned it up and since he still acted hungry, I fed him. He only ate half of it and then threw up his partially digested food maybe 20 minutes later. At that point I called the vet and got him an appointment for tomorrow morning, with her saying if he got worse that they’d fit him in today. Well 5 minutes later he threw up again so I called and she told me to bring him in. All this time I was trying to keep Nikki up to speed via IM while she was at work and was crying because, like you, I hate when my kids are sick. O’Malley being a foster makes no difference. He is our kid until he finds his forever home! So off I go to the vet, after asking for some pawcircle and healing thoughts from our friends and followers.

At the Vet

After a lot of questions, Dr. Jill, our amazing vet, decided to run some bloodwork on him. With cats vomiting like this, it’s always very important to check for signs of pancreatitis. This is a very dangerous inflammation of the pancreas that our youngest cat, Satsuki, had after eating some crappy cat food as a treat. She had to stay overnight on fluids and all sorts of medications and it’s very scary. Come to think of it, I should make a Pet Parent Files about it. Anyway, that was our first concern. Vomiting can also dehydrate a cat very quickly so he was given a bubble of subcutaneous fluids to help rehydrate him. O’Malley’s bloodwork came back all normal. Like nothing out of the ordinary which is good. Dr. Jill ran some extra set of tests to check for all the levels that could suggest organ issues. So it looks like his pancreas, liver, kidneys, fluids, all that is good. Then they took him for X-rays to see if he had an obstruction, such as some string or a toy or anything he might have ingested. We were pretty sure this wasn’t it but you can never tell. Even when you think you’re keeping a good eye on cats, they can still be sneaky. They took two X-rays and Dr. Jill didn’t see anything obvious on them.

The Diagnosis

So it doesn’t look like he has pancreatitis and it doesn’t look like he has an obstruction. This is good news. For now his diagnosis is gastritis. So, the lining of his stomach is inflamed. Of course, this doesn’t mean we know the cause. That’s the problem with symptoms – they can mean so many different things. Anyway, we’re assuming something has upset his stomach but not caused pancreatitis. So Dr. Jill gave him 3 shots. One was an anti-nausea injection so that will hopefully make him feel better. The second was an antacid to calm his stomach if anything is going on in there. And the third was an anti-inflammatory injection. I believe it was a steroid injection, just a small dose. This is in case there is some inflammation going on in his pancreas. Just in case it’s still there and not showing up in the bloodwork. That’s how serious you have to take pancreatitis. But other than that, she sent him home with a bland, prescription diet food to give him for a few days to help calm whatever may have been upsetting his stomach. We just have to feed him a little tonight and watch him for vomiting. If he does, we take him back in the morning for, I assume, more tests and more medication. If not, then we keep watching him and hope everything returns to normal.

So, yes. Please keep him in your thoughts! I know he’s felt all the love pouring in for him already! As always we’d like to thank the wonderful Dr. Jill and the nice people at Animal Care Clinic in Round Rock for caring for our kids and helping us with the cost of fosters when they can!

How You Can Help!

The total bill for all of this came to $314 (you can see a copy of the bill here). Normally Nikki and I try to raise the money in advance since we learned the hard way you can’t always make it back up. In an emergency, though, you just can’t wait. We then just try to pay for it out of our own pockets and raise money. This time we didn’t have enough, both of our bank accounts combined, so we applied for Care Credit and put it on that. We’d like to be able to pay it off before we accrue interest (26%, Yikes!). So yes, it would be wonderful if y’all could help us raise the money for this. O’Malley will also need his routine vaccinations when he’s feeling better. Thank you for your continued support. Know that it makes a difference in all of their lives! Toni & the kittens (Maggie Mae & Mel) have loving homes because you helped them out until they found their forever families. We really appreciate it!

As you can see, the ChipIn amount is for $325. This is because his clinic exam and vaccinations from Animal Trustees of Austin is $34. We only added $10 to the amount though because Jenn McKibbin donated the first $25 to O’Malley’s vet care. The direct link to the ChipIn is here. Thank you again, from us and O’Malley.

O’Malley’s Story

You can check out all of our foster O’Malley’s story here (or start here for the first chapter). He’s had a rough road, but full of love and support. And he’s looking for a forever home. Check out his video below.

Thank you!

Please Help Our Sweet Merlin

A Plea for Merlin

Hi everyone. This is strange for me because we have never asked for money for our own kids before. It has always been for fosters and even then only when we really needed the help. We have shared many ChipIns for other people’s personal pets but we have always tried to just muddle through on our own when it came to us. But this time, we really need your help.

As some of you may know, on Monday night, around midnight, Merlin had a seizure. It was one of the scariest things of my life and even as I was going through the motions of finding & calling the emergency vet and driving us there, it was like I was in a daze. I was shaking the entire time, even making signing for his care at the clinic difficult. My heart beat didn’t slow down for nearly 24 hours. Seriously.

Merlin had to have blood work done and had to stay at the clinic overnight to be monitored. That bill came to $368. When we picked him up in the morning, we took him to our regular vet. She watched him for us that day for free, because she is wonderful, but we still had the exam fee and she also did an FIV/FelV combo test on him. That bill came to $80. So we spent a total of $448 in less than 24 hours. We had to and we don’t regret it. Merlin is one of our children and we will do everything we can for him. But that was money we barely had.

Our vet recommended that we take him to a cardiologist to get an echocardiogram on him as the next step to diagnosing what may have caused his seizure. There are so many potential causes for seizures that it’s crazy. Our vet feels that, due to his history, the echo is the next best step instead of just blindly guessing and doing expensive titers. The echo should give our vet an idea of where to start looking. Besides, Merlin has needed an echocardiogram since last year.

A Little Backstory

Back in May of last year, right after our move, Merlin went into a terrible downward spiral. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Merlin wasn’t even 3 years old yet and was at death’s door. Our vet gave us medication to help his heart and to get the huge amount of fluid off his chest but we were basically told to take him home and give him comfort as he died. He could have a heart attack at any moment. We took him home and kept him next to us for days. Every time he had a panic attack because he couldn’t breathe due to the fluid on his chest, we cried and told him he could go if it hurt too bad. Every night before we went to sleep, we told him we loved him and said our goodbyes. Every time we woke up during the night to check on him our chests were tight as we strained to see if he was still breathing. And every time he was. And every day he grew stronger. And ate more. And got irritated with us being so concerned over him. And slowly, slowly, we weaned him off of the high dose of the Lasix (fluid medication). When we first brought him home, he was on SIX a day! Now, for several months, he has been maintained on only 1 Lasix a day as well as his 1/4 of Amlodipine (heart medication).

Until this seizure, our boy was back to being his usual self and you couldn’t even tell he had a problem. He eats & plays & causes mischief. Our vet was amazed at how good he looked when we took him in the other day and couldn’t stop saying it. Merlin fought hard & we fought hard and we are not giving up! If this is what Merlin needs, then he will get it! But we need your help. We are tapped out and this is not something that can wait. I have an appointment scheduled for him next week on Tuesday, Feb. 28th.

We Need Your Help!

So we have 5 days to raise $450. Please help us if you can. We will be eternally grateful. We put a lot into the animal welfare world and now we need to ask for a little back. But I swear to you that we will give it back again 10 fold. Animals are our lives. And this boy is our baby. Please help us find out what is wrong with him so we can make his life as good as it can possibly be! Thank you!

You can also check out the ChipIn page.

Everyone who donates will get a thank you from us on this post, on our Facebook (2170 fans) and on our twitter (18,500 followers). If you want us to link to your twitter account, be sure to give it to us in the notes of your donation. If you have a business that you’d like to promote on ILRA, NOW is the time to do it! We are offering 3 months of advertising, normally $255 for only $200 if you mention that you’re doing it for Merlin. And I’ll throw in a shout out on FB & twitter as well because we will be so appreciative! Is there anything else you want me to do for you in exchange for helping Merlin? Just ask and we’ll see what we can do. We have to do this for our boy. So please, please, help him. Thank you.

Thank you to these wonderful donors:

Stephanie Minck of
Winnie Pickens
Kayla Spencer
Cain Demumbra
Stefan Schindler
Leslie Olyott
Rhonda Pickens
Jennifer Kelly
Patty White
Emily Jeske
Will Shoucair
Lost And Found Dog Rescue Adoption Center
Mackenzie Case