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.

The Case for All Dogs From a Rescuer’s Perspective

Hey all! It’s been quite a while since we’ve posted anything other than our usual series but I recently read a post over at BlogPaws that prompted a writing spree. I started trying to write a comment but quickly realized I had a lot to say! I feel it would help to at least skim the post to see where I’m coming from.

I’ll start by saying I understand the very basic point the post is trying to make but it seems to be stretching to prove that point. We here at ILRA are certainly advocates for rescue but we have always recognized that there are some good breeders out there. On our site we say “We advocate always choosing adoption over buying an animal. (Note: We do not condemn responsible breeders but still feel you should consider adoption first.) We have no preferences for mixed breed or purebred animals as both can be found in shelters and rescues.” I once read an article about how truly responsible breeders practically lose money on it what with all the genetic testing, vet care, vaccines and hours of work they put into making sure each and every puppy is properly socialized. I wish I could find that post again because that was the one that finally cemented in my mind how I feel about responsible breeding. The problem is, responsible breeders as I define it probably only optimistically account for about 10% of the breeders out there, and probably something as ridiculously low as 1% of the dogs.

RufusI will never understand why a responsible breeder would fight legislation regulating the breeding of dogs. If, as the post suggests, breeders love a dog so much because of its history and how much it meant to a nation or a people, or even if it’s based simply on the characteristics of the dog, then they should care that breed standards are kept up to par. Regulation should in NO WAY affect a responsible breeder because they would A. Be taking proper care of their dogs and thus B. Not be breeding a huge number of dogs at once. Regulation is almost always based on the number of breeding bitches or total number of breeding dogs a breeder can have at one point in time and set a minimum standard of care for the animals. If this regulation comes anywhere near affecting a breeding operation then I can’t help but posit that that operation may not be as responsible as they would like people to believe. In order for there to be proper time, care, and attention given to selecting the right animals to breed, to ensuring that their temperaments are taken into consideration, and that every puppy is properly raised and sold to the right people, there HAS to be a limit on the number of dogs any given breeder can have at one point in time. Anyone needing more animals to make more money is not in it for the breed but for profit. Dogs become a commodity at that point, not a beloved breed representing tradition and heritage. That is what a puppy mill is. If you are truly in it for the breed, then you should ALWAYS be against puppy mills and should support legislation meant to bring them to an end. You should want there to be licenses required for breeding dogs so there aren’t backyard breeders out there diluting the breed standards and having no regard for temperament – one of the MAJOR reasons pit bulls have such a bad rap right now.

I was particularly taken aback by the author’s nonchalant way of throwing out what is actually a very reprehensible attack. “I’ve always known what we as individual dog owners stand to lose if animal rights groups have their way…” Excuse me? You want us as animal rescuers to look at breeders individually and recognize that there are responsible ones but you just lump every single one of us together? Yes, that is what I rescue animals for and why I support animal rights. Because I want to take away everyone else’s rights. That is my ultimate goal. It’s about screwing people over, not helping animals in need. Come on now. If you want to be taken seriously, leave the insults at home. As I’ve said, I believe there really are good, respectable breeders out there who LOVE the breed and want to preserve what is good about it. They are animal lovers as well and I can’t see them being so brazenly hateful towards other animal lovers. Many truly responsible breeders set up or at least volunteer for breed rescues. They care about the dogs first and foremost, and they appreciate that animal rescuers are doing the same thing. If you want people to respect you, you first have to extend them respect. We may not always see eye to eye on everything but if we attack each other, we’ll get nowhere.

SnarfAssuming that slant was not thrown in there, the author has some valid points about why SOME people like purebred dogs. I, myself, am fascinated by the histories of different breeds. I certainly have my favorites and would love, at some point in my life, to share my life with some of them. But I’m not adamant about HAVING to have a purebred “just because” and I will only ever get those breeds if I happen upon them in a shelter or rescue. And that’s the real issue here. Most people don’t care about a breed’s history or even their characteristics. People get a purebred dog because they just saw the latest cool movie or some celebrity toting around their newest fashion accessory dog. It happened with Lady & the Tramp, 101 Dalmations, the Obama’s getting Bo, Paris Hilton carrying a chihuahua around in her purse. Most people do whatever is popular at the time and don’t even bother to look into what the breed is like. They just have to have a certain breed of dog but never even realize the special characteristics that dog has that might make them a bad match for their lifestyles. Most dogs do not have jobs anymore but, yes, they still have it in them to perform those jobs! Responsible breeders make sure that people have the correct lifestyle to let that breed be what they are meant to be.

The problem is there are too many irresponsible breeders and puppy mills out there, flooding the market with ill-bred dogs that people then dump at shelters because they didn’t know what they were getting into in the first place. And none of this is the dogs’ fault. I don’t think you could find an animal rescuer anywhere who would say they hated a purebred dog. Did the dog have any choice in that? No. So it’s ludicrous to suggest that anyone thinks the only animals worth saving are mixed breed. Again, sounds like author has a chip on their shoulder for one reason or another. Any responsible breeder, i.e. actual animal lover, should be glad that animal rights groups want to be rid of puppy mills. That would mean less dogs would die unnecessarily. See that? DOGS. Less mutts AND less purebreds. And THAT is what matters. And let’s be really, truly honest here: ALL dogs are mixed breed dogs. How do you think breeds are made? Ah yes, that’s right, by crossing different dogs together until you reach the desired outcome. All dogs are mutts, and ALL DOGS deserve to be saved.

Killing Kangaroos – Is It Ethical?

I recently came across an article while perusing the Twitterverse about how 6000 kangaroos are being killed by the Australian army in Canberra. At first glance, the title makes one fly into an instantaneous state of shock and anger. Then I read the article and I came away from it with a sense of unease and confusion. Why the change of emotions? Well, the article says that the kangaroos are being killed because of overpopulation and because they are causing harm to the ecosystem. Now I’m not going to try and argue if this is true or not or if this is just another excuse for humans to kill (6000 out of 9000 does seem a bit steep). Taking what the article states as fact, I think, brings up an important philosophical debate. The claims are that the kangaroo population is too large to be sustainable and that they are having a negative impact on the area – “The killings are intended to protect endangered plants and insects that share the grassy habitat with the kangaroos.” It says that they are also “threatening endangered reptiles, the grassland earless dragon and the striped legless lizard”. Now here comes the obvious to ask but not to answer question: should they? And that is what I asked when I retweeted the link. I got a response from @kdavenprt, which is where I got the original story from. The conversation went like this:

kdavenprt: Know there are arguments for and against. Absolutely hate the thought of this, it breaks my heart.

RescueAnimals: I hate the thought, too. But if it is true, then it does seem to be a choice btw them and many other species. How do you decide?

kdavenprt: I know, it’s so sad. I have no idea how to make a choice like that. I know they have to do what’s best for all species.

And therein lies the philosophical debate. How does one choose one species over another? True, in a complete, untouched ecosytem, this wouldn’t be a problem. Before all the top predators were eradicated the kangaroo numbers would have been kept down naturally. There would have been a balance and people would not have to step in to reduce the numbers of one species to help save others. The problem is, however, that humans DID interfere. We made it so that certain species were able to breed beyond their means and thus are having a heavier impact on resources than they would naturally. Because it is our fault this happened in the first place, is it our job to try and correct it? Assuming all the facts are straightforward and the kangaroo population will grow so large that they’ll start to starve to death but not before destroying the environment around them, what is the ethical thing to do? Bear in mind that while many of us outside of Australia think killing a kangaroo is downright despicable, in the Australian ecosystem, they have about the same role as deer do elsewhere. Now I personally would not want either of those animals to be killed but in answering this question, try to keep that bias to a minimum. This isn’t about kangaroos. It’s about the difficulty in trying to decide what the right thing to do in this case is. Should we fix our mess or should we try to just let nature take its course from here on out? How do you answer such a question? Can we ever truly know what the right choice is? Please leave comments and discuss it with us!

The Starfish Effect

One of my favorite stories of all time is that of a person walking along a beach after a big storm. As they walk they stop and pick up starfish that had been washed ashore and toss them back into the ocean. Another person comes along and says, “Why are you even bothering to do that? There’s so many that you’ll never make a difference.” The first person bends down, picks up another one, tosses it to safety and says simply, “It made a difference to that one.”

This story has so profoundly shaped how I live my life. I can’t remember where or when I first heard this story or even who told it to me but the impact is no less felt. To me, what this story tells us so simply is to do what you can. No one can save the entire world. No one can save every homeless animal out there nor can they stop all the cruelty in the world. What we can do, however, is make small differences in the world. We can choose to adopt a pet rather than buy one. We can volunteer our time to help a shelter or animal welfare organization. We can donate what we can afford to charities that support causes we care about. We can teach the world’s children that animals need to be treated with respect. If we can’t afford anything else, we can still help spread the message and reach people who have the means but might not have even known there was a cause needing support. The important thing to remember here is that you should never feel like you can’t give enough therefore there’s no point in even trying. Anything that you give will make a difference and if everyone in the world would just do one tiny thing to help animals then the change would be tremendous! And the world may not ever be perfect, but the difference we make will be felt by each and every individual animal that we save. And isn’t that worth trying for?

The Starfish Effect: it’s a very powerful concept.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We believe in this idea so much that we’re making it our philosophy and it will have its own page. Do you have any stories that relate to The Starfish Effect? Any story about how you or someone you know has done something that might have seemed so small and yet the end result was so profound? Share the story with us! We can’t wait to hear what you have to say!