Friday, October 7, 2011

Taking Care of Homeless Pets

As times get tough for humans, they get even tougher for the pets we care for. Let's face it, the mortgage crisis forced a lot of families out of their homes, and finding pet-friendly apartments at an affordable price is next to impossible. The lucky pets were rehomed with a friend or family member. The not-so-lucky pets were dropped off at shelters, which are already strained. the really unlucky ones - they were set loose, or worse, left inside the home with no food, water, or companionship, until they died (or were found barely alive - some made it, some didn't.)
I network daily with local shelters and rescue groups, and to say they are in need is an understatement. What they seem to need most right now are good foster homes to help with the overflow of pets that come in daily.
Have you ever considered fostering a pet? Have you thought about opening your home and heart to an animal in need on a temporary basis, until they can move on to their "fur-ever" home? Maybe you thought that you'd like to try it, but you are afraid you'll get attached and will have too hard a time giving them up. Or maybe you weren't sure how it all worked. Or maybe you have pets or kids and are a little nervous as to how they'd get along.
These are really important questions. And there are answers!
Shelters and rescue groups have resources for you. No reputable shelter would just dump a pet on you and leave you to deal with it. That doesn't help you, the pet, OR the shelter! Shelters want to create great relationships with their foster families. They have the skills and experience to guide you through the process.
If you currently have pets, they'll make sure that the pet you foster has been tested around dogs or cats. That does not mean that you won't have to supervise their interactions, or that it will be 100% hassle-free! But experienced shelter / rescue workers will give you tips on introducing the new pet into your home, and they're there to answer questions for you every step of the way.
Fostering is not forever! The upside to that is you get to enjoy all of the fun of having a new addition to your home, knowing that you're saving a life, and they will soon have their "furever" home. You can make that possible! The downside, of course, is saying goodbye. That can be tough. But you can make the transition easier by always keeping in mind that you're really just watching a pet for a little while, helping it on its path to a loving home. Will you get attached? Of course. But the pain of saying goodbye is tempered by the joy of knowing you saved a life. And of course, you can then foster another pet in need, and save another life!
Cats and dogs are in the most need when it comes to foster homes. But I have also seen rabbits, ferrets, rats, lizards, and snakes needing foster homes. If you have some experience with those types of animals, why not foster?
If you live in Northeast PA, and you are interested in opening your heart and home to a foster pet, contact me and I'll be happy to help put you in touch with area shelters and rescues in need.
To those who work in animal rescue - I salute all you do for homeless animals!

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