It happens frequently enough. Someone sees a post of a dog or cat at an open admission shelter in need of rescue and something strikes a cord about that animal. So, they step up to foster, maybe for the first time, to help save an animal’s life. Fosters are people that take homeless pets in and provide them with shelter and love while they wait for a home through a rescue.
Fostering saves lives – the life of the pet you take in and the life of the pet still waiting on borrowed time or waiting for a space. For many people, it’s an immensely rewarding experience, but what happens when people volunteer and then back out of their foster commitment?
“We’ve been burned enough by people saying they will foster a dog and then they back out,” says Megan Albright, founder of the Blackdog All Breed Rescue in Glenview. “They’ll go down to Chicago Animal Care and Control for a meet and greet and it goes very well. We’ll pull the dog and take it to our vet to be spayed or neutered and be checked out. Then, the foster walks away and there is no place for the dog to go but a kennel or boarding facility.”
“We have used vet offices and boarding facilities for backup in the past,” says Erin Lamparter at Lulu’s Locker Rescue, a group that takes in both cats and dogs. “But, boarding dogs and cats at these venues costs us more money than we are able to afford; they are therefore an absolute last resort. We find that we do have success finding new, immediate, and more affordable foster care reaching out to our caring and supportive Facebook community to find a solution if a foster home falls through.”
Although the animal is now safe, kenneling is often less than ideal. In most cases, a dog or cat has been pulled from a kennel-like atmosphere at a shelter and now they are being moved into a similar situation.
Need for homes
“Regardless of the origins of our cats and kittens, we know that a loving home environment is best suited to meet their needs,” says Cindy Ruback of the Chicago Cat Rescue, another foster-based organization. “Caging our cats and kittens imposes greater emotional stress on them, impedes their ability to exercise their bodies, may expose them to more illness and prevents us from learning as much as we'd like about our animals' personalities and temperaments.”
There are many benefits to foster homes. The biggest is that organizations get a better feel for what type of long-term situation will be best for that pet – children/no children, other pets/only pet and more. Some animals may have had little exposure to living indoors or have come from bad situations and need the time to recover and get ready for a forever family.
Albright’s organization has quite a few dogs either at boarding facilities or in doggy day care during the day. She points out that at least in day care, dogs are getting more exercise and attention, depending on the facility. It’s become a necessity for her rescue, but not the most ideal situation
“People want to take the dogs from death row. What about the dogs losing their foster homes after they have been rescued that no one wants to help out,” adds Albright. “So many rescues have dogs in boarding. We see all the urgent cross-posts for CACC and I think it’s great we’ve saved so many dogs. I’d really like to see more rescues work together and get more of the boarded dogs into foster homes.”
“While in foster care, our cats tell us about who they are, and what they need to be happy and content,” adds Ruback. “We focus a great deal of attention on our cats and kittens' needs for feline companionship, as roughly nine out of ten cats (of all ages) prefer to have a feline mate. Ideally, the information that best enables us to match cats to our adopters' homes comes out of our foster parents' experience of our cats.”
Moving pets out of kennels and veterinary offices, open the door for those animals to settle in and be themselves in foster care and makes them more adoptable. There are cases, of course, where a pet being fostered may not be a good fit for the family that took them in – maybe the animal doesn’t get along with other pets in the house or isn’t child-friendly. In those cases, the dogs and cats will also need new fosters as well.
All three organizations are in need of fosters at this time. Learn more about the Blackdog All Breed Rescue online, check out foster applications and follow them on Facebook. Check out Lulu’s Locker Rescue online, learn about fostering and follow them on Facebook. And, check out the Chicago Cat Rescue online, learn about fostering and follow them on Facebook as well.