Robust foster care programs saves the lives of pets already born

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Foster care gives dogs like Chucky a place to stay while waiting for adoption or transport to a new city to find a home.

Spaying and neutering dogs and cats is all about prevention. If we can reduce the number of litters being born into a community, we can reduce the number of healthy, adoptable pets being euthanized for lack of homes.

Foster care is about helping the animals already born and relinquished to an animal shelter or rescue group. It’s a program that gives animals that might otherwise be euthanized for lack of space, a place to hang out until they are ready for their new homes.

Animal shelters and rescue groups with proper resources can introduce a robust foster care program into their life-saving line-up. We’re not talking about a few volunteers taking in a dog or cat every now and then. We’re talking about a program with several hundred volunteers willing to open their homes to a homeless animal once or twice a year for a temporary and/or fixed period of time. That’s what’s so great about fostering a pet; you can dictate how often and for how long you can help, making it the easiest volunteer work for busy people.

When people step up to foster a pet, it can have an amazing impact on the community. “If less than two percent of pet-owning households in the U.S. fostered one pet a year, we could eliminate unnecessary euthanasia in animal shelters tomorrow. That is a pretty startling statistic to most people,” said Susanne Kogut, president of the Petco Foundation. “We believe if people understood the incredible impact they can make by fostering and that it is an easy and fun experience, more people would do it.”

Kogut practices what she preaches. Even though she travels for the Petco Foundation and has six adopted dogs of her own, she still finds time in her schedule and space in her home to foster dogs throughout the year. Recently, she fostered six-month-old Chucky who just needed a place to crash while he waited for a transport to take him to the northwestern part of the U.S. (Transport programs move adoptable pets from animal shelters with high euthanasia to animal shelters with low euthanasia (thanks to people spaying and neutering their pets) and with more time and space to find pets new homes.) While with Kogut, Chucky learned how to sit, walk nicely on a leash, and get along with other dogs. His brief time in Kogut’s home has made him a better dog for his future family.

Foster care programs are a win-win for everyone. When volunteers foster a dog or cat, they are not just helping that animal but opening up additional kennel space for another homeless animal. The animals who generally need foster care include neonatal kittens and puppies who need to be bottle-fed and time to grow before ready for adoption; adolescent pets who need socialization with people or other animals; senior pets who need extra time to find a home; and sick or injured pets who need a place to recuperate before adoption.

Foster care volunteers are most needed in the summer months when animal shelters take in more pets than they can house. Fostering a pet is a great activity for families off over the summer since older kids can help with the pet’s basic care.

For more information on fostering a pet, contact a local animal shelter or rescue group near you. Animal shelters won’t let you foster a pet though, if there are other pets in the home not sterilized. Be sure to fix your pets. Check out our spay-neuter clinic finder for a clinic near you.