A few years ago, the vet we went to at that time, Dr. Parker, called to ask for a favor. There had been a fire at an old abandoned home the night before. The firemen had found a litter of 3 kittens and their mom inside. The mom cat was pretty badly burned and Dr. Parker was taking care of her. But the kittens needed their mom and were too little to be on their own. Would Mom and Dad take them and care for them until they could survive on their own - or until their own mom got well? Mom and Dad talked about it for a bit and then said yes. And that is how we got Tatiana, Katie, and Cobweb and became a foster home for needy pets.
Mom brought the kittens home and showed them to everyone. She explained that the shelters did not have the time or the people to care for kittens who were only a few days old and completely helpless. If we did not care for them until they were big enough to survive on their own, they would die. By caring for them, we could possibly help them find forever homes. So they moved into a crate in Mom and Dad's bedroom. Mom put a gate across the door to keep the rest of us out. And Oscar adopted them as his own "puppy-kittens" and slept outside the gate all the time and snapped at any of our own cats that tried to go in Mom's room.
It was hard for Mom and Dad to find time to feed and clean and care for them, as well as take care of us, and work. But they did it. And eventually, all three of them grew up to be healthy and were adopted by forever families of their own.
Of course, once the local shelters and vets found out that Mom and Dad were willing to foster needy animals, we have had several more pass through our house. Some were just old and were going to be put to sleep like Angel, the chihuahua who came to live with us until she died. Some were small and needed extra care like the next litter of kittens, Simba, Duchess, JoyBelle, and Buddy. Simba and Duchess were just too small and sick and didn't live very long. But JoyBelle and Buddy made our house their home. Buddy got cancer and died last year. But JoyBelle still sleeps next to me every night. Some have health problems like Kora, the new dog we are caring for right now. She has a problem with her hip that makes it hard for her to walk and makes her hurt sometimes. Right now, she has to take pills to help with the pain everyday but Mom and Dad say there is surgery that can help her and are trying to find a vet that knows how to do it and are saving the money to pay for it.
We have had many pets pass through our house since we first took in Tatiana, Katie, and Cobweb. Angel, Peasebottom, Puck, Webbie, Lucky, Delilah, Marmalade, Peaches, Bubba, Ginger, Chubbs, Tinker, Ringo, Smokey, Bogart, George and Gracie, Ariel, Presto, and many others. Some stayed for a few days or weeks or months. Some just moved in and became part of our family. Mom and Dad loved them all. I liked some of them better than others but tried to be nice to all of them (okay, most of them.).
Why do Mom and Dad foster pets? Because they love animals and know that while they can't adopt every dog or cat or rabbit or whatever that needs a home, they can help many animals be adopted that otherwise might not be. There are lots of animals that need temporary homes for a lot of different reasons until they can be adopted:
■Puppies and kittens that are too young to be adopted
■Nursing cats and dogs
■Ill, injured, disabled or other animals that may need regular medication or medical attention
■Dogs in need of socialization and training in a home or family environment
■Any animal that is highly stressed in a shelter, particularly older dogs and cats
■Previously abused, neglected or abandoned animals that need to form a healthy bond with people
■Animals displaced due to natural or other disaster awaiting reunion with their families
By being a foster pet home, we give them a chance to find a home and love instead of being euthanized.
Could you be a foster pet parent? Pet fosters need the cooperation of family, as well as flexibility, patience, a compassionate nature and some knowledge of animal behavior. Many shelters provide their fosters with training, as well as information about the pet’s temperament and medical needs. Most also provide essential supplies, such as food and access to veterinary care.
There are many wonderful reasons to become a foster pet parent:
■Privilege of offering a needy animal a safe, comforting and supportive environment while it waits to be adopted, or reunited with family following an emergency, natural disaster or military deployment
■Help socialize a shelter pet to enhance its adoption potential
■Reduce the animal’s stress, which improves its adoptability
■Enjoy the benefits of pet ownership if you’re unable to keep a full-time pet due to lifestyle or other restrictions
If you would like to become a foster pet parent, contact your local shelter, SPCA, humane society and local rescue groups to learn about specific opportunities in your community.