What is Pet Fostering and How Can it Help Save a Shelter Pet’s Life?

Owning a pet, especially a dog, is something that brings millions of people joy each day of their lives.  However, for quite a few would-be pet owners, the situation does not turn out well.  Witness the vast number of animals dropped off at animal shelters, turned loose on the streets or given away each year. 


If you are considering taking on a cat or dog in your home, but are unsure about whether the animal will suit your family, the best option might to foster one.


What is Pet Fostering?


Fostering an animal means that you temporarily adopt a pet from your local pet shelter.  The animal comes to live with you, and very often the shelter will give you free food to feed him or her.  As soon as the shelter finds the pet a real home, you must return the animal. 


If you fall in love with the pet yourself, you may also be permitted to adopt it by paying the regular adoption fee to secure it for your own family.  So either way, you are guaranteed a positive outcome to the situation.


Why Foster?


So why foster?  When you foster an animal, you free up cage space in your local shelter that will allow them to take in another abused or abandoned animal.  One thing that very few people know is that shelter animals are only kept a certain amount of time.  If nobody adopts the animal within a set period of time – ranging from one week to two months – the pet is euthanized to make space for the next animal. 


At current rates, almost half of all animals given to shelters are put down – one every four seconds in America.  "No Kill" shelters do exist, but such shelters are almost always at 99-10 percent capacity and often have to turn away dozens of homeless animals every day – animals which almost always end up at ‘Kill’ shelters.


How Fostering Helps Shelters


By fostering an animal, you are basically saving it from being put down to make space for another animal.  Beyond saving the animals’ life, you are allowing the shelter to take in another homeless animal that itself might have had to be turned away or put down due to lack of space.  So you are helping two animals by fostering the one. 


Shelters are always extremely grateful to find animal ‘foster parents.’  If you have the time and space to foster animals all year long – taking in another animal as soon as the first is adopted – you will be a big hero to the rescue center and you can save up to a dozen dog and cat lives a year.

How Fostering Helps You


Why would you want to foster a pet rather than adopting it outright?  There are lots of reasons that this might work for you.  For instance, when you foster a dog, you will be able to test the waters with the dog and your family, so to speak.  If you have never owned a dog before, this will give you the chance to see if you have the time required to care of one.  You will also be able to determine if you have the patience and temperament for such a pet.


Finally, fostering a pet might be a good option for those with allergies.  This would allow you to have a pet in your home for a short time to see how different breeds affect your allergies or those of your children.  You could then determine which type of pet would be best for your family.  If it doesn’t work out, you can return the animal at the end of the fostering period.


If you want to foster a pet, the first step is to contact your local rescue organization or animal shelter, and ask if you can foster a pet that is due to be put down that day.  While you may not have access to the wider choice you’d have adopting one outright, there will be zero cost to you and you’ll have the cozy knowledge that you really did just save an animal’s life.

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