There are many great reasons to rescue a pet. These benefits range from the tangible to the intangible. These benefits have far-reaching consequences that extend beyond your home. When you adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue, the following are just some of the benefits you will reap for yourself and your new furry best friend.
The most obvious benefit of saving a pet is gaining a new companion for you. Studies have shown that having a pet makes people happier and reduces stress levels. Pets provide unconditional love and are always there to lend an ear or give a snuggle. If you live alone, having a pet can make your house feel less lonely. You will always have someone to greet you at the door when you return home. Pet owners are not only happier; many studies show that they live longer.
You also save money when you rescue a pet rather than buy from a pet store. Pet stores charge hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of dollars for a pet. Adoption fees vary upon your location and what vetting the animal has received, but most adoption fees are under $200, and some may be as low as $20. Animal shelters are overflowing with purebred pets. Many times the animal has been completely vetted, to include vaccinations and sterilization surgery. You get a healthy pet at the fraction of the cost, and you get the satisfaction of knowing that you saved a healthy pet that may have otherwise been euthanized for simple lack of a good home.
When you rescue a pet from a shelter or animal control facility, you save more than just that one pet’s life. You also make room at the shelter for another needy pet to come in off the streets or get away from a neglectful or abusive owner. You also help cut down on the pet over-population epidemic. Many shelters and rescues have pets spayed and neutered before they can be adopted out.
Estimates show that between four and seven million healthy pets are euthanized in the United States every year for the simple lack of a good home. Only one in ten cats ever born, and one in eight dogs ever born find a home in their lifetime. When you rescue a pet, you help a loving animal that otherwise wouldn’t have a chance at life.
Fostering a Pet
The statistics are well-known: five million companion animals annually enter shelters and an average of 70% of them is euthanized, according to the American Humane Society and other organizations. Most of these pets are adoptable, but overcrowding in the nation’s 5,000 shelters prevents them from being cared for until a forever home is found. Pet fostering developed from this sad circumstance and has evolved into a multi-faceted program.
What is Pet Fostering?
Pet fostering means you house and care for a pet while he either can’t be at his home or he can’t be held in a shelter. You feed, exercise, love and sometimes train the animal. You take him to necessary veterinary appointments and sometimes to adoption events if he’s eligible. Some organizations have foster pet parents screen potential adoptive parents, which means you’ll need to talk with interested adopters, find out their experience with pets, and decide whether they are a good match for your foster pet.
Why Foster a Pet?
Some people decide to foster a pet after the loss of a beloved pet, when they do not feel ready to replace their beloved friend. Fostering gives them a chance to care for animals without taking on the responsibility of pet ownership while they are grieving.
Other people fall into pet fostering as a way to try out different kinds of pets and make a more informed decision about which kind of pet they would like to own. By fostering different sizes or breeds of dogs, for example, you can get a feel for breed personalities and figure out what size dog is right for you. If you’re thinking of fostering before you get a pet, inquire about foster to adopt options, where you can adopt your foster pet should you fall in love.
The emotional impact of fostering is monumental – you’re helping save an innocent animal’s life or giving him a safe home during a difficult time. Maybe you’re not sure you’re ready for the long-term commitment of having your own pet. Fostering lets you test the waters. It teaches your kids responsibility or gives you a great way to meet people in a new community.
Shelter overcrowding remains a common cause of pet fostering. After surgery, pets that need a safe, clean recovery spot are often placed with foster families. Some animals stop eating due to the stress of living in a shelter; a foster home often keeps these pets alive. Foster families with training skills are trained to take in a pet with a behavior problem, such as jumping or chewing, to correct the issue and make the animal more adoptable. Pets displaced by natural disasters or deployed military owners are often left in the care of fosters until their family can take them home again.
What Does Fostering Cost?
Most organizations pay for any veterinary care required, and some also pay for food. This keeps out-of-pocket costs for fostering minimal, in most cases.
Many pet foster parents invest in other items for their foster pet, such as a pet bed, pet toy, harness, or special treats. It’s really up to you.
If you have pets in your home and want to add a foster pet, it’s a good idea to purchase a pet crate or use pet barriers to keep the foster pet separate from your pets, until the foster pet can adjust. Most foster pets have come from animal shelters, where they may have been abandoned by their prior owners or picked up after being a stray on the streets. They need a quiet place to rest and relax – plus some TLC and pet treats!
One warning: In some cases, foster pets may cause property damage. An anxious pet may chew a pillow, or pet accidents may soil a carpet. If you’re worried about property damage, a crate can contain your foster pet while you are at work, reducing the potential for damage.
The major costs of fostering are time and the emotional toll. Many foster animals need round-the-clock care. Screening potential adopters and going to adoption events represents time (and, potentially, money for gas). Training and bonding with your foster pet takes time, too.
It’s easy to get attached to these animals, making relinquishing them tough. It gets easier with time, and the knowledge that you helped these pets find forever homes fills part of the void they leave behind. Plus if you are lonely, you can always make room for a new foster.
How Can You Foster?
Contact your local animal shelter or the ASPCA for any foster programs they run. Your veterinarian may be able to put you in touch with a local program, especially in locations without a community shelter. Several organizations exist specifically for pets of military families.