WHAT IS FOSTERING?
According to the ASPCA, approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter United States animal shelters nationwide every year, 3.2 million of them being cats. To help combat this large volume of animals brought into shelters, animal fostering has become a way to keep more rescues in homes while waiting to be adopted, instead of cages. Additionally, it’s a way to free up room in shelters so workers are able to save and care for more rescues. Fostering also benefits particular animals who would not do well in a shelter environment but may be able to thrive and be adopted out after experiencing a normal home atmosphere. One of the biggest benefits of fostering is helping to decrease the amount of animal euthanasias. If less than 2% of pet-owning households in the U.S. fostered one pet a year, we could eliminate unnecessary euthanasias tomorrow, according to the PetCo Foundation.
If you’ve ever considered fostering, chances are you’ve had a lot of questions that come with the thought; How do I start? Does it cost me anything? Will I be able to do it, physically and emotionally? We sat down with a seasoned animal fosterer, Anne Mauro of Raleigh, North Carolina (where 9 out of 10 animals in a shelter are euthanized) to get those questions answered.
Hopefully it answers some of your questions!
Q & A
Question: How long have you been fostering?
Answer: 5 - 6 years.
Q: What made you want to foster to begin with?
A: Since I was probably in my teenage years, I just knew that’s what I was supposed to do. I just love animals so much and every single thing that has to do with an animal, whether it’s happy or sad, just makes me cry all the time. (laughs) If I see something that needs help, there’s no way that I can’t not help.
Q: About how many cats do you think you’ve fostered now?
A: I calculated close to 65. With all the mothers and their kittens, it adds up to about that. It’s a lot.
Q: How does the process work? I’m sure it’s different with every shelter you partner with but what are the basics?
A: When you work with a shelter, basically, when you go into it, you have to go into it saying you have the space to keep these animals separate from my own (animals). And if you don’t have your own, you have to have enough space and resources to take care of them. Most shelters and rescues require that you cover pretty much everything except for the vet care. So like, litter, food, toys, treats, anything extra besides vet care you have to be able to cover it, emotionally and financially.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about fostering?
A: I guess for me it’s just being able to help make a difference. Maybe for other people it’s being able to spend time with cats and I like cats and I like spending time with them but for me it was just always being able to make a difference in the life of a living being. And just do something good and just make their life not as miserable as it could be. Being in a shelter must be traumatic for them.
Q: What is your least favorite thing about fostering?
A: You have to be prepared for bad things to happen and to be able to deal with them. There are a couple of kittens that died on me. There are sick cats everywhere. And if you get a cat it can be sick or it can be chronically ill and you have to be able to deal with giving cats medicine. As much as you don’t like to see it, they suffer sometimes. You have to be okay with handling that. You have to not let it get to you too much that it makes you not want to do it.
Q: You have to have a strong stomach with it?
A: Yeah, exactly.
Q: What’s one thing that someone thinking about fostering should know before they commit to it?
A: That it’s really hard. It’s like you go to work 8 hours a day and you come home and it’s just as hard. You work just as hard to make sure that they are healthy and happy. You can get cases where you have to really work with the animals to get them to a point that they are adoptable. If they’re feral cats that need personalized time, you have to be able to take the time to do that. You have to be willing to give up a lot of your life to make that happen. It’s really very hard. It’s time consuming, resource consuming, stressful but it’s rewarding too, more so than those other things.
Q: How has fostering deepened your love for animals?
A: It made me feel what they feel. I don’t look at an animal anymore and just see a creature that’s lesser than me. I love them all equally and I believe that they all deserve the same respect that humans deserve. I love all animals and it’s changed the way I see them cause I’ve learned so much about them and how amazing they are and how adaptable they are, just how much they can deal with compared to humans. If we had to deal with being shut in a cage, or having ears that are infected all the time... they are so much stronger than we are. And it’s awesome.
TAKE THE NEXT STEP
If you’ve decided you want to take the next step and care for sheltered animal, there are a couple things you can do to get started:
1. Call your local shelters and rescues
Foster programs and requirements will differ depending on where you live and the shelter itself. Making that initial call is a great way to get an idea of how the process will work for you and your fosters!
2. Web Search Foster Programs
As we all know, most days you can find just about everything you need online. A lot of these fosters will have a ton of information and even the pets you can possibly foster listed online. Just do a search for your area and start exploring!
MEET ANNE'S CURRENT FOSTERS
Callie is 3 years old. She loveeesss to play and loves to snuggle on your lap. She is incredibly sassy and does not enjoy being picked up or touched anywhere other than her head and upper back. She would not do well with kids or loud households. She likely would be best as the only pet in the house. She loves to bird watch and spend time on the screen porch. She’s the sweetest girl ever. She came to us feral and her improvement is beyond anything I ever hoped for. I never expected her progress to be as amazing as it is.
This is Jasper. He is 2. He is the most playful, snuggly babe you will ever meet. He loves everyone. He needs a home with an energetic family that will spend time playing with him and snuggling him. He would do well with another energetic cat or a calm dog. He’s such a cutie and nudges you constantly for pets and loving.
She is 14 years old. Her previous owners wanted to send her to the shelter where she would be euthanized because they were moving so we took her in. She does well with calm cats. She used to live with dogs. She is a very old lady who loves sleeping on her heating pad all day and snuggling with humans when she gets a chance. She gets the zoomies quite often and loves to play. She is partially blind in one eye so when playing she needs people to move a little slower so that she can see the toys. She’s such a sweetie. She also LOVES catnip.To learn more about these kitties and if you are interested in adoption, please contact Anne Mauro at firstname.lastname@example.org.