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Fostering – A Rescue’s Lifeline

Fostering – A Rescue’s Life Line
By Martie Petrie and Ken Guild
Published in Pet Press

There he was, looking up at me.  “Help me,” his longing, brown eyes said to me through the cold, metal bars.  “If you pass over me, like so many before you, I will surely die in this place.”  I looked at his kennel card and the little Terrier named Wilbur with an injured leg had been there far too long, his time was up and he was due for euthanasia within 24 hours.  I knew that we had crossed paths for a reason.  There was that “connection,” despite the fact that there were so many other cell mates in the same predicament that day, he was the one that tugged on my heart strings the most. Our rescue did not have room for another dog, but I felt that somehow, someway, if I just helped “buy” this little one time, if I could just help him live, even for a few more days, surely a human family would “find” him and he would help complete their home.

Emaciated, underweight, but very eager to please, this little guy did not seem to know his leg was injured and seemed just happy to be alive. You see Wilbur had been run over by a car which  and the incident had left him “de-gloved,” the fur on his front paw had been ripped off to the bone and this, unfortunately, lessened his chances of being adopted by the public. Not many people are eager to take on the responsibility of a new pet that would require medical treatment. I desperately called everyone I knew that could possibly take on this little guy to buy him more time. Luckily, I found Jonnelle who said she would convince her husband to let Wilbur stay with them while we networked him and took him to mobile pet adoptions. Jonnelle was successful in convincing her husband to foster Wilbur and was also willing to change Wilbur’s bandages everyday even though the vet offered to change them every week for us. Well after three weeks Wilbur had won Jonnelle’s heart and she could not bear the suspense that was caused by us taking him to mobile pet adoptions and wondering if he was going to get adopted.  Jonnelle ended up adopting Wilbur and has no regrets.

Although we were a bit disappointed that we had lost a foster parent for our rescue, we were very pleased that Wilbur got a wonderful home! You see foster homes are crucial for small rescues that have no kennels. Some rescues do not believe in replacing one cage with another and prefer to place dogs in a home environment to acclimate them and better prepare them for their new “fur-ever” home.

Foster parents can also contribute immensely in placing rescued dogs in appropriately matched homes. By observing their fostered dog’s specific personality traits; essential information necessary is gathered which will help the rescue place each dog in the right home.

During the transition phase from shelter to home, rescued dogs require emotional support. A foster parent must provide a nurturing atmosphere that includes shelter, exercise, and most importantly, love. It takes a special person who can provide all of this for a rescued dog and then give them up when a permanent home is found.

Being socialized in an “at home” environment helps orphans to become better prepared for their new home and allows them to “show” better when taken to adoption events because they are used to being around people.  Foster parenting helps because if the orphans are not adopted right away, they have a “safe haven” until the right home is found.

Many rescue organizations will provide all the food and required medical costs, the Foster Parent provides the care and attention that these poor orphans need.

There are other advantages of fostering a pet. Many people are unsure of how their present pets will react to the additional member of the family, and fostering is a great way to see if they get along with other dogs in the home. In addition, some people may love pets but may want to travel certain times of the year and they may not want the additional stress or cost to board or take their pets with them. Fostering gives the freedom to have a companion on a part time basis.

Fostering can also help parents decide if their children are ready for the responsibility of having a pet. We recently had a situation where a woman had a teen age boy that was autistic and they had to put their dog to sleep. The mother waited a while and suggested that they get another dog since their previous pet brought the boy out of its shell when he was walking and interacting with the dog. The boy refused to get another dog as he was afraid of losing another friend, but the mother convinced him to foster dogs as a way to help save shelter dogs and to give back to the community by supporting animal rescues. This became a win-win situation for everyone. Dogs are being rescued and an autistic boy is being helped though his affliction.

As the cold weather season approaches, foster parents can mean the difference between “life and death” for many shelter pets.  Many shelter pets have lived a life of abuse and neglect that is exacerbated by the noise, stress and alienation these pets feel in the cold and lonely shelter environment.  As a result, many animals begin getting depressed, stop eating or develop other health ailments.  A warm home with tender loving care can help many animals that are on the mend from surgery or other special-needs situation.  A warm home can give them a reason to “get up in the morning,” and continue to want to live.

In the spirit of the upcoming holiday season, won’t you consider fostering an orphaned pet and “buying” it some much needed time until a “fur-ever” home is found? It may be a short time, it may be a long time, but it is “time” which waits for no one, especially a pet on Death Row. Why not make a difference this holiday season and give the gift of life and foster a pet today?

Martie Petrie and Ken Guild are Co-Founders of Ken-Mar Rescue.  If you are interested in becoming a Ken-Mar Rescue Foster parent, please CONTACT US! or you can go to this page to see how to foster a Ken-Mar orphan. The life you save will thank you for it!