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The Gift Of Fostering Animals

Have you ever wondered where all of the young animals at shelters are? Why you’re more likely to see dogs and cats over a newborn kitten? What about the sick animals? It’s obvious that shelters and rescues don’t just receive fully adoptable animals, but also antisocial, sick, and underage ones. So where are they? I […]

Have you ever wondered where all of the young animals at shelters are? Why you’re more likely to see dogs and cats over a newborn kitten? What about the sick animals? It’s obvious that shelters and rescues don’t just receive fully adoptable animals, but also antisocial, sick, and underage ones. So where are they?

I remember scrolling through social media one day and coming across a page I had never seen before. It belonged to a lady named Cindy and she posted all about her experience fostering kittens. This wasn’t really anything I had been educated on before, but I felt instantly drawn to the fact that I could be helping animals just like her. My mom took me to our local animal shelter and we inquired about their fostering program and signed up for the class. The next thing I knew, we were heading home on a rainy November night with four three-week-old kittens that all had upper respiratory infections from being out in the cold. That night was around five years ago, and there hasn’t been a dull day since.

There are always an abundance of animals in need of fostering, and it’s always important about what you think will work best for your family and your lifestyle. If you want to get started fostering, here are some things to expect.

Bottle feeding my foster kitten, Timmy.

If it’s summer and you have a lot of time on your hands, you can consider bottle feeding. Bottle feeding orphan puppies or kittens is one of the greatest gifts you can offer to a shelter or rescue because of how often they come in and how much care they need. Animals will typically need to be bottle fed from the ages of zero to four weeks or until they are able to eat food on their own. While it may seem like a lot of work, all that you really need to do is provide a bottle to the puppies or kittens every few hours, with more space in between feedings as they grow. Bottle feeding is my personal favorite thing to do. There’s something so rewarding about knowing that you’re the reason this small puppy or kitten will get to grow up and have a second chance at life, one they wouldn’t have had if you didn’t help them.

If you don’t have as much time on your hands but still want to help, you can foster kittens that are just under two pounds and need a foster for a short amount of time before adoption. This is what a lot of people start out with because of how simple it turns out to be. Kittens four weeks and older already know how to use a litter box, eat on their own, and are hopefully growing at a steady pace. This means that your role as a foster is easy because all you have to do is socialize them, feed them, and clean up after them. It may not seem like much, but being in a home environment with people and other animals will immensely help with the kittens being socialized versus them being at the shelter and not interacting with people as often. A plus side for you: getting to play with kittens all day!

Crimson finds his confidence after being abandoned in a box.

If you have a little more time on your hands and don’t mind the extra work, fostering puppies could be for you. There’s something so special about fostering puppies. The late nights and early mornings can be draining, but when you see how much they grow and develop sweet personalities, it’s all worth it. For puppies, you will typically have them from the ages of around four or six weeks to when they are eight weeks old. This will give you plenty of time to begin socializing, potty training, and crate training so they have a head start when they go to their adoptive families. Fostering puppies immensely helps shelters, and the puppies themselves, because it can be scary for small puppies to be surrounded by all of the commotion at shelters, and in foster homes, they are able to be with people more and have their needs met faster. Fostering puppies isn’t only a special experience, it’s also super fun and really livens up your home.

Badger enjoys an afternoon out in her puppy stroller.

Lastly, you can decide to take on the sometimes difficult task of fostering an adult animal that is either sick or has social issues that need to be helped in order for them to be fit for adoption. Fostering a sick animal can sometimes feel like a hard task, and while it’s not always easy, it is doable. Without foster homes for sick animals, they sometimes may not make it due to the time and dedication it takes. Whether it’s just making sure the animal gets their daily medication or helping rehabilitate one that has maybe lost its leg, you’re going to make all the difference in their life.

As for animals with social issues such as anxiety from a past trauma, your job as a foster will be to reintroduce the dog or cat back into a safe environment and help them realize that they don’t have to be afraid. Most shelters host socialization classes for the dogs in foster care that need it, giving them a chance to open up around other people and dogs. This will help them have a much greater chance at being adopted. It’s really important that these animals get into foster homes because that’s the best way that they can get the one-on-one trust building that is essential to them opening up.

If you and your family do decide to foster, I can promise you won’t regret it. You will be the pathway of what the animals life could’ve been to what it will be after you’ve helped them at a time in need. Their stay with you will be temporary, but what you do for them will last their whole life, and there’s no better feeling than that. Many people are afraid they will be sad when they leave, and you will be, but remember that it’s better to be sad that they’ve made it to an amazing new life than to be sad they weren’t given the chance they deserved. On top of that, after they’ve been adopted, you have room for more animals! Fostering is so fun and rewarding that I hope everyone gets the chance to experience it.

If you want to get started, some shelters around the Sacramento area that have fostering programs are Front Street Animal Shelter, Bradshaw Animal Shelter, and Elk Grove Animal Shelter. Follow these steps if you want to begin!

  1. Go online and find a rescue or shelter that’s near you.
  2. Call them or go in and ask when they plan on having their next foster orientation and sign up.
  3. If after the orientation you still think this is something you’re capable of doing, let the shelter/rescue know that you’re ready to be on their available foster contact list. 
  4. Almost every shelter or rescue will provide you with the necessary supplies, but just in case make sure to check in to see if there’s anything else you will need. 
  5. Wait for the call to go pick them up!

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