I have written myriad columns regarding shelters and rescues, talking about their vital contributions to animal welfare, and their extraordinary efforts and results.  In those columns, I rarely mention one of the most important parts of this community, the volunteer fosters. 

Fosters are individuals that give up time, space an even money to care for some of the most at risk animals in the system.  Animals that due to their special needs cannot be housed with the rest of the animals awaiting furever homes.  These needs might be behavioural or medical in nature, sometimes requiring the foster to be as much a nurse as a protector. 

Fosters range all over the map, from people with a small space that can care for only certain animals, through people with acreage that can take on any animal in need.  Regardless the size of their space, there is no doubting the size of their hearts. 

In most cases the foster takes on the animal for a few weeks while they recover and adapt.  Depending on the extent of their injuries, or the conditions they were rescued from, these few weeks can be enough to make them stable for their forever home.   

Some cases require longer fosters, allowing the animal to recover and settle in a stable environment, so they can build trust again and become healthy enough to take their roles in their new family, especially if that family includes other animals or children.  These fosters will be chosen as people who have both the knowledge and patience to nurse the animal back to health, both mentally and physically.  When a rescue or shelter finds these types of foster, they and the animals are so very fortunate. 

The most demanding of fosters are those that involve pregnant animals.  These fosters can be called upon to go through the birthing process, caring for the mom and littermates as they grow to adoptable age, and then in assisting to find them homes.   

Sometimes, all the rescue needs is a parking place for an animal while a home is found.  While shelters usually have a physical address with holding capacity, most rescues have minimal permanent capacity.  New animals accepted into rescue need a place, even if they are healthy and coming from a loving home.  Unfortunately, many animals need to be rehomed through the passing of the owner, or because of a change in the owners living arrangements.  Animals in rescue are not all strays, abandoned or feral animals.  So, sometimes just a placeholder is needed until a furever home is found. 

Now that I’ve told you all about what fosters do, are you interested?  Most fosters are provided with all the food and supplies needed, and access to any vet care that might be required.  Some do decide to spend some of their own funds to enrich the environment for the animal while in their care, but that is not essential.  Your time and caring is what is most needed.  If you have the time in your life and space in your heart (and home), please consider opening them up to a foster animal.  Once a rescue/shelter knows what you can offer, they can pair you up with an animal(s) in need.   

It is amazing what fosters do, and they never get recognized enough.   And even when there is a “foster fail”, that’s a good thing.  Where else in life does that happen?  

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