Volunteer from home by fostering for local animal shelters

By Alex Williams, Staff Reporter

Animal shelters are making tough choices about euthanizing highly adoptable dogs and cats due to the lack of volunteers and more family pets being surrendered because of financial issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Some animals shelters do not have the physical space for kennels and rely on volunteer foster families for all of their adoptable animals.

To combat the need to euthanize, these shelters are creating emergency foster lists and are begging people to foster cats or dogs. 

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“An important reason to foster during a pandemic such as the one we are currently in, COVID-19, is because not only will you be helping the animals in need, you could be saving an employees life by them not having to take care of the animals and have to leave quarantine,” former SIU student Audrey Vandlen said. 

There are many reasons why a shelter may look for foster families for their animals. A few of those reasons could be that the animal is too young to be adopted out, the animal is recovering from an illness or surgery or was displaying signs of stress in the shelter.

Some animals need time to heal after being left by their previous families or they may be a severe neglect or abuse case. In these cases, healing takes time and these animals need a safe space to destress and be loved before being put up for adoption. 

 “I foster dogs so another dog can be saved. When you take a dog out of the shelter, you give the chance for another one to come in,” Gretchen Grace, a community member who recently moved to South Carolina, said.

Before agreeing to foster, an animal shelter will often go over terms and conditions with the potential foster family. These could include what the foster family provides or whether the foster family is to help search for a home or not. 

Many shelters will provide veterinary care for the animals under their care, so most foster families only give their time and the price of dog food. 

Often, an animal shelter will allow the foster family to set boundaries on what types of animals they can take, such as whether they want a dog that is good with kids and other pets or a cat who needs to be an only pet. 

“There are so many dogs that need help, and I strongly believe that if you are an animal lover, you need to be helping in some way.” Grace said

Almost anyone can foster as long as they haven’t committed animal abuse or neglect, have housing that allows it, and are above the set fostering age of the shelter. These terms are set ahead of time by the animal shelters so the easiest thing to do is call and ask. 

Fostering is a way for a person to make a difference in a meaningful way while not making a permanent decision on adopting a pet and can be for as short or as long as a term as you would like it to be. 

A person could have a dog one night for a quick break from shelter life or an animal may need end of life care that lasts a year or two. 

“Whether you foster for a week or a year, you are making a difference in that dog’s life,” Grace said.

Staff Reporter Alex Williams can be reached at [email protected]

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