PETA Australia reports that every year, about 200,000 dogs and cats are euthanised in Australia’s animal shelters and pounds for lack of good homes.
One solution to this could be animal fostering. According to One Green Planet pet fostering “reduces overcrowding in shelters,” keeps animals free from cages and out of harm’s way.
Following our recent story investigating why so many pets are being abandoned during COVID, we’re now looking at the importance of foster care to reduce pet abandonment, animal cruelty, and animal death rates.
Throughout this piece, we interview multiple foster carers who describe the experience of providing a safe haven for injured, scared, or confused animals as being one of the most fulfilling experiences that a human and the animal can go through together.
A report by the ABC found that 20 years ago, one in three dogs lodging in shelters were euthanised and 62% of cats were subjected to the same fate.
In 2019, the same report stated that euthanasia in animal shelters dropped by about two-thirds since 2000.
The ABC attributed this shift as being caused by more people rescuing animals through fostering and adoption programs.
One organisation that is working to minimise the number of pets being abandoned or sentenced to death is Waggin Tails Animal Rescue (WTAR).
Launched in November 2018, WTAR started out with the objective of saving one dog from death row each month. In their first month of operation, they saved three.
Since 2018, they have expanded to rescuing cats, have adopted out over 500 cats and dogs in total, and consistently achieve saving more than one pet a month.
Beck Kastelein, President of WTAR, states that foster caring is detrimental to the work that they do, “It stops animals being put to sleep. So many animals are let down by humans. Our foster carers give them a second chance.”
“Without foster carers, we wouldn’t have been able to save one-tenth of the animals that we have.”
Pets in palliative care, from abused homes, abandoned litters, stray animals, pets during pregnancy, and even pets that are no longer wanted, are some of the most common examples of pets waiting to be re-homed.
“Not all dogs or cats cope in shelter environments as it causes them to feel stress. There are some animals who’ve spent their whole life on the street or chained up in a backyard. Foster care is essential for them to be rehabilitated and learn what it’s like to be loved and cared for.”
“There are also some animals who have medical problems and need regular attention which is not available in a shelter, like orphan puppies or kittens who require round-the-clock feeding.”
Fostering a pet can be a viable option for those who like to travel or for those who have never had a pet and want to see how much commitment is involved when owning a pet.
Inez Deckers began fostering dogs five years ago, “We wanted to get a dog, but we didn’t really know what kind of breed would suit us. We thought if we started fostering then we’d get to experience a lot of different breeds and see if there were any we preferred.”
Khadine Aharon became a foster carer after her 16-year-old cat passed away, “I was missing having a cat around, but I was also traveling around a bit for work. I didn’t really want the same responsibility of owning a cat permanently. I really liked the idea of fostering because I could do it for short periods of time.”
“There was one cat I was fostering named Puddin’. When he arrived, his mouth was torn away and he also had a broken ear. He was in a really, really sad way. He just transformed over the time he was with me.”
“Welcoming a cat into your life that has had a really hard time and giving them the space to heal, not just physically but emotionally, then to see them come out of their shell and transform, is just beautiful to watch. To me, it’s a privilege to be able to offer them a better life than what they had.”
Different animal shelters have different requirements when it comes to foster care. In some cases, individuals may have to fill out a foster application, undergo a police check, be interviewed, or have their yard checked by workers from the animal shelter.
This process aims to wean out the people who may want to harm the pets or who don’t have experience or any understanding of how to take care of animals.
But Khadine warns that people considering fostering pets should be considerate when it comes to finding the right fostering organisation, “Do your research. Some organisations are amazing, the animals are really well cared for and there’s support available for fosterers but there are others that are like animal hoarders, they don’t look after the animals’ health as a primary and they can end up guilt-tripping you into taking an animal that you’re not ready for.”
Inez Deckers encourages people who genuinely care about animals to consider pet fostering, “For some of these animals coming from shelters, being fostered literally means the difference between life and death.”
HERE ARE BAXTA’S TOP REASONS FOR FOSTERING A PET:
- It’s meaningful, rewarding, and life-changing for both the human and the pet
- Fostering gives people who are looking to adopt an animal the chance to see how much work is involved when caring for a pet full-time
- It’s free to foster – most animal shelters will provide free veterinary care, food, litter, toys, and bedding
- Fostering is short-term and it is flexible – this means that you can travel whenever you like and the shelter will organise a replacement carer for the pet during that time
- Some animals’ need regular medical care which cannot always be provided by shelters. Fostering means that there are fewer animals with these kinds of medical issues being euthanised
- Fostering reduces over-crowding, meaning that shelters will have more space to take on more animals in need of a place to stay
- Animal rescue centres will work to find the pet that suits you. If you work full time and only want a pet that does not need to be monitored all the time, the shelter will find the right pet that suits that lifestyle
- Fostering prepares pets for adoption by getting them used to living in a family home
It has been a pleasure to hear about all the wonderful work that our animal shelters and foster carers have been doing out there in the world. We hope you have found this article informative!
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