October 14, 2023
Above is MZ Rock Star, Porcelina, who was part of our Ghost (the band) litter of puppies in Fall 2023.
Animal rescue is a fulfilling and noble cause, but it can often feel overwhelming and unattainable for many people. However, there is a way to make a direct impact on the lives of homeless animals by becoming a pet foster parent.
Not only does this provide a temporary home for animals in need, but it also comes with a multitude of rewards that can bring immense joy and fulfillment to both the foster parent and the animals they care for. In this blog post, we will explore the many benefits of being a pet foster parent and how it can make a difference in the lives of homeless animals.
Why Pet Foster Care is Important
A record number of homeless animals are in desperate need of temporary care and love all across the country.
The effects of the pandemic on both animals and people has been devastating- which has resulted in more animals in need and less humans and funding than ever with which to care for them. The last year has seen a significant drop in foster families, adopters and donors- and animals are paying the price.
You can read more about this soon as we elaborate on one of the biggest problems- an increase in people buying animals from breeders. But there is also more to it after that point that has left people unwilling or unable to care for their pets any longer.
That's where pet foster care comes in.
By opening your home to animals in need, you become a superhero and literally save the day. By providing an animal with a safe and nurturing environment, they learn how to love and trust again- so that when they move on to a permanent home, their heart is more open and willing and their second chance is possible.
Fostering is so critical because it helps alleviate overcrowding in shelters, allows animals to heal from illness or injury, and provides valuable socialization and training opportunities. Without dedicated foster parents, many of these animals would not have a chance at finding a loving home- and they would otherwise be euthanized.
Millions of animals are euthanized for time and space and the problem is getting worse as we speak. Now more than ever before, foster families are the critical key to ensuring animals do not die for unnecessary reasons. Most people are very unaware of this problem, but fostering is a simple way to help make a difference, one animal at a time.
The Benefits of Being a Pet Foster Parent
Being a pet foster parent comes with numerous benefits that can bring joy and fulfillment to your life. First, you have the opportunity to build strong relationships with animals in need. By providing them with love and care, you create a bond that is truly special.
This amazing benefit is also one of people’s biggest fears too- and the number one cited reason why people are not interested in fostering. While it is a legitimate concern, we will discuss further about how that aspect can be mitigated and managed so fostering becomes a more plausible concept and something to enjoy rather than fear.
As a pet foster parent, you are contributing to a larger cause and making a difference in your community. Communities that care about and prioritize animals are also more compassionate to the humans in their society as well. By sharing in the care of animals in need within your community, you will find friends and build bonds through your shared experience. For many people, fostering makes them feel like they belong somewhere- and they feel recognized, supported and cared about by those around them also supporting the mission.
Perhaps your community has a feral cat problem, or many stray dogs. Fostering could be a great way to help make your community cleaner, safer and more compassionate by stepping up to help the animals in need- recognizing the problem isn’t an animal one. Rather, “pet problems” are actually people's. And only people can be the solution.
This sense of purpose and impact you will see and feel by fostering even one animal once, can bring a deep sense of fulfillment and purpose. Many times we are so busy being busy, we don’t even know what it is we’re busy with- or they are things that are not beneficial or productive. This can lead to exhaustion and burnout and a general dissatisfaction with work, school and life.
But when you’re fostering an animal, there’s a need, a purpose, a goal and a reward, all of which can reinvigorate your life and remind you what is truly important. Fostering is one of the simplest ways to get started on a path that will bring you closer to feeling you really matter- which is extremely satisfying, and addicting (in the best way).
Furthermore, being a pet foster parent allows you to provide socialization and training for pets, helping them become well-adjusted and adoptable. Through your input and guidance, you will be ensuring the animals that go out into the world have a basic understanding of behavior that can be tolerated and what can’t. For example, a dog that knows how to sit has the keys to success for life.
You don’t need to be a trainer to foster animals, but you should remember that helping the animals behave better is an important part of your role. At Motley Zoo we often say that we’ve never seen an animal in rescue because they had too much structure. Rather, it’s always because they haven’t had enough. Helping the foster animal learn rules and boundaries is like teaching them to read- and this is what will open doors. You simply need to be consistent with your interaction and your foster animal will thrive.
Not only will your investment into a foster animal’s training and socialization help them find a home faster, but you will also learn critical skills that will advance and improve your life with current and future pets.
By learning how to work through illness, minor behavior issues, and more, you will become a more confident handler of your own pets- and less likely to become someone who surrenders a pet later. You will know how to handle the issues you see come up- and maybe even be able to help your friends and family with their pets, thereby saving more lives and creating a more harmonious existence for everyone. By becoming a pet foster parent, you are not only improving the lives of animals but also enriching your own life in meaningful ways.
Most importantly, by fostering you are saving a life. There are few things as rewarding as knowing the animal in front of you is there because you gave them a chance. Saving a life is a success and a goal accomplished that will help you take action to pursue other aspirations, goals, and dreams. By tangible holding “success” in your hands, you will be inspired to pursue this growth in other aspects of your life.
The Downside of Fostering
There really isn’t a downside to fostering in terms of the impact it makes on both the pets and people involved, but there is one caveat that always comes up: I will get too attached.
Of course, you will become attached to the animal you foster. Most people that foster love animals and that’s why they do it. It can be hard, but there are easy ways to think about fostering that will help you feel more comfortable with the idea of it being a temporary situation.
At Motley Zoo we suggest people consider fostering like pet sitting- only you just don’t know who will be coming to pick the animal up or when. But the reality is, they HAVE a home already and your goal is to help the animal until that day comes so they are ready.
The reason this works is that when you pet sit someone else’s dog for example, you don’t think you will keep the dog at the end of the stint. You may very well become attached to the dog, but it’s not your dog and you wouldn’t think about telling your friend otherwise.
Fostering is very similar. You are babysitting a living being. And just like if you babysat a child, you’d hopefully try to uphold rules, boundaries and guide that child during your time with them. You’d take on a guardianship role and when the parent came home, you’d let the child go back with their parent. You are not the animals’ home when you foster, you’re their guardian. You’re there to guide them until their permanent parent can come get them.
We encourage you to try fostering just once. You can’t say you can’t unless you’ve tried- and more often than not, people can foster than cannot. It’s certainly easier to make up all the reasons you can’t and to imagine that fostering is so much more complicated and challenging than it is. But the reality is thinking about it is much harder than actually doing it.
Fostering once will make you feel like a better person, and will change your outlook in other aspects of your life. Who doesn’t want to feel like a superhero, even just for a short time?
While it’s different for all animals and organizations, fostering is typically a 2-8 week engagement which depends widely on the variables at hand such as age, size, breed, species, color, season/ time of year, and more.
Your local animal shelter or rescue organization can give you more ideas about how long the average foster has an animal, but it’s important to remember you’re not doing it for a specific time. You’re doing it to support the animals’ needs. It may take less time than you think, or it may take more- but if an animal has stayed with you for 4 weeks, what is 6…and if 6, what’s 8? You become more comfortable with the animal and time passes easier once the animal has settled in, so time becomes pretty abstract comparatively.
We hope you will consider fostering an animal in need. Chances are it will change your life most- and for the better.