Want to Give Back & Enrich Your Life?
Are you looking for a meaningful way to give back to your community and help animals in need? Fostering a dog or cat for a local shelter or rescue group could be the perfect opportunity for you! In the Fresno/Clovis area, shelters are completely overwhelmed with kitten and puppy season, in addition to the typical crowding that is the norm for shelters in the Central Valley. The need for fosters is critical, and you could make a huge difference in the life of an animal in need.
What It Takes to Be a Good Foster
Fostering an animal can be a deeply rewarding experience, but it’s important to be realistic about the challenges involved. Before you decide to foster, make sure you have the time, resources, and support system necessary to care for an animal. Some key traits of a great foster include:
- Patience: Animals in shelters may have experienced trauma, abuse, or neglect, and may need time to adjust to a new environment and routine.
- A good rule of thumb to keep in mind 3-3-3: Rescued and shelter animals take 3 days to process and adjust to their new surroundings, 3 weeks to learn your routine and begin to feel comfortable, and 3 months to truly feel at home in a new place
- Flexibility: Fostering can require trips to the vet, allowing potential adopters to meet the animal at your home or at an adoption site, or taking the animal to shelter or rescue group adoption events so your furry friend can find a forever home.
- Compassion: Fostering requires a willingness to care for an animal who may have special needs, medical issues, or behavioral challenges (like being shy, slow to warm up, guarding food, or being reactive). Shelters and rescues often offer a training course for new fosters to help you prepare for this element of fostering.
- Shelters & rescues are often adept at pairing foster animals and their fosters well, too. Let the staff know if you are brand new to fostering, and they can help pair you with animals they know fairly well, and can give you insight on.
- Communication: Foster caregivers must be able to communicate effectively with shelter staff, veterinarians, and potential adopters.
Benefits and Outcomes of Fostering
Fostering an animal can be an incredibly rewarding experience for both the animal and the human caregiver. For the animal, fostering provides a temporary home and a chance to receive individualized attention and care. This can increase the animal’s chances of being adopted, reduce their stress and anxiety, and even improve their overall health and well-being. By fostering, you are not only potentially saving the animal you are fostering from euthanasia due to shelter crowding, but also another pet that can now be cared for in the shelter, because there is space for them. So, fostering saves not just one, but two lives!
For the human caregiver, fostering can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment, and can even reduce stress and improve mental health. It’s a chance to make a meaningful difference in the life of an animal, and to be part of a community of animal lovers who share a common goal.
Preparing Your Home for Fostering
Before you bring a foster animal into your home, it’s important to prepare your space and gather the necessary supplies. Some key items to have on hand include:
- Food and water bowls
- A comfortable bed
- Safe and appropriate toys
- Collars and leashes (if fostering a dog)
- Litter box and litter (if fostering a cat)
- Blankets and towels
Who Might Be an Ideal Foster?
Anyone with a love of animals and a willingness to provide a safe and loving home for a pet in need could be an ideal foster caregiver. However, some specific groups of people who may be particularly well-suited to fostering include:
- Empty nesters or retirees who have time and space to devote to an animal
- Families with older children who can help care for the animal, and know how to gently handle and not startle an animal
- People who work from home and can provide the animal with attention and supervision during the day
- People with experience caring for animals with medical or behavioral needs, or those open to learning how
How You Can Help Even if You Can’t Foster
Not everyone will be able to foster an animal, but there are still many ways to support local shelters and rescue groups. Donating funds or supplies like pet food, towels, pet toys, blankets, pet beds, collars, leashes, and treats can make a BIG difference. You can also volunteer your time to help with events, social media, taking pictures of the pets in need of homes, or other tasks.
Local Shelters & Rescue Groups to Volunteer With
If you’re interested in fostering, volunteering, or donating to a local shelter or rescue group, here are a few wonderful organizations in the Fresno/Clovis area to consider:
- Animal Compassion Team
- Paw Squad 559
- Fresno Humane Animal Services
- Animal Rescue of Fresno (ARF)
- Valley Animal Center
- Fresno Bully Rescue
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