Inspiring Others to Foster Animals ~ Lauren's Story
Updated: Jul 1, 2020
By Lauren S., Communications Intern
Happy National Foster a Pet Month! As the month comes to an end, we wanted to share with you some of the benefits to fostering animals and the lasting impacts it can have in your life, in hopes to inspire your own foster journey. As someone who has fostered many animals in my lifetime, I’d like to share my personal fostering story along with it! It's a rewarding, wonderful experience that has given my family and I a chance to make a difference in many pets' lives.
My foster animal journey began at age 7. I remember how my hyper German Shepherd puppy, Kayla, was in desperate need of a playmate! She loved to play with the neighborhood dogs often, but my family knew our pup needed constant playtime to expel some of her energy. My mother started looking into new hobbies that we as a family could do that involved giving back to our community.
At an elementary school fair we attended in the winter of 2007, a German Shepherd dog rescue set up a booth to share information about fostering and adopting dogs. My mother was quick to fill out a foster application and about a week later, we had a new foster puppy in our home. 13 years have gone by since then, and my family has taken in over forty other dogs from several local rescues.
Although I have only fostered dogs, I know that there are currently many other species out there looking for foster homes. According to the ASPCA, over 6.5 million companion animals end up in shelters every year. Some of these animals are fortunate enough to be pulled by a rescue or end up in a facility that nurtures them until they are adopted out. However, over 1.5 million of these animals end up being euthanized if they do not get pulled from shelters.
Many shelters are full-capacity kill-shelters where animals only have a set amount of time to be spoken for before they are euthanized. When someone chooses to take in an animal to foster, they are ultimately saving that pet so that another animal has the same chance.
Taking a foster pet into your home means nurturing the animal and giving them a loving environment until they find their forever home. Depending on the pet, this could mean taking them to the vet for a health exam or to get fixed, attending adoption events for meet-and-greet opportunities, or even just giving them affection so that they are no longer afraid. Many rescues and shelters cover the bills of the vetting or reimburse you for food and supplies, which is great for people who are not quite ready to own a pet but want the experience of caring for an animal within their home.
Another benefit to fostering pets is that in a sense you get a trial run if you are looking into adopting a pet in the future. If you end up falling in love with the animal while fostering, nine times out of ten the rescue or shelter allows you to have first dibs over the pet. Some like to call this “foster-fail” because little did they know that their home would be this animal’s forever home.
Over the years, my family has “foster-failed” four dogs who were supposed to be our temporary housemates. Two of these dogs were older German Shepherds who had difficulty finding their forever homes for a while and fit in great with our original Shepherd. We also adopted a Havanese Shih-Tzu whose mother was saved from a puppy mill and brought to a rescue we foster through, where she gave birth to our Willie and his three sisters. The most recent addition to my family is our pure-bred German Shepherd, Luke, who came to us at 6 months old from a shelter.
Something that I find special about fostering and adopting animals is that you have the ability to adopt designer breeds or purebreds that you thought you could only get from a breeder or puppy mill. If you search hard enough, you can foster to adopt your dream pet and actually save their lives!
People always ask me how I can say goodbye to the foster animals that do end up finding their forever home with another family. What I say to that is although it can be sad at times, especially if you truly bonded with the pet, you were able to save another life. I have had the opportunity to care for sick animals and nourish them to full health and socialized skittish dogs to become outgoing. I have even raised a litter of puppies who would have been put down at a kill shelter had we not taken them in. The most rewarding part is knowing that these dogs that I rescued, when they get adopted, rescue their forever families.
Fostering is something that is always going to be needed. The more animals that are taken in to be fostered until adoption, the more animals that can be saved and hopefully get the same chance. I encourage everyone to give fostering a try as you may find that you are rewarded in so many ways from your efforts. If fostering is not a feasible option, then volunteering with local rescues and shelters is great opportunity for all to get involved. Any way you choose to help is one step closer to giving a pet their forever home.