If you’ve been looking for a relatively simple way to help animals in need, have a little time on your hands and want to care for a dog or cat on a temporary basis, becoming a foster parent for your local shelter may be the perfect opportunity for you.
There are many situations in which shelter animals can greatly benefit from living with a foster family while waiting to be adopted, said Sheila Henson, Foster Coordinator at Butte Humane Society in Chico.
“We care for animals that are sick, have behavioral issues that need extra attention, or are too young to care for themselves,” she said. “If these animals do not have a foster home to go to their issues can worsen, which decreases their adoptability at a shelter. Foster parents save the lives of animals that need that little extra help.”
Some examples of animals in need of fostering are: puppies or kittens who are not old enough to be adopted, orphaned babies that require round-the-clock care, or babies and adults who are recovering from illness or surgery.
While most shelters try to make animals comfortable during their stay, shelter life can be stressful at times.
“With animals in such close quarters, illnesses can be spread quickly,” Henson said. “It is much easier for an animal to recover from illness or work out their behavior issues when they are in a home and getting lots of attention and love.”
Requirements to become a foster parent vary from shelter to shelter, but in most cases you will need to be able to provide transportation to and from the shelter, have a flexible schedule with the ability to separate foster pets from current pets in the household. If you rent your apartment or home, you will likely need written approval from your landlord.
So if you have a little extra time on your hands and some extra love in your heart, consider volunteering as a foster parent to an animal at your local shelter.
-Jen Burke, Butte Humane Society volunteer