October is Adopt a Shelter Pet Month. But if you want to help shelter animals without going the adoption route, there's a great alternative that can have a positive impact on the lives of homeless animals.
Foster pet parenting is a way to get rescue pets out of crowded shelters where they may be euthanized, and into the safety and comfort of a home environment. That environment is where the foster pet has a chance for adoption and a forever home.
Tammy Barba is an experienced foster pet parent, a job she describes as coming with many joys and responsibilities, including learning all aspects of an animal's personality to help that critter be more adoptable.
"We get them socialized and see what their cues are," Barba said. "We determine if they're a digger, a barker or a lap snuggler or maybe good on a leash. And we do a bit of training, then we're able to tell a prospective adoptive parent how they interact with others and how they do on a day-to-day basis."
"Foster pet parents are our life blood," said Valerie Wellen, rescue services coordinator with Wish Bone Canine Rescue in Bloomington. "There's many benefits to foster families taking in our dogs. First thing is, it increases our capacity and allows us to save more dogs. Otherwise, we would be restricted by the number of kennels that we have in our facility."
The Illinois Department of Agriculture requires Wish Bone to have a foster license for every family who fosters. Very often, rescue facilities will help pay for an animal to be fostered.
"Wish Bone gives you a kennel, they give you the food, all the vets, everything is taken care of," Barba explained. "Essentially you're volunteering your time and your home."
If a foster family already has pets, Barba says that can be a plus when bringing in a foster animal.
"We have three large dogs. We do more of the puppy training, and the large dogs actually do the teaching. So when they come to sit and eat, the puppies follow. And they learn that this is the door that you go out to go potty, this is where you come to eat, this is what you have to do to get your treat. So if you think that if you already have pets and you can't do more, actually I would say that it's easier with pets."
Wish Bone Canine Rescue is always looking for more interested volunteers who want to help animals in need. Foster pet parents are encouraged to apply.
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