I am a huge fan of adopting pets from shelters and rescue organizations. I have several rescue pets. I live right down the road from Hanover Mall and make frequent trips to Village Pet Supplies. I found out through my co-worker that there was a special needs kitty there who was being lovingly cared for by staff in the office.
Annie was living in a mechanic’s garage in Scranton. Her coat was badly matted, and she became stuck in a fence. Annie’s rescuer decided she needed to be off the streets, and she ended up in the arms of Village Pet owner Brenda Bartlett and Rescue Warriors Cat Rescue.
Annie is a special needs kitty who is continuing to undergo tests for a definite diagnosis. In the meantime she is stable and very loved. I visited Annie (nickname Anna Banana) twice, and what a sweetie pie she is. Lying on her side as I cooed to her, she turned her chin up to the ceiling and made bread in the air with her front paws.
Thankfully, Annie is the best hands, and we all hope for a complete recovery for this seven/eight month old baby, who will then be placed in her forever home. If you are in the area, please stop at Village Pet and buy a banana, all proceeds going toward Annie’s vet bills.
I also spoke with Michelle Demich, director of Rescue Warriors. You can meet many of the wonderful kittens and cats that are available for adoption at both Village Pet stores in Hanover Twp. and Luzerne. Cats are microchipped, neutered, and receive their inoculations prior to adoption. The cost for this is approximately $170, but the rescue charges less than half of that to adopters.
About foster care
Sometimes, I think an even greater gift is to offer to foster a dog or cat in need. Foster owners give animals a place to stay while they wait for a forever home, relieving crowding at the shelter or rescue and accustoming the pet to a home environment. Foster owners must sometimes see their charges through necessary veterinary care such as heartworm treatment or teaching them manners before they can be put up for adoption.
Fostering takes patience, love and a good eye for observation: One responsibility of a foster parent is to provide the adoption group with information that allows them to make the best match between the pet and potential owners. Fostering also requires the skills of a diplomat to ensure that your family’s own pets don’t feel left out. Fostering is a good way to “test-drive” an additional pet or a different type of pet.
Before you foster: 9 important questions
- How much care, socialization or training will this animal require? Bottle-feeding babies often means round-the-clock dedication. Older kittens or puppies, on the other hand, need lots of handling, training and socialization, and they may need to be taken to the veterinarian for spay/neuter surgery or teeth cleaning while they are with you. Adult animals may simply need a place to stay until they are adopted, but sometimes they have special needs as well. Be sure you know what you’re getting into before you bring a foster pet home.
- Is this animal house trained? If the answer is no, are you prepared to teach that skill and to ensure that your belongings aren’t damaged in the process? If you’re up for potty training, you may want to roll up valuable rugs and put them away while you’re fostering, and have necessary equipment such as a crate and baby gate for use during the housebreaking process.
- Are you prepared to treat a foster animal as a member of the family? Fostering isn’t just making sure the animal stays healthy and safe and eats well; you’re also responsible for teaching your foster pet how to be a good family member. For this reason, it’s important to make sure that everyone who lives in your house is on board with the foster plan and willing to help your temporary pet fit into the family unit.
- Will your own pets get along with a foster dog or cat? If your pet is possessive of your lap, how will she respond when a guest animal tries to sit there? Some breeds are more prone to quarreling than others, and the arrival of an additional animal, even just temporarily, can upset the balance of pet power in your household. Your normally well-behaved dog or cat may “act out” or forget its house training. You will need diligence and patience to maintain harmony.
- Can you afford to care for an additional animal? Ask up front what your out-of-pocket expenses will be. The rescue group should cover any veterinary expenses, but it may or may not pay for items such as food or cat litter. In addition, if you know that you will be traveling for work or vacation during the time you’ll be fostering, say so up front so the rescue group can decide whether it can afford the expense of a pet sitter or will help you find someone else to care for the animal while you’re gone. Open communication with the shelter/rescue organization is an integral part of fostering.
- Do you have time to take this animal to weekend adoption events? Some rescue groups post pets online and take applications for them, but others hold regular adoption events at local pet supply stores or other venues. You may need to take your foster pet to those events until she’s adopted, which means looking carefully at your weekend schedule.
- Are you prepared for a long-term commitment? A foster animal may need a place for only a few weeks, or his stay could stretch out for months. There’s no guarantee that a foster animal will be adopted within a certain time frame, but until he’s adopted, he needs a home. Be sure you can commit before you accept a foster pet.
- Is the organization run in a professional manner? You should expect phone calls to be answered or returned promptly and veterinary expenses to be covered by the organization. In addition, the adoption organization should be in contact frequently and should make every effort to find the animal(s) a permanent home.
- When the time comes, will you be able to give up your foster pet to an adoptive home? It’s all too easy to become attached to this little creature who is living in your house. People who end up adopting their foster pets are known affectionately as “foster failures.” Some rescue groups are OK with that, while others frown on it because it often means that you’re no longer available as a foster home for future animals. Even though you will obviously become attached to the pet that is in your charge, remember that when it is rehomed and happy in its forever home that you will be making space for another little one that needs you.
Fostering pets has its ups and downs, and you will likely cry when your foster pet walks out the door for the last time, but the rewards of seeing him blossom and watching a new family fall in love with him will have you signing up to do it all over again.
For information on Rescue Warriors, go to Rescue-Warriors.org or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resource: Dr. Marty Becker/Vetstreet.com
Judy Endo is the author of Paws-itive Pet Tales. A lifelong resident of the Wilkes-Barre area, she has been a professional dog trainer/competitor as well as a lifetime animal lover and strong supporter of animal rescue. Contact: email@example.com