If you have ever adopted or fostered an animal that came from a shelter or rescue, you may or may not know how many people it took to get that one little furry creature out of there and into a loving home.
First there is the person or animal control officer that captures the animal and takes it to Animal Control. Sometimes this is a daunting task because the person must to catch the stray animal, pick it up and get it to the shelter. Keep in mind the officer must consider the safety of the animal and of the people in the area.
Next, there is the shelter volunteer. The volunteer does many things but the most important job is getting to know the animal’s personality and habits.
The volunteer becomes a bit of a behaviorist and looks signals and signs. How does the animal react to people? Does it sit for treats? Does the animal take treats without biting the hand holding it?
Taking dogs for a walk determines many behaviors. Has the dog has been trained on a leash? Does it potty as soon as it's outside?
Having two volunteers at a time walk dogs is a great way to find out how they relate to other dogs and cats.
Sometimes it’s good to have other volunteers test the same animal because some dogs and cats favor people of different sexes.
The volunteer can report animal’s personality and behavior to rescue organizers and potential adopters. The volunteer can also promote the adorable pet.
Most rescue organizations in my area do not have brick and mortar buildings. The organizations rely on people to foster animals in homes until they are adopted. Some organizations will go to animal control and pick out the animal or they will contact volunteers to sign for and transport the animal.
After papers are signed, the organization has responsibility for the animal. Any good, reputable rescue organization will take the animal straight from animal control to the vet or soon after if animal control does not perform health checks.
If the animal is healthy some vet offices will spay or neuter that day. Other times the animal may have kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection that must be treated before vaccinations and altering can be done.
In the case of puppies and kittens, it is very important to keep them isolated from other animals for a week to 10 days. Sometimes the really young ones go to experienced foster homes that will bottle feed the babies every few hours.
The organizatoin assumes all of the financial responsibility for the animal and, contrary to popular belief, makes little to no money from the adoption of most animals.
After animals are vetted and healthy, they are ready to meet the public via adoption events, pet finder and social media. The foster owner and the rescue organization makes sure that the adopted animals go to safe and loving homes.
Foster owners are one of the unsung heroes of rescue. They are willing to take a strange animal into their home and make it a part of their family for an undetermined amount of time.
Sometimes the animal is adopted right away and sometimes it is with the foster owner for years. Foster owners make sure the animal is housebroken or litter trained, knows basic rules and commands and are upstanding pets.
The foster owners socialize the animals by letting them play with resident pets and children. The action helps prepare pets for their new forever home.
Foster owners take the animals to adoption events and talk about them to potential adopters as well as post them on social media sites.
The foster owners are also responsible for taking the animals to the vet (which the rescue pays for the visit) and making them a temporary part of the family.
The best and worst part of being a foster is finding the perfect person or family for the pet and having to say goodbye. You are happy they have found a loving home, but you have spent a lot of time with this animal and will miss the pitter patter of their little feet.
Then the foster realizes that they did a great job and that there are so many others that need their help.
The forever home. If you are considering adopting please research the rescue or shelter that you are adopting from.
Ask for vet records and if an animal looks sick or seems aggressive…not matter how cute, move on. You will sign a contract with the shelter or rescue.
Make sure that you read the contract and ask any questions before signing. Know that if the animal doesn’t work out that you are required to take it back to the shelter or rescue, not sell it on craigslist.
There is nothing more rewarding than matching a great pet with a great person. When the match happens it’s magical and everything goes into place from the moment the animal was picked up, till they are driving off with a loving new family.
I have done all of the above and each phase is as rewarding as the other.
I can’t stress enough how many highly adoptable animals are just wasting away at local animal shelters and rescue organizations while people are still buying designer pets and purebred animals that have gained popularity due to movies or advertising.
Please spay and neuter your animals. Think about volunteering at your local shelter or becoming a foster parent for a homeless animal.