Since the age of twelve I have been involved in dog rescue and over the years I have cared for many dogs and cats who were facing a bleak future before being taken in by rescue organizations. During that time I have learned many misconceptions that people carry about fostering and in this blog post I am going to discuss some of the most common fallacies surrounding fostering animals as well as some myths about rescue dogs in general.
“I would keep every dog!”
It certainly can be very difficult to say goodbye to the foster animals when they leave for their new homes, at the time that I first began fostering I sobbed my heart out as each dog left with their adoptive parents. However it is an absolutely amazing feeling to receive updates from the new families and know that you played a part in making that match possible. Plus, almost all adopters are more than happy to meet up for visits with the foster parents so that you can see your beloved foster again. The more harsh reality of the situation is that, without foster homes, the animals that would have been rescued remain in dire situations. Organizations receive dozens of requests to take in new animals every day and are forced to refuse many of these requests due to lack of foster homes. I love the quote “I would rather cry watching them leave my care for a life of love and happiness in a loving home, then cry because no one stepped up to take them and they died alone, frightened and sad in a shelter”.
This past summer I took in two 7-week-old Border Collie mix puppies, Penelope and Petra; the involved rescue groups were all already over capacity and these girls were two of the many dogs that were being returned (from a spay and neuter clinic) to difficult lives as strays in a rural community due to lack of foster homes; already in rough shape, the puppies likely would have perished had they not been rescued. Petra and Penelope, were such beautiful, incredible puppies that they had people lining up to adopt them the moment they were ready for new homes and both are now living incredible, very loved lives.
“It’s too expensive, I can’t afford to foster”
Most rescue organizations cover all reasonable expenses related to your foster animal. The only expense I pay out of pocket for my foster dogs and cats is fuel to transport them; if you cannot afford extra fuel, some organizations will find volunteers to transport the animals if ever they need to go somewhere (vet appointments, etc). Now, this does not mean that you can go buy your foster a brand new dog bed and some kibble and expect reimbursement from the rescue; organizations tend to have a supply of donated items that they will provide for the foster animal and they will only reimburse the foster parent for pre-approved purchases.
“I’ll be stuck taking a dog that’s not a good fit for my home”
A reputable rescue organization would never push a person to take a foster animal that they do not want or that is not a good fit. I almost always pick my own foster dogs or cats from a list, or I will ask the foster coordinator what animal would best fit my home environment. Occasionally I am asked specifically by the foster coordinator to take certain dogs that would really flourish in my home and while I take most of these cases, I have refused in the past and the rescue is always very understanding of this.
“I work a full time job, I can’t be home enough for the dog”
Almost all foster parents work full time jobs and many juggle other volunteer roles on top of it all. The reality is that if the animal is not in a foster home they could be in a life threatening situation or waiting alone in a shelter kennel, therefore, leaving them home alone for 8 hours on week days is not something that needs to be a huge deciding factor on whether or not to foster dogs.
“All rescue animals are damaged”
This could not be further from the truth! Certainly some come with baggage, but any dog can develop behavioural difficulties, whatever their background. Regardless of the issues a dog may have, the difficulties do not define that individual; I have met some incredible dogs with severe behavioural challenges and am so thankful that those pups have graced my life. Some of my fosters have been the most outgoing, obedient dogs I have met, others have been severely let down by humans and need more help to come out of their shells. I do enjoy taking the more fearful dogs as it is an incredible experience to watch them discover life as it should be.
"They would’ve been just fine had they not been ‘rescued’”
Yes, some may come from situations that aren’t life threatening or they may be so well adjusted to their difficult lives that they are content in it, however many are not so lucky and for the ones that are, I can guarantee that at least most of them are much happier in loving homes! Many of my recent fosters have come from rural communities in Manitoba that routinely cull their dogs by giving a monetary reward to individuals for bringing in a tail of a dog that they have shot. These dogs have been some of the most affectionate, well behaved dogs I have ever met and they have all found incredible families that absolutely adore them.
“It is just an animal, there are bigger problems in this world”
Generally the people that say this do not volunteer their time or money to any cause, so even if animal rescue does ‘just’ help animals, then at least it is still helping! That being said, I see fostering rescued animals as something hugely beneficial to both the animals, the communities they are rescued from and to their adopters. Packs of stray, hungry and scared dogs can lead to issues in rural communities, so humanely removing the dogs and providing spay and neuter clinics to the area is extremely helpful. I am the proud mom to two of my own adopted dogs and both provide me with an incredible amount of joy, they comfort me when I am sad, make sure I get plenty of exercise and constantly make me laugh with their antics; they may have come to me as ‘rescue’ dogs, but they are the ones that did the rescuing when they arrived in my life. I began fostering again after a long hiatus (due to life getting in the way) when I could not shake the thought of what my dog Luna’s fate would have been had there not been a foster home to take her in (she was 4-weeks-old when her mom passed away, leaving her and her siblings with no one to look after them). Luna became such an integral part of my life and I felt such a strong need to pay forward the wonderful thing that someone had done for me by fostering her; I desperately wanted to help more families find their ‘Luna’ that may not stand a chance if they were not rescued.
Local Rescue Groups
Pawsitive Match is one of many incredible rescue groups in the area and if you are interested in fostering, volunteering or donating I encourage you to research what organization best suits you.
To learn more about Pawsitive Match Rescue Foundation, visit www.pawsitivematch.org
(...and just for fun, here are a few pictures of my past fosters)