Fosters are critical to the success of RAS and the wellbeing of the animals it serves. The unfortunate reality is that RAS simply does not have enough space to house every animal that comes through its doors. Each animal that goes into foster opens kennel space for another animal in need. Fostering also helps the shelter’s most vulnerable animals. While some dogs and cats hold up well in the stressful shelter environment, others, especially those who have been at the shelter for extended periods, breakdown. Sadly, some animals deteriorate so badly that they become unadoptable and must be euthanized. A foster home can literally mean the difference between life and death for a dog or cat starting to break down at RAS.
You do not need to be a volunteer to foster an RAS cat or dog. All you need is the ability to offer a stable environment to an animal as it waits for its forever home. Sometimes a foster will be with you for a week or two; sometimes the placement process takes a few months. While fostering might seem daunting at first, it’s important to understand that you are never in it alone. Foster coordinators work to find the dog or cat that best matches your home. Experienced foster caregivers help mentor those new to fostering. Ongoing support is offered. Along with food and veterinary care, helpful items like crates and toys are supplied. Foster dogs can participate in shelter play-groups and attend a weekly training class held at RAS. Shelter volunteers bring foster animals to adoption events when the foster caregivers are unable to do so. There are also a number of local businesses, including doggie day care services, which provide discounts to foster animals.
Perhaps the most often-asked question about fostering is, “How do you say goodbye to your foster when it’s time?” While some fosters realize that their home is the right match for the animal they are fostering, most discover that the greatest joy comes when their charge finds its forever family. When your foster animal leaves to go to its forever home its always a bittersweet event. But knowing that successful fostering saves the lives of multiple animals and helps complete families makes saying goodbye much more“sweet” than “bitter”.