A Smart Alternative to Pet Adoption
Everyone wants a pet, but not everyone is prepared to deal with the responsibility of taking care of one.
If you want to be a pet owner but are unsure of whether or not you’re capable of properly taking care of an animal, fostering might be a great option.
How Fostering Works
Many local shelters offer animal lovers the option to foster. Typically, fostering involves temporarily taking an animal (usually a cat or dog) into your home and taking care of it as you would with any beloved family addition, but with the knowledge that eventually the animal will become adopted and will have to leave.
This is extremely advantageous to the shelters: space gets freed up, animals get used to living in a domestic environment (bonus if there are children or other animals involved), and all the shelter has to do is dish out cash for food, supplies, and medical expenses.
Why Fostering Works for the Adoptive Parent
Fostering while being a potential pet owner is like test driving a car: you get to try out an animal for awhile to see how well it meshs with your life and the household.
If you’re a parent and it is your child who wants to claim all responsibility for an animal, fostering allows you to step back and observe exactly what kind of role the child is willing to play. Does he or she routinely feed the animal? Is the animal played with, loved, and taken care for walks or exercised?
Also, fostering does keep the possibility of adopting that animal open. If after awhile you decide that you cannot possibly imagine life without your new furry friend, just call up the shelter and ask for adoption rights. By now you’ve earned the trust of the shelter, and the adoption process should be much smoother.
The Downside of Fostering Pets
Of course, there’s always a downside to fostering. Most animal lovers find it extremely difficult to part with their foster pets, even if they are not in the right situation to take care of it long-term. This bond is a difficult one to shake, but it is important to keep in mind that the long-term welfare of the animal is the most important.
When you give up fostering to become an adoptive parent, you are responsible for all financial and health matters of the animal. It is absolutely necessary to remember that you are helping prepare the animal for a long-term home with a family or individual who can provide both the love and the support.
Then, of course, there are the cases where the animal is an absolute terror or perhaps a formerly neglected and abused case that may require special attention. This can be too much to handle for the inexperienced pet owner, and will likely discourage you from adopting or fostering again. When applying to be a foster parent, make it clear what you are capable of handling. A caring, responsible shelter would never handle over an animal that may cause problems.
All these things in mind, remember the most important aspect of fostering is that you are giving an animal the opportunity to experience life as a loved member of a family. In the long run, the benefits far outweigh the consequences.