Making sure that all homeless pets are safe and sound in loving homes is a lofty goal, but very doable with the cooperation and coordination of an entire community. One of the easiest and most beneficial ways that individuals of a community can get more involved is by opening up their homes to deserving animals in need of short-term TLC and becoming a foster parent.
At some point in time, nearly every animal shelter feels the pinch of not having enough space. It seems that no matter how large the facility, there is always one more mouth to feed. A volunteer foster program is an ideal low-cost way to greatly increase the number of lives saved while at the same time providing a wonderful opportunity for the community to become more active.
Not only does a foster program maximize the number of animals rescued, it allows an organization to save animals who would be difficult to care for in a shelter environment—orphaned or feral kittens, animals recovering from major surgery, or dogs needing one-on-one behavior rehabilitation. For animals who may need a break from the shelter environment, foster care provides a comfortable home setting that keeps them happy and healthy.
At Nevada Humane Society, we have been able to save many special needs animals through our Foster Program. Foster homes are especially critical during kitten season and, with Washoe County’s relative mild winters, kitten season starts in early spring and continues through the fall months. This means hundreds and hundreds of little kitties need temporary homes until ready to be adopted. These kittens fall into three categories – moms with kittens where mom does the caregiving and provides immunities from her milk, unweaned litters with no mom that require extra care until they are weaned at four weeks of age, and weaned litters, with no mom that just need to be fed and socialized.
The ideal situation is for kittens to stay in a foster home until they weigh two pounds (usually at eight to nine weeks old) and can then be spayed or neutered and made available for adoption. This type of program not only creates the opportunity for more animals to be adopted, but also gives the kittens a much better chance of survival.
Many of you want to volunteer directly with animals but lack the time or inclination to do so in a shelter. Others may want to adopt a pet, but cannot. Some may want to experience the joys of a companion animal in the home, but are not ready for the long-term commitment of adoption. A local animal foster program can be the perfect solution for you.
Renee Barnard works at Diamond’s Casino as Casino Shift Manager and has been actively fostering for Nevada Humane Society over the past two years. During this time, she has fostered a mom with pups, a special needs dog that needed to gain weight, and lots of kittens – both with and without moms, sick and healthy. “It’s very rewarding and lots of fun having them in my house,” said Barnard. “And it’s great to see them get back on their feet and ready for a good forever home.” But after the foster period is up, she quickly misses them and is ready for the next assignment.
If you are interested in fostering rescued pets, please call the SPCA of Northern Nevada at 775-324-7773 or Nevada Humane Society at 775-856-2000 ext. 321. Starter kits, training, medical care, and on-going consultation are readily available. Animal shelter foster programs directly involve you in Washoe County’s lifesaving mission and proves that it is truly a community effort.
Can’t foster? You can still help the animals by coming out for the Shakespeare Animal Fund’s Halloween Howl benefit event on Saturday, October 18 at Reno Livestock Center. Shakespeare Animal Fund was founded to help others who might face financial problems while trying to save their pet. For more information about the organization or their upcoming event, call 775-342-7040.