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The importance of being a foster pawrent

Fostering or providing temporary homes for animals is not just a temporary commitment; it is a profound act of compassion that transforms the life of both you and your furry friend in need. My name is Yariann, I have 2 adopted dogs, and I have been volunteering for almost 3 years with various animal welfare organizations such as The Humane Society of PR, Save a Sato & El Foster Club and I see daily the great work they do, but also the need for space to house more animals.


My intention in this blog is to tell you, based on my experience, the joys and challenges of providing temporary providing a temporary home.

Berta at her veterinary appointment for skin evaluation.

 


What is foster care and what does it consist of? It's simple, it means taking a rescued animal into your home for a short period of time, according to your availability. When you do this, you must be clear that you are committed to keeping their veterinary appointments and necessary care because although the shelter/sanctuary covers the medical cats you have to take them, at the end of the day it is up to you to take them to their follow-up appointments.




Unfortunately in Puerto Rico there is a situation of animal overpopulation. There is no official study that establishes the exact number of stray animals in Puerto Rico, but there is an unofficial study that estimates that the number of stray animals is close to 500,000.


Puerto Rico has a population of 1,598,159 inhabitants according to the 2020 Census and according to statistics from the Federación Canófila de PR the approximate total number of dog owners is 710,000. So if we divide the total number of dogs by the number of inhabitants we can say that approximately only 47% of the households in P.R. have a dog. We cannot assume that everyone will have a dog or cat in their home because it depends on many things, but, even if you do not have a pet there are things you can do to help the cause.


Some ways you can help without adopting are:

1. sharing content from rescuers, shelters and sanctuaries.

2. Donating either monetarily or with artifacts such as food, towels,

cleaning utensils, etc. depending on the need of the organization.

3. Volunteering.

4. Being a temporary home for an animal.


When I started volunteering I did it because at that time I could not have a pet in my house. So I thought..., "at least this way I share with animals, I help them and we both benefit. They for the time spent and I for the love they give us." During the pandemic, I adopted my first dog and within a year I adopted my second. At first, I started out as a volunteer, going to shelters and sanctuaries, helping them with their nets and taking the occasional puppy out for a walk to spend the day with mine to expose them to some socialization. In the process of training mine and learning about animal behavior, I decided to serve as a temporary foster because I wanted to help even more.


My first foster dog was Oliver, a puppy who was too good and too perfect. I took him for walks everywhere and one day while walking in the Mall of San Juan someone fell in love with him and ended up adopting him. Today, he is happy in his home with a little doggy brother. After Oliver, I fostered two puppy sisters: Aqua and Lavender; two naughty puppies that gave me a hard time, but made me very happy with their witticisms. They finally traveled to Florida along with their siblings to be adopted through a shelter there.


Offering temporary housing provides a safe and loving environment for animals rescued from shelters or in difficult circumstances. It is an opportunity for these animals to experience the comfort of a home and the warmth of human companionship. By opening your heart and home to a rescued dog, you become an essential part of the rehabilitation and adjustment process. Puerto Rico's shelters and sanctuaries are at capacity and rely on temporary homes to provide opportunities for more animals.


What is difficult and can you get attached to them? Yes! Many people told me that they were very sad to see the animals in a shelter or sanctuary and that they don't feel able to do it because they get attached and then they will suffer. And it is true, it is not easy to see so much need and one feels helpless, but I have always thought I would rather offer them a few moments of love and attention than not having them.


Providing temporary housing has many benefits:

You help make room at the shelter or sanctuary.

You allow another animal to enter the adoption program.

You help in the "decompress" stage of the animal as many get stressed in the shelter environment.

It allows you to explore whether you can have a companion animal in your home.

You can get to know the animal's personality and how it gets along with the other animals in your home before deciding to adopt it. We call this "Foster to adopt".

In addition, the bond you create with that animal and the satisfaction of performing an act of selfless love is incomparable.

But like everything else, fostering has its challenges. Many people don't know what it really entails to offer a temporary home, especially if you don't have pets. It is important to keep in mind that rescued animals need more patience and understanding as many are afraid or distrustful of people. We do not know what traumas they may have suffered before being rescued. For this reason, my recommendation, after seeing "Foster" and working with dogs directly at the shelter is: Be patient and seek help, if necessary, from an expert in canine psychology!


The age of the animal also has a lot to do since the puppy, adult and senior stages have very different needs. You should always check with the shelter or sanctuary about the behavior and needs of the animal.


THE FAREWELL...

Definitely one of the hardest parts for me is: the farewell. I get attached and involved mostly because I get to see their process. When I delivered my first foster I cried and thought I was not going to be able to deliver it. However, I thought of things this way: "Offering temporary home allows me to help a little animal in its process and if I don't surrender it to continue towards a permanent home, I won't be able to continue helping others." That's the beauty of it, that you are constantly helping animals in need.


If you have ever thought of offering temporary housing I recommend it. You help the shelters and sanctuaries and the community tremendously. There are many organizations that offer this type of program for both dogs and cats. Some of the ones I have been involved with are The Humane Society of PR, El Foster Club & Foster Club Rescue.



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