Reason #8: When you foster one animal in need you are really saving two. Sort of. Let me explain. Animal shelters and local pounds are always filled to capacity. This overpopulation of abused, neglected, and unwanted pets means that shelters have only two options: Find new homes for these pets or kill them. (I say “kill” here and not “euthanize” because I do not agree that the killing of an animal who is not acutely suffering is—as the etymology of the word euthanasia suggests—a “good” death.) The majority of pounds and shelters are underfunded, understaffed, and doing the best they can to be kind under often horrific circumstances. Chicago Animal Care and Control, for example, killed 12,544 of the 36,777 animals arriving there in 2008. (See Companion Animals and Chicago Communities: A Strategic Assessment for the City of Chicago, 2010 for a very detailed and sobering report on the problem. http://las.depaul.edu/chaddick/docs/Docs/Companion_Animal_Final_Report_030310.pdf ). Of the lucky dogs and cats who make it out alive, the majority are “pulled” by a private rescue group or another shelter, many of whom rely primarily on foster homes.
So, why does fostering one animal save two? Well, when you volunteer to foster a dog or cat through an animal rescue organization you obviously save the life of the critter who will be staying with your family. But you also open up a precious cage or kennel space at the pound where another unwanted animal can stay alive a little bit longer. Though my experiences with various front-line urban shelters have been mixed, I have never met an animal control officer who wanted to have to kill a dog or cat. It has to be among the hardest jobs in the world, and most ACOs are thrilled when a rescue contacts them—sometimes at the very last moment—to say they have found a foster home for a “death row” dog or cat. I have seen shelter workers cry tears of joy and relief when I arrived to pick up a favorite death row dog. I can only imagine the joy and relief the animals must feel.
Pictured here: Before and after pics of Scarlett, a "death row" pit bull from Gary, Indiana who lived with us for four happy months before succumbing to immune mediated hemolytic anemia. Thanks to CBBR, she left this world having known love, care, and comfort. Indeed, Miss Scarlett never went hungry again.