As the holiday season approaches, it brings with it the excitement and chaos of parties, family reunions, shopping, and cooking. It also awakens in us the spirit to give and help others. By now, you’re probably thinking about what gifts you can buy a loved one, or how you can help your local charity or shelter. Donating money to an animal shelter or buying items on their wish list is always a good idea. But have you ever thought about giving the ultimate gift — caring for a pet so they can have a break from the shelter during the holidays?
When you care for an animal at the shelter—for a night, a weekend, or the longe—you’re helping them escape the hustle and bustle of a crowded shelter environment to have some one-on-one time with human companions.
Fosters help reduce capacity in emergency shelters
By bringing a foster animal home, you help both the pet and the shelter. Especially during the holidays, animal shelters are usually overwhelmed and require additional help and space. The shelter benefits when it has fewer dogs to walk and litter boxes to clean. Caring for a pet also reduces labor and supply costs for the shelter and creates space that can be filled by another animal in need.
Care homes offer comfort and a quiet spot for pets
As good as animal shelters are for animal welfare, they are still considered a stressful environment for those staying there. Most facilities are overcrowded and the sounds and smells of other animals are always present. Just like humans, animals sometimes need their own personal space to relax and unwind. A nursing home can offer just that.
As many animal lovers know, pets thrive on consistency. Many shelters lack this coherence because they are usually staffed by volunteers, which means the person who takes care of each animal may differ from meal to meal and from day to day.
A foster animal is still considered adopted and is still part of the shelter system. Caring allows animals to live in a less stressful environment, in a private home, much like their ultimate adopted home, where they see the same people every day and have a familiar schedule and the opportunity to develop a routine.
Care homes are great for collecting information
Another valuable aspect of temporarily keeping a pet is that, as a foster parent, you get to know the animal very well and can provide valuable insights into the animal’s personality.
Many animals don’t show their true temperament at the shelter, and the constant change of caregivers means that no one really knows how the animal is behaving. Foster parents learn everything about their pet, their likes and dislikes, and how they’re doing with other pets and children. All this information gathering can ultimately lead to a more successful match with potential users.
Caregivers can help adopt pets
Animals in the shelter are usually adopted by those who go to the shelter to adopt them. Animals in foster families, on the other hand, receive much wider contact with potential adopters through their foster parents.
Foster animals often go for walks and meet in the park. Maybe they can attend an event or photo shoot with Santa Claus. Many foster parents have photos and videos of their pets that they share at work or on their social media pages. This additional exposure widens the circle of people who might encounter the animal and increases the likelihood that an adoptive parent will agree with an adoptive parent. It also presents the shelter and care program and could increase the likelihood that friends and acquaintances will adopt, promote, or provide support.
Caring is a way to give back (and protect a pet)
When you care for a pet, you’re doing a good deed by providing a safe environment for the pet and helping the shelter. If you have kids, teach them too how important it is to care for animals and how important it is to give back by helping others.
Check with your local animal shelter about their care needs
Interested in caring for an animal? Contact shelters in your area to find out what guidelines apply to caring for a pet. Keep in mind that every shelter may be different. Some can groom dogs and cats. Some even like to care for exotic pets. Some provide the accessories needed to care for the pet, while others require you to buy them. Regardless of how you want to give back to a pet from the shelter, make a difference in their lives, especially over the Christmas season.