By Joanna D. Samson, Vice President, FOTAS
Spring has come to Aiken early this year. The days are getting longer, the azaleas are out, and everywhere you look, the landscape is awash in vibrant shades of green and splashes of color. It’s the season of rebirth, and most folks embrace the change of season after the cold, wet days of winter.
So why are we at FOTAS and the County Animal Shelter holding our collective breath when the rest of the community is in such a good mood?
Because we know that in short order the Shelter will be inundated with abandoned dogs and cats, homeless puppies and kittens, and an increasing number of strays, and we do not have enough foster families to help us handle this inevitable seasonal rise in intake.
We need foster homes—people who have the time and facilities to take care of dogs and/or puppies on a short-term or long-term basis until we can find them homes locally, or failing that, with a transfer partner in other parts of the country.
It doesn’t take much to be a foster. All you need is a secure, comfortable place for your shelter guest to sleep and play, the time to care for them, and dog-friendly pets (if you already have a pet). FOTAS and the Shelter will provide everything else if need be: food, crates, medicine, and assistance.
And you can choose to foster for only a few days or up to a few weeks. You would not be obligated to foster every time we ask. We are grateful for whatever time you can give us.
Most of our foster families take care of dogs that are scheduled for transfer to sister rescue agencies within the week. Placing them with a foster family allows these animals to decompress from the stress of the shelter environment before the journey to their new homes. Your Shelter guest, who is healthy and inoculated, does not have to sleep in your house if there is a secure, protected place outside of your home, like in a barn or a garage.
And here’s the thing: these animals are already spoken for, so there is no pressure on you to keep them. Indeed, it is just the opposite. We need you to let them go. It’s the same as, say, taking care of a friend’s pet for a couple of days.
We also need fosters who are willing to care for either mama dogs and their puppies, mama cats and their kittens or just puppies and kittens that have been abandoned to the Shelter. These little guys need to get out of the Shelter until their immune systems and inoculations are complete. Equally important, just like human babies, these helpless puppies need love and attention–lots of it. Typically, these commitments can be, depending on the age of the puppies, anyplace from 3 to 8 weeks.
Finally, we need fosters who are willing to take on the occasional special needs dog for 30 days or longer depending on the circumstances.
If you’ve ever thought about fostering, now is the time. Please call the FOTAS Hotline at 803-514-4313, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Their lives are in our hands.
The photo above is of Girl Conger Wolcott, whose family has fostered hundreds of puppies over the years, cuddling with one of her puppy fosters.