I wanted to talk a little bit about fostering pets. Most of the fostering I do is for homeless animals; my home is a way-station for homeless cats while they are given the care they need before they can be adopted. Most of the cats that come to stay with me are here for at least two weeks while they grow enough to be spayed or neutered, have their illnesses treated (I had poor little Salvador for three weeks because of his URI), and have intense socialization work (such as what Calvin, Ansel, and Owl needed).
There is another kind of fostering, however: Taking care of someone's pets while they are unable to do so for a little while. There is an organization called Guardian Angels for Soldier's Pet; they help find foster homes while soldiers are deployed so that our brave men and women do not have to go through the heartbreak of giving up their pets forever. Foster homes may care for the pet in an emergency situation that lasts 3 to 6 months, or for a full deployment that may last for two years.
My cousin Kurt just left for Iraq yesterday, and he really loves animals. He's a big, strong man (I feel so old calling him that!) with a real sensitive spot for dogs and cats. Fortunately, he is married, so his family dog is cared for by his wife, but I would like to think that if his situation were different, a kind soul out there would ease his heart by caring for any nonhuman companions he had.
Another situation of temporary fostering that I find is equally important is finding a safe temporary home for pets when a person is leaving an abuser. I have known many women who stayed in abusive relationships because they didn't want their pets to go to a shelter, or to be left behind with the abuser.
I am currently working to get two cats in such a situation transported to me; a friend was in an abusive relationship with someone, and needed to get out very quickly. I've agreed to foster her cats for as long as she needs to get back on her feet, but the crimp in our plans is getting them from Wisconsin to NY. As soon as the money is raised, they will be put on a plane to Albany, where I will pick them up at the airport. If anyone is interested in helping with this situation, drop me an email and I will send you the paypal link.
I am wondering if there is an organization out there to help abused people find a temporary home for their pets so that they are better emotionally prepared to get out of their abusive situation. If anyone knows of such an organization, please leave me a comment.
And, while I am at it, I want to say that yes, fostering can be hard. It can be hard to give them up. However, it's very rewarding, and there's nothing to bring tears to your eyes like a letter saying, "Thank you for our lovely family member, we love him so much!" I'll dedicate a future entry to some of the emotional aspects of being a pet fosterer.