Why Fostering Dogs is Important!

Posted by on June 4, 2013 in Blog

Why Fostering Dogs is Important!

I’ve wanted to share a personal perspective from someone who previously had eyes only on the “outside” of the local dog community, and now has gotten a strong look at the “inside” with the launch of our business.

There are several components that are needed to help the dog population in the United States see lowered euthanasia rates, the one I’d like to focus on today is the expansion of dogs in rescues and shelters being “fostered” out to better prepare them for “adoption.”

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To be honest, I’m really just like the average reader (assuming you are a dog lover). I have no living memory of being without a dog in my life, and throughout the course of my childhood and most of my adult life, they came from a variety of sources.  None however, were rescued from a shelter that I am aware of, but it isn’t because of lack of “caring.” It was because of lack of knowledge, likely by those getting dogs for me in childhood, and then by me personally as an adult. The knowledge of what puppy mills meant to the dog population, how important spay and neutering is, and the sheer numbers of dogs that have a daily death sentence was not in our consciousness.  Ignorance in this case, was truly bliss, because now I feel the pain, and we as a family along with our business have a vested interest to be part of the solution, not the problem.

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You have to understand that until your consciousness shifts, until you are deeply “affected” by a dog being euthanized it’s hard to really understand or have a desire to dig deep enough to learn what all led to the problems we see today.

There are a lot of opinions on why kill rates are so high across the country.  Backyard breeders and puppy mills funneling dogs en masse to people seeking a good deal on an “AKC registered pure breed” is one.  Listen, good people search Craigslist and the local paper to find a dog for themselves or their family at an affordable rate and I’m not ever going to blame the people. We have to go much deeper to get to the root of the issue in my opinion.

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Some people feel it’s the shelters that are too quick to hit the “kill” button on a dog that nipped over the weekend without a chance to see behavioral work done.

Other’s are convinced it’s just lack of knowledge on the public’s part to support something that unites nearly everyone across this country, our love of dogs and care for their well being.

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To be honest it’s a combination of all of the above and much more, but again, today I want to make a plea to the community, and that plea is to consider fostering a dog if you have the chance.  Like our civic duty to vote, I am going to make a bold claim that I think we should feel a calling, or a responsibility to foster IF YOU HAVE THE CHANCE TO DO SO.

The relationship you will find at your local shelter and rescues is a deeply personal one.  Through our “Community Pack Walks” where we try to help advocate adoptions and fostering by getting dogs in the natural environment once a month where we believe it’s easier to pitch the vision, we’ve got the chance to personally meet dozens of deep hearts tied to several of Northwest Arkansas 45 shelters and rescues. Many of you are already aware of your closest shelter and rescue, perhaps you’ve donated time to walk dogs and help them get exercise, or even donated money!

The Fayetteville Animal Shelter’s Chris Heinen is the Foster Care Coordinator and doing a great job of educating, advocating, and helping to formulate a plan to increase foster homes in that facility  Some shelters, or rescues are not as well staffed however, or have as many volunteers or  as well funded as our local shelter, and need even more assistance to help spread the word.

Now, maybe your still wondering, how does fostering a dog help lower euthanasia rates? When a dog finds a foster home, it is in a warm and loving environment with a family much like the one it’ll eventually find as it’s forever home.  Perhaps this dog came in due to neglect, abuse, or abandonment.  What it can do to the dog’s personality in terms of transformation and preparing it for adoption can’t be overstated.

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By fostering, you actually show the future adopter that it’s found harmony in a home environment.  If you have one other dog or a cat (some rules apply in terms of bringing in a foster with other animals) you can help show its ability to be around children and other animals.  These are incredible SELLING POINTS for the rescues and shelters to use when adopting the dog out!

And perhaps MOST IMPORTANTLY you are freeing up spaces at what is likely an over crowded shelter or rescue! This means that the death row aspect due to overcrowding is minimized and a critical spoke on the wheel that is the end goal of all dog lovers, LOWER EUTHANASIA RATES.

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The reason this is affecting me more today, is that we’ve been days away from working with a dog for behavioral issues and seen it put down before we had a chance to meet.  We’ve seen the teary eyes of people that have to drive the dogs to the vet.  This is a painful part of the Director’s of our local shelters, it’s the not talked about aspect of a job that has many areas that are not warm and fuzzy.

We now have a view monthly into most of the local shelters kill %, and because of the nature of our work it has shifted beyond a number on a dry erase board and into a vision for how to create solutions to many of the problems listed above that lead to the unfortunate end result.  (Puppy mills, backyard breeders, lack of spay and neutering, information not into public consciousness enough to impact their choices on where/how to get new dogs, etc.)

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I don’t know of anyone in this pet community that isn’t driven by the right reasons, it’s just an uphill battle in some cases, but battles that can be won over time.

If you have a home environment and a warm heart for dogs I’d invite you, perhaps challenge you to give fostering a dog a chance.  It’s a short term commitment that can lead to the best long term gift you could ever give a dog, and at the same time help to continue our fight to lower euthanasia rates not just in Northwest Arkansas, but the United States.

Make you sure “Like” the local shelters and rescues in your area to see the dogs up for adoption or foster, and stop by one day to visit with them about their foster program! Throughout this blog you have seen pictures of several that could use your help!

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I think most of us have been called to jury duty once or twice in our life and it always feels good to serve that civic duty when it’s over, doesn’t it?     If you are a dog lover I promise the feeling you get from fostering a dog, and then seeing it find it’s forever home is a feeling that you will never forget!

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