Posts Tagged ‘animal rescue’
If you are not familiar with the world of animal rescue, then you may not be familiar with the concept of “fostering” or temporarily caring for an animal in order to save its life and provide rehabilitation, medical care and socialization skills for it so that it will be more adoptable and suitable for what will hopefully be his new role as someone else’s pet or animal companion. I personally have never fostered a pet - there is no doubt in my mind that I do not have the personality or skills that would enable me to be a good foster parent. I am certain that I would have flunked the class in providing care for an animal on a temporary basis until it finds its permanent or “forever” home. Instead, I have chosen to save, rescue, rehabilitate and then adopt my animal companions knowing that I do not have the skill, stamina or fortitude to know and love an animal and then give it away (relinquish it) to someone else. In my opinion, it is a very special person, indeed, who has the knowledge of animals as well as the ability, compassion and selflessness required to care for a pet in need, to provide it with love and training, a temporary family life, and then ultimately “give” it away to someone who will share the rest of his or her life with it.
Without those generous, kind-hearted and compassionate people willing to foster an animal, many rescue or animal welfare organizations would find it virtually impossible to save and adopt out as many animals as they do. Often, an animal is simply too young, fragile or ill to make it on its own and requires someone to administer special care, training, food or medications until it becomes strong and independent enough to be designated as adoptable for a family which hasn’t the special skills money or patience to care for a puppy or kitten or older dog with special needs. Medium to large, adolescent untrained dogs are also excellent candidates for foster care. The foster parent takes on the role and responsibility of nursing an animal into health and overall well being and easing the transition from shelter to home. Also a part of the work of a foster parent is socialization and temperament evaluation. Generally, the foster parent(s) work in conjunction with a rescue group or animal welfare organization, which pay for any extensive medical care, surgery or treatment, required for the animal. However, frequently foster families donate the cost of food, toys and accessories and other expenses.
Often, foster homes provide a wonderful transition for dogs or cats that have been neglected, abandoned or abused and ended up at animal shelters with very little hope for a future home. Foster parents provide a stable and loving environment and help socialize and obedience train the animals in their temporary custody. The learn about the animals physical and emotional needs and can provide potential adopters with profiles of the animal’s personality and characteristics as well as whether they get along well with children, other pets, etc. In addition, the foster family must understand that there is no defined time limit to the time the animal will spend with them. No one can guarantee that an animal will be adopted within a certain time frame, even though one can be cautiously optimistic. I have known people who have fostered animals for a few weeks, months and even years until the “perfect” adopter comes along.
A foster volunteer ideally has some general experience with dogs and should be familiar with basic dog care and training. The foster has an opportunity to correct the behaviors or bad habits, which may be responsible for the animal being surrendered to a shelter. The responsibilities of a foster parent may include basic training: including housetraining (VERY important!), walking on a leash, learning to sit, stay, come, go down and obeying your commands. Other responsibilities may involve administering medical care (dispensing medication and providing an appropriate diet) and taking the dog to the vet,. Providing him with interaction, playtime and exercise are very important components to the dogs’ emotional and physical development. Once the dog has been nursed back to health after he has been evaluated and trained and deemed adoptable, it is time to begin the search for the best possible home for the animal.
Fostering a dog or cat may seem like a difficult and challenging task. For many of us who love animals, it is a seemingly impossible mission. We simply become too attached to our new addition to let him go. However, the rewards of saving a life and finding it a loving home are indescribable. Everyone involved in the process truly benefits!
I am frequently asked this question by parents who want to make their children happy but are unaware of or apprehensive about many of the aspects of pet ownership. My response to their question is nearly always “ A pet can be a wonderful addition to the family” with the disclaimer that the parents will almost always end up supervising and assuming the ultimate responsibility for the care and well being of the pet. No matter how kind-hearted, precocious, compassionate and well-intentioned, children are, well, “ children” who can be easily distracted, unfocused, unreliable, irresponsible and preoccupied with the demands of daily life including school, extracurricular activities, socializing, homework, household chores, and so on. They may love animals and want to take care of them, but, in reality, the likelihood of a child between the age of five and ten assuming full care of a dog is simply unrealistic. However, the decision to adopt a dog and incorporate it into your family’s life can result in one of life’s most joyous, enriching, satisfying and rewarding experiences.
Before adopting a dog, numerous family discussions should be held regarding the various facets, dimensions and responsibilities associated with pet ownership. Research should be conducted about the pros and cons of dog ownership. Your and your kids may love animals, but because of academic, athletic activities and other obligations, you may simply not have the time for the interaction, socialization and obedience training a dog requires. Information and opinions should be freely shared. Families need to understand that their lives will be forever changed/transformed as a result of bringing a pet into their homes. Various dog breeds and their physical as well as personality characteristics should be thoroughly studied and investigated to determine if a dog is right for you and your family, and if it is, figure out which kind of dog is best suited and most compatible with your family’s lifestyle. Personalities of each family member should be taken into consideration to determine who will assume which responsibilities associated with the pet’s care, feeding and exercise needs.
Above all, it is important to carefully think about the decision to adopt a pet. Here are some questions to ask that will help you determine if it is right for you to adopt a dog.
1). Can you afford the costs associated with a pet? Vaccinations, spay/neuter, adoption fee, visits to the vet for check-ups, dog food, doggie meds, toys, accessories, leash, collar, doggie bowls, travel kennels, identification tag and microchippng.
2). Do you have physical space for a dog –a place where he can sleep, play and eat in comfort, safety and security?
3). Is it legal for you to have a pet in your apartment, home or community?
4). Do you have the time to interact, exercise and play with the dog?
5). Do you have time and are you willing to walk a dog at least several times a day?
6). What is the ideal age and sex of the animal you would consider adopting – those that are most suitable to your lifestyle?
7). Are you willing to feed the animal two or three times a day and provide it with fresh water several times daily?
8). Are you willing to socialize the dog and teach it basic obedience skills so that it will obey you and be a well-behaved, well-mannered member of your family?
9). Will you be able to bathe and groom your dog regularly?
10). Will you be able to accommodate the dog’s activity level and any destructive behaviors he may exhibit?
11). Will you be able to housetrain your pet?
12). Will you be able to discipline your pet without any physical or verbal abuse?
13). Will you always walk your pet on-leash and never off-leash unless he is in a safely fenced in area from which he cannot get out?
14). Will you be able to teach your children discipline, responsibility and compassion and respect for a pet you adopt?
15). Will you respect and appreciate and lovingly commit a lifetime of care for a dog that may become old, frail or ill and will eventually die?
16). Will you provide a “forever” home for your animal regardless of what may happen to you? In other words, will you make arrangements to provide care for the rest of your pet’s life with friends, neighbors, family members, etc?
If you ask yourself these questions and answer them thoughtfully and honestly, you will know whether you should adopt a dog. A dog is precious and sentient and to be valued, appreciated and respected. The responsibilities associated with dog ownership are varied and many; however, the joy, wisdom, love and companionship of a furry friend are indescribable and immeasurable. To give your children the gift of a dog is to give them one of life’s greatest treasures.
Every year millions of innocent animals are injured, tortured, neglected, abandoned and abused. These helpless and defenseless animals suffer unnecessarily at the hands of humans who have little regard or respect for themselves let alone any other living creature.
These “castoffs” or “strays” are left to struggle to survive under the most stressful and horrific circumstances – alone and at the mercy of the elements - without food or water - without the aid or intervention of humans – without love or compassion – and without any hope of companionship, friendship, help or support from people. They live in fear - lurking in the shadows – running and hiding – attempting to find food, shelter and safety in our cities, suburbs and countryside’s.
Many of these “strays” are picked up by Animal Control, and if they are very, very fortunate and deemed healthy mentally as well as physically, they may be “rescued” by an animal welfare organization or rescue group If they are determined to be unadoptable, or if there is limited time and space in a public shelter, they will most likely be euthanized. within a few days of their arrival.
So many of the animals that end up in shelters or are euthanized have been betrayed by human beings who have behaved irresponsibly, carelessly or through ignorance. They do not recognize animals as sentient beings whose lives can be meaningful and purposeful. They do not regard themselves as the pet’s caregiver or assume responsibility for the animal’s health or behavior. They do not vaccinate or spay or neuter their pets. They do not recognize the animal’s innate intelligence and desire to both serve and please humans. They do not make the effort to “obedience train” their pets to help ensure that they are well-behaved and socialized. They don’t provide them with necessary veterinary care. They fail to feed them healthily or regularly or provide them with clean water.
Dogs are highly sentient and can provide many remarkable tasks and services for people. They can be trained to be of service to people with disabilities; they can provide comfort and companionship for the lonely; they can sniff out potential hazards such as bombs, drugs and weapons; they can provide the police and the military with protection and service in many different capacities and they can assist us in our search and rescue efforts following man-made as well as natural disasters. Some of the finest search and rescue dogs as well as canine companions have been adopted from animal shelters where they were discarded and surrendered by their owners. With respect, affection and the appropriate training, these animals can perform seeming“miracles” and save lives.
If you are considering the possibility of adopting a rescue dog, it is important to learn as much as you can about the type of dog or breed you are thinking about bringing into your home. It is rarely advisable to adopt or purchase a pet on impulse. It is so easy to instantaneously “fall in love” with an adorable puppy on appearance alone without thinking about the long-term ramifications or consequences. Find out as much information as you can about the dog’s physical characteristics as well as his personality and behaviors. Remember, becoming a responsible pet guardian requires a lifetime commitment, and it is essential to know as much as you possibly can about a creature that will become a family member of yours for many years to come.
When preparing to adopt a “rescue” dog, consult with animal shelter workers and your veterinarian as well as an animal behaviorist. Try to discern as much information as you can about the animal by his behavior. Is he aggressive – does he snap, growl, bite, block your path, curl his lips, bark intimidatingly or excessively, lunge forward at other people or dogs, or exhibit any other behaviors that might indicate aggression? Generally, workers at an animal welfare or rescue organization who have spent some quality time with the animal will have a good idea as to his personality and any health or behavioral issues that are or may be potentially problematic. As a rule, animal welfare and rescue organizations will only adopt out an animal that is truly adoptable and will make a good ‘forever” pet.
A rescue dog may require more time, effort, socialization, patience and compassion than a dog that has never suffered abuse of any kind. However, the joy and gratification to be derived from saving the life of and adopting a dog that has been mistreated or discarded are boundless.
To hear real life rescue stories, visit my facebook page. I post a new one every Friday!