Caring for an animal is not always feasible for every household, but there is an option for people who want the experience but cannot necessarily commit: fostering. Foster homes are the unsung heroes of animal shelters and rescues. When animals are brought into a rescue, they are frequently put into foster homes as they await their adoption. Many of these animals have never been in a house or slept in a bed; a foster home can give them a chance to learn what it is like to live in a home.
Over quarantine, my family and I fostered four different dogs from a local rescue. One of the dogs, Winnie, a grey pit-bull with honey-gold eyes, did not come inside our house for three days; we were pretty sure she had never been in a house before. With lots of patience and heartache, we were able to find her a home with another dog. A couple of days ago, her new family sent us a video of her doing zoomies in their backyard.
I formed a special bond with another foster, a sweet brown and white pittie named Samson. He slept in my bed every night and wanted nothing more than to be the biggest lap dog. As hard as it was to give him up, we made sure he was going to the right family with a big yard and a window so he could watch the birds and squirrels run around outside. Some of our rescues were easier to care for than others, but finding each one a home was equally rewarding.
Local rescues are consistently bringing in animals from all over, and these animals need to be exposed to a home before being put up for adoption. If you would like to be a foster home for an animal, you can reach out to your local rescue through phone or email or fill out forms they may post on their website.
For example, if you are living in Goleta or Isla Vista, the Santa Barbara Humane Society is one of the easiest rescues to become a foster for. They have a section on their website dedicated to fosters where you can fill out a Google Form to become a potential foster home for any of their animals. They will contact you when they have an animal in need of a foster home and you can choose whether or not to take on that animal. It truly is that easy.
Some people are hesitant to foster because they fear they will get too attached and not be able to give up the animal when the time comes. But I can promise you, that fear is quickly overridden when you know you’ve helped an animal find their forever home. Remember, adopt, don’t shop!