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Start year fostering a dog, cat

Entering 2020 as a foster parent for one of our area’s shelters or tax-exempt rescue organizations would be a remarkably rewarding endeavor, a serious altruistic deed-giving of your most valuable asset, time, and in return receiving the immeasurable gift of unconditional love from your fostered dog or cat.

Our state shelters and rescue groups are inundated with unwanted pets. Shelters indicate a kennel-based institution, while rescue groups are foster-based. Their dedicated workers and volunteers labor long hours with attempts to save the lives of as many as they are able.

According to the April 2018 report by New Mexico Pets Alive, 50% of New Mexico’s legions of abandoned, sometimes abused shelter intakes are “unaffordables,” unwanteds or misfits relinquished by their owners. It follows that these sheer numbers of shelter and rescue intakes defy low euthanasia rates. Fostering allows an opening for another to be adopted at the facility, and you are reducing the time that your fostered pet would be spending in a shelter.

But our high euthanasia rate begs that more individuals volunteer to open their hearts and their homes to foster our shelter/rescue organization pets. Rescue transport and fostering are the only tools presently available in our state to save the lives of our multitude of incarcerated pets, euthanized for room. Most of our counties and communities lack ordinances requiring the sterilization of pets without intact licenses, so they continue to breed, forcing our shelters to “euthanize for room.”

Are you aware that the 2018 Animal Legal Defense Fund, ranked – again – New Mexico in the bottom tier of five states based on their animal protection laws? This ALDR evaluation has not changed in years, and won’t – until our concerned citizens are disturbed enough about our calloused and inhumane treatment of pets and push their legislators to adopt stronger and more humane laws, along with the financial tools to enforce such, and mandatory spaying and neutering ordinances for pets without intact licenses. Until then we need fosters to save some more of our pets from “euthanasia for room,” to give them a safe place to stay until they can be adopted.

The responsibilities of a foster parent are fairly simple: Provide the pet with a loving home that is environmentally healthy and safe until they can be adopted. The shelter/rescue group will assume the financial responsibilities of veterinary care, food and shelter expenses. Taking your fostered pet to the weekly adoption clinics will provide an opportunity for it to be seen, evaluated and finally adopted. Hopefully that new home will be a forever home, a condition that is strengthened by serious vetting of the potential owner and followed-up by home visits by volunteer workers for both organizations. This is a beneficial and often a life-saving attempt to ensure the pet is not once again among the “unwanteds.”

There are countless numbers of shelters and rescues in this area, all in dire need of reliable, loving foster parents. Most rescues take in the average-run-of-the-mill dog or cat. But some rescues take specific breeds: Some have moms with litters needing support, some have pets requiring medical or behavioral attention. But by fostering, you will be instrumental in giving your pet a glorious gift – another chance at life, an opportunity few are allowed.

So if you might think that having this new boarder would be a rewarding experience for you or your family, please do not hesitate to call the group of your choice. Most are listed online. Regretfully, Christmas time is the worst time for shelters and rescues because that month and January hold the highest numbers for abandoned pets.

A special love could be right around the corner for you this 2020 with a new fostered pet. Giving of yourself is the greatest gift of all.

Kate J. Kuligowski is recipient of Dog Writers Association Of America Maxwell Medallions and Best Books USA 2018.



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