Must-Know Facts About Fos­ter­ing

GA Voice - - PETS - El­iz­a­beth Haz­zard,

Some dogs are forced to bear the hor­rid con­di­tions of ma­li­cious puppy mills, some are forced to suf­fer on the cold streets with empty stom­achs, and oth­ers must en­dure liv­ing in a home where they are abused sim­ply be­cause their own­ers see it fit. All of these mistreated and mal­nour­ished an­i­mals are in need of a safe haven, a lov­ing home where they can fo­cus on thriv­ing rather than sur­viv­ing. The At­lanta Hu­mane So­ci­ety is a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion whose core mis­sion is to pro­vide these ne­glected an­i­mals with those lov­ing homes through its com­mit­ment to ser­vice. The AHS has been At­lanta’s pri­mary an­i­mal char­ity for more than 140 years, and serves about 30,000 an­i­mals each year, plac­ing ap­prox­i­mately 9,000 dogs and cats into for­ever homes — and they are able to ac­com­plish such large res­cue mis­sions through the help and sup­port of vol­un­teers. One vol­un­teer-driven process known as fos­ter­ing al­lows the shel­ter to in­take more an­i­mals with­out over­crowd­ing, care for an­i­mals that are too young or too sickly/ in­jured to adopt yet, and pre­pare these an­i­mals for per­ma­nent place­ment into a home where they’ll be loved and cared for un­con­di­tion­ally. Kelly Teasely, AHS’s fos­ter co­or­di­na­tor, took the time to tell Ge­or­gia Voice read­ers about the process of fos­ter­ing and its sig­nif­i­cance to the Hu­mane So­ci­ety’s mis­sion. In or­der to pre­vent shel­ter over­crowd­ing, it’s es­sen­tial for the shel­ter to be able to max­i­mize space by only in-hous­ing the an­i­mals who are al­ready ready for adoption. “If we had to keep ev­ery an­i­mal in shel­ter that was sick or hav­ing be­hav­ior is­sues or was just too young for adoption, we wouldn’t be able to help as many an­i­mals, as they would be tak­ing up space that an adopt­able an­i­mal could be in,” she says. “And de­pend­ing on what’s go­ing on, it could be weeks to months for them to be­come adopt­able.” An­i­mals that are still nurs­ing, un­der eight weeks of age, and/or are sick/in­jured are not yet adopt­able, but with fos­ter­ing, they’re put into a home where fos­ter par­ents can give them the care that they need to re­cover. And upon re­cov­ery comes adoption into a per­ma­nent, lov­ing home. While this process can be new and a bit scary for the fos­ter par­ents, the AHS will be there ev­ery step of the way to sup­port the fos­ter par­ents. Kelly de­scribes the main thing that a po­ten­tial fos­ter par­ent must have in or­der to par­tic­i­pate in the pro­gram. “You just need to have the space and time for an an­i­mal. Some re­quire more time and space than oth­ers. You just need to be able to open your home to them and have them be with you un­til they are ready for adoption.” The av­er­age fos­ter­ing pe­riod is only two weeks, but this can vary de­pend­ing on the time it takes for the an­i­mal to heal. Dur­ing this time, the AHS pro­vides train­ing for the fos­ter par­ents as well as med­i­cal care for the fos­ter pet. Kelly states, “We have ori­en­ta­tions that teach new fos­ter par­ents what they’ll need to know to get started. They will take the an­i­mal into their home [but] we take care of all vet­ting at the shel­ter, and pro­vide [their] food and ba­sic sup­plies.” There­fore, the main things the fos­ter par­ent has to bring to the ta­ble are a lov­ing heart and wel­com­ing arms. And at the end of the fos­ter­ing pe­riod, Kelly as­sures any fos­ter par­ents who’ve fallen in love with their “tem­po­rary” fur-baby are wel­come to do adopt the an­i­mal them­selves! In a world full of an­i­mal cru­elty, the At­lanta Hu­mane So­ci­ety and its fos­ter­ing pro­gram en­cour­ages you to be a bea­con of hope for these an­i­mals, and to pro­vide them with space and time to heal both phys­i­cally and men­tally from mal­treat­ment. “We have 100–300 an­i­mals in fos­ter each month — that’s a whole shel­ter’s worth of an­i­mals we’re able to save!” Kelly says em­phat­i­cally. If this sounds like a pro­gram you or some­one you know may be in­ter­ested in, you are en­cour­aged to con­tact Kelly by email: KTeasley@At­lantaHu­ Here, she can an­swer any ques­tions you have about the pro­gram, give you a list of ori­en­ta­tion dates, and set up a home check.

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