Fostering 101 (Dogs and Cats)

Posted on May 10th, 2015 by Anna Nirva

Definition of “fostering”

Providing a temporary home for a shelter or rescue animal, while they are on their path to permanent adoption, as a volunteer for a shelter or a rescue. Foster-to-adopt situations, also known as trial adoptions, are not addressed here. There is a difference between fostering homeless animals and pet-sitting family pets for family, friends and neighbors. Homeless animals usually don’t know their names nor the people helping them along the rescue road. They don’t know anything about where they are at first. And they are typically grateful for your role in saving their lives and getting them out of the shelter. They know.

Typical foster responsibilities may include:

Provide food and shelter

  • In-home living 24/7 usually required for cats and pocket pets; foster dogs might enjoy some outdoor time such as walks and backyard play time
  • Crate sleeping and feeding often recommended
  • Meals twice daily
  • Fresh water availability at all times
  • Dogs are provided appropriate pottying time outdoors
  • Dogs are always leashed outdoors, unless the yard is securely fenced (no free-roaming allowed)
  • Cats are provided litter boxes, cleaned daily
  • Socializing time with family members and other family pets AFTER the foster dog or cat has had appropriate time to settle in and relax

Provide some additional services (these will vary depending on foster type and shelter/rescue organization)

  • Attend training classes with the foster pet, to help the pet become more adoptable and better socialized
  • Attend adoption marketing events with the foster pet, to help the pet meet potential adopters
  • Drive foster pets to and from vet appointments
  • Answer email inquiries, speak with potential adopters on the phone, meet with potential adopters, all to provide essential information about the temperament and health of the foster pet

 

Types of foster homes needed

  1. Kitten/cat
  2. Large-medium dog/puppy
  3. Small dog/puppy
  4. Behavioral needs
  5. Medical needs
  6. Seniors
  7. Undersocialized cats
  8. Respite care
  9. Momma & litter of cats
  10. Momma & litter of dogs
  11. Transport overnights
  12. Service dog
  13. Military family dog
  14. Animals that may be awaiting a court disposition

Read the rest of this entry »

Volunteers rescue dog from top of Mount Bierstadt – The Denver Post

Posted on August 22nd, 2012 by Trish Roman-Aquilino

This is such a hot-button topic right now, it seemed only appropriate to share this on our blog, and get feedback from our readers.  There are several issues rolled into this event – safety of pets on rigorous mountain hikes/outdoor recreational activities, the need for emergency plans for pets in these types of situations, definitions of abuse and abandonment, and laws governing those acts.

Volunteers rescue dog from top of Mount Bierstadt – The Denver Post.

The owner of Missy abandoned her to save his own life, and that of a younger hiker that was with him.  But instead of going back, he spent eight days trying to discern Missy’s fate (and although he contacted authorities for assistance in retrieving her, he did not attempt to return for her himself).

Missy’s rescuers (the couple that found her, then recruited their hiking group to go back with them and assist in getting her off the mountain) want to adopt Missy, and feel her owner should not have her back.  Her owner claims that he loves Missy, and that she belongs to him, even though he made the mistake of assuming she had died on the mountain.

What do you think?

Watch Tip: What to do if you find a dog

Posted on July 2nd, 2012 by Trish Roman-Aquilino

Watch Tip LogoWe’ve all been there – a dog is running loose in the neighborhood, or you see a dog sitting on the side of road, all alone. Most of us are inclined to help in those situations, and this week’s Watch Tip focuses on how to do so safely, thoroughly, and conscientiously, increasing the chances of your found dog being reunited with their owner.

Play it safe

Assuming the found dog is not aggressive or injured, and you can safely get the dog into your car or home, you will want to collar and leash them, so that they will not be able to escape you as well; it is very helpful to have extra leashes that can quickly be looped into a slip-leash.  If you have an appropriately-sized crate for transporting them, even better!  A special trick I learned from a long-time dog rescuer, is to close your car door on the leash, after putting the pup in the car – leaving only the handle portion of the leash extending from the car.  That way, you can grasp the end of the leash in your hand before opening the door, and the dog does not have an opportunity to escape. Read the rest of this entry »

Please help Naoto Matsumura, a 52-year-old former Japanese farmer, feed the farm animals and pets left behind in Tomioka in the wake of the tsunami and nuclear disasters in Japan in March  2011. He lives and works alone in the “mandatory exclusion zone” near one of the destroyed nuclear reactors, feeding and watering the animals who would perish without him. His body is completely contaminated by radiation but he ignores that. He declares he will never leave except for short excursions to purchase food and maintain contacts with supporters. This photo was taken from a presentation he made about his work that is posted on YouTube. The “animal army” is becoming aware of this selfless hero and I ask you to share in supporting his work. Please share.

Chip-in site to help him buy food for the animals he cares for

A web site to share news of his activities

YouTube video captured from a presentation he made in Japan about the needs of the animals in the mandatory exclusion zone where he lives

Huffington Post article (Aug. 2011)

Watch Tip Classic: Identification is Essential

Posted on January 29th, 2012 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip Logo

Watch for collars that are too loose or too tight, and that don’t have ID tags. Pets deserve better from their families. A roaming pet without identification is at high risk for being picked up as a stray and might even be euthanized. Roaming pets can travel long distances. Reasonably-priced ID tags are available nearly everywhere. Speak with the owners or just do it anonymously. You may save a life.

Why Not Provide Tags for Adoptions?

Shelters and rescues often provide microchips for adopted pets, but they are not visible to human eyes; scanners are needed. The specific microchip technology used can be a factor in linking pets to owners as well. And even if a microchip is identified, the owner information can be out of date, causing a whole new set of hoops for the current owner. Collar tags have some important advantages: they are immediately visible by neighbors, assuming the pet allows their approach. A roaming pet can be returned home without aid of animal control. Responsible pet owners provide BOTH microchips and tags.

Could the animal welfare community provide tags at the point of adoption? Remember the most likely time for newly adopted pets to escape is right after adoption. A common refrain is “I was going to get my tags on Monday” but the dog or cat escaped on Saturday soon after arriving at the new home. Think about the pets: they don’t know they have been adopted! They believe that they are in the wrong place and must get back to where they were.

War Hero Dog Died for Lack of a Collar and Tags

Target’s family didn’t put a collar and tag on her or get a microchip implanted. They didn’t prevent her from escaping from her yard. And the neighbor who found Target without wearing any identification of course had no idea who she was, so called the pound. She was picked up by animal control and her photo was posted on the internet.

Her family found her photo but did not check the web site to learn the weekend hours that the pound was open. They came on Monday to pick her up. At the pound earlier that morning, a careless employee was performing her routine euthanasia duties and picked Target by mistake, not following the organization’s process. “Oops.”

Who was Target? Ask Oprah Winfrey, whose show Target appeared on. In Afghanistan, three stray dogs prevented a suicide bomber from detonating a bomb in the middle of a military barracks, and the bomb went off harmlessly near the perimeter. One of the dogs died from injuries suffered from the blast. The other two dogs, later named Target and Rufus, were brought to America by a charity to live out their lives in the land of plenty, where they have been widely celebrated for their roles in preventing a tragedy. Read more here.

Do you see one mindless assumption after another here? These are shameful mistakes that manifest a careless, uninformed regard for animal life by Target’s family and the pound. If she had been wearing a collar with a phone number, the neighbor who found her running loose would have had her back home quickly. Target should be alive today—no excuses.

Watch Tip: First-time Pet Owners

Posted on November 13th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip LogoFirst-time pet owners, especially those who have not grown up with a pet in the family, may lack the knowledge needed to keep the pet safe and healthy.  They may not understand the physical and emotional needs of their a young puppy or kitten. If your neighbors or friends are first-time pet owners, watch and listen for signs of problems. Offer friendly advice, loans of pet-related items and even pet sitting to the new family. Be a voice for that pet; you could even save a life.

Puppy was dangerously neglected by an ignorant owner

A reader recently wrote to me about how her sister made a dramatic, life-saving rescue of a neglected puppy; the story is now posted on our stories page. I love hearing from readers with true-life rescues like this. Sometimes hearing a new story like this enriches my understanding of the root of neglect, which is ignorance. The short-haired puppy was chained continuously to a picnic table in a northern climate and winter was coming on. The chain was very short and it was deeply embedded in her growing neck. I won’t spoil the story by telling you more; read it. It does have a heart-warming ending.

I imagine that the puppy’s original owner made an impulsive decision to adopt a cute, free puppy offered at a yard sale or something like that. The owner was not prepared nor knowledgeable nor even thoughtful. The owner was flatly oblivious. If the kind-hearted rescuer had not been curious about source of the pitiful whining on the other side of the fence, that puppy would have certainly died of exposure within a few hours. This type of scenario is unfortunately all too common. And while I don’t recommend theft as a solution to neglect, certainly the owner violated state animal neglect laws. It was a tricky situation. I know I would not have turned my back on that suffering puppy either.

Does a first-time dog owner know that a picnic table is not safe shelter?

We all have learned one way or another that a picnic table is not shelter for pets. A deck is not a dog house, nor is a clothesline pole. A tree trunk is not a dog house. The side of a house is not shelter. A hole under a porch is not shelter either. A proper shelter in most climates is a dog house; it has a raised floor and a roof and walls and a doorway. (Read my Watch Tip about adequate shelter.)

But first-time pet owners might see dogs living in neglectful conditions and make the assumption that it is acceptable thereby perpetuating the practice. That’s one of the ways we learn, through observation. If that learning is not reinterpreted by someone more knowledgeable, we remain ignorant, sometimes dangerously so. And so puppies continued to be tied to picnic tables with chains that are too short. So first-time owners don’t understand that puppies need their collars expanded weekly while they are growing. They have not been taught so.

First-time owners might not know how to house-train their puppies

I wonder if the puppy in the story above was banished from the house for peeing on the carpet. It happens so often! Many dogs end up in pounds and shelters because their owners didn’t learn how to house-train them, or for intact male dogs, they didn’t learn that neutering prevents territorial marking (if house-trained). In the shelter where I volunteer, we have had three recent toy dog strays, all intact male dogs, all extremely cute. Today I photographed two of them and they both marked spots within seconds of entering the room. Nothing more need be said.

First-time owners might not understand the importance of spaying and neutering

Our nation is experiencing a crisis in feral cat overpopulation. Cats, both feral and domesticated, are more likely to be euthanized in pounds and shelters than dogs. Inexperienced cat owners likely don’t understand how quickly young cats can reproduce. Even experienced dog owners might not provide sterilization surgery to cats, who are second-class pet citizens in some families. First-time owners might not understand that kitten shots and parasite treatments are absolutely necessary as well.

I’m so grateful that kittens raised with litter boxes nearby easily train themselves! That instinct alone has saved millions of lives I think.

Share your knowledge of pet care, house-training, and your love of companion animals with neighbors and friends, especially first-time owners. You’ll be bringing so much good into the world!

Watch Tip: Prevent Puppy-Kitten Diseases, Vaccinate

Posted on September 25th, 2011 by Anna Nirva

Watch Tip Logo

Deadly pet diseases are everywhere these days. Prevent tragic death of puppies and kittens by following a strict schedule of vaccinations recommended by your vet. If you can’t afford vaccinations immediately, don’t get a baby dog or cat until you can. DO NOT let your puppy or kitten paws touch the ground or floor in parks, public places, pet stores or vet clinics until a week past the day that vaccinations are completed. Don’t surrender your unvaccinated baby pet to any pound or shelter or they will likely contract disease and die or be killed after falling ill.

Deadly germs are common, live for months, and are very hard to kill

With the economy challenging millions of families, pet illnesses are spreading like never before because more families are trying to reduce money spent on pet care. Your personal health rule for adopting a puppy or kitten should be to start vaccinations immediately. Get that series of vaccinations started because you will track home deadly viruses on your shoes and tires. Remember, some deadly germs are only killed by harsh chemicals.

Germs live up to a year in dirt, grass, roads, sidewalks, store floors, parking lots. Some veterinary health experts question if annual vaccinations may be necessary, but don’t be misled by this. Virtually all experts insist that puppies and kittens absolutely NEED their baby shots to survive those early months. Do not doubt it. Do not delay.

Follow these rules:

  • Vaccinate your kittens and puppies, following your veterinarian’s recommendations carefully.
  • No paws on the ground in ANY public place until a week past the final vaccinations. If you see a baby pet playing on the floor of a retail store, go speak with the owner. You may save a life.
  • Clean the soles of your shoes with bleach & water mixture after visiting vet clinics or stores with vet clinics inside, until after your baby pet has finished final vaccinations plus one week. Some keep a plastic dish tub near the house entrance door with a folded towel and bleach-water mix to step into upon entering. It’s simple and quick.
  • Visiting baby pets must follow the same rules or don’t allow the visit to your home.
  • Don’t accept free kittens or puppies from Craig’s List, backyard breeders, or “oops” litters as they are likely to be already infected with disease, parasites, and fleas, and treatment is expensive. Good breeders always vaccinate their baby pets. (Don’t ever buy puppies or kittens from a pet store because they acquire them from puppy and kitten mills.)
  • If you adopt a baby pet from a pound or shelter, ask about vaccinations. If the baby has not had vaccinations, go to your vet immediately with your new pet. Adult pets for adoption are likely to have developed immunity to the common baby pet diseases.

In addition to diseases, parasites are extremely common. You must actively prevent disease and parasite infestation in young puppies and kittens so they survive to adulthood, and you must guide others to do the same if they have not been taught about the extreme dangers of puppy and kitten germs and parasites.

This post is written with great sadness to memorialize all puppies and kittens that have died in the past week of preventable diseases, especially sweet shepherd mix puppy Tawny in Indiana, who contracted parvovirus in a city pound and died, despite dramatic efforts by her rescuer Tara Harris and volunteers to save her. RIP in peace, Tawny. She showed first symptoms on Thursday morning and was dead by Saturday morning.

Read one vaccination schedule for puppies and kittens here. Vaccinations may vary; follow your veterinarian’s recommendations.

Andy Nibley is the Director of the new documentary, Madonna of the Mills, running August 24th on HBO.  Author, Sunbear Squad Board Member and Editor Emeritus of Dogster’s own For Love of Dog Blog caught up with Andy for this interview.

 

Andy: The idea behind the film was really to show a couple of things. One, that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. Laura is an office manager for a dentist on Staten Island and yet she, on weekends on her own nickel, rents vans and drives down to Amish country and picks up somewhere between 35 and 50 of these puppy mill dogs who have spent their entire lives in cages the size of dishwashers. They’ve never been petted. They’ve never been walked. They’ve never been bathed and she’s saved over 2000 dogs and she’s done that all on her own.  So that was one thing.

The other was what happens when you spare a life? So I follow four of the dogs that get saved and you see them rehabilitated from the point where they couldn’t walk because they’ve spent their lives in cages. There’s a nice story about an autistic boy and a golden retriever and one about a childless couple who end up with a cocker spaniel. It really shows these dogs can make wonderful pets if they’re adopted.

Read the rest of this entry »

Madonna of the Mills — Catch this documentary on HBO!!!

Posted on August 19th, 2011 by admin

Set aside the evening of August 24th for the HBO unveiling of the insightful documentary “Madonna of the Mills.” This is a film that will stay with you long after the credits roll. The filmmakers have done an excellent job of revealing both aspects — the rescuers and those who run the mills. Director Andy Nibley and his team have crafted a film that needs to be seen by every American.

You’ll remember the enchanting determination of Laura, the woman who, with her family and friends, has rescued over 2000 dogs from the living hell of puppy mills. You won’t be able to look at the misleading pictures of seemingly gentle Amish country folk without remembering the ugly truth of the torture of puppy mills behind the barn doors. Of course, you’ll remember the dogs who Laura and her friends help escape. But what I hope stays with you and I know will stay with me is the casual craven disregard for the animals that is so ubiquitous among the puppy millers and their defenders.

Read the rest of this entry »

Turning it in

Posted on September 13th, 2010 by admin

Hello, readers.  My name is Gerri Bara – I’m a Realtor, a Rescuer and a Writer – not necessarily in that order.  The following post was originally an email that I sent to my rescue contacts in Maricopa County, AZ (Phoenix area). We have a horrible animal overpopulation problem here and there are (thankfully) hundreds of people who make up an informal network of rescuers. We reach out to each other to save homeless animals, share information and – sometimes – vent.  I was asked to post this story on the Sunbear site to help create awareness of the issues we face.  The “E” referred to in the story is the Euthanasia List.

Turning it In
Gerri Bara, Chandler, AZ

My car found its way to the East Side county shelter yesterday again…  all by itself, darned thing.  I brought home a little guy – I think he’s a Beagle mix and maybe some chi – he’s small.  He needs neuter surgery and has been in some nasty fights – he was a stray and street life was cruel to him.  Extremely sweet and gentle.  Great with our dogs, cats, LOVES kids.  While we were filling out paperwork in the lobby at Eastside he wanted to go up to every kid in the place.  Tail never stopped wagging.  They say he’s about 2.

He was on the E for fear.  Same old story.  G et him out of there and he’s a charmer.  :-)  He’s sleeping on the floor by my chair and I sit here and think “if I hadn’t stopped there yesterday he’d be dead now.”  Makes me sick to my stomach.

He has a nearly healed puncture wound on one ear and an open puncture wound on his flank – lots of little and not-so-little scars.  But the biggest concern is his right front paw.  He hobbles and scoots – full of energy – but won’t put that paw down.  Holds it out in front of himself when he walks or runs. I can’t tell if it was broken and healed wrong or if it’s a current injury.  Waiting to hear back from Suzy at CircleL re: vet appointment.  He is already using the doggie door.  Had a bath last night and was very good.  Loves being in the car.  Loves being alive.  We will foster him until we can find him a loving permanent home.

I lost my temper with a lady yesterday … well, not a lady – a lady wouldn’t take her dog to the pound and dump it off like a sack of garbage. I was standing in line in the back at Eastside, waiting for my little guy to get his rabies shot and a much needed Frontline treatment.  He was snuggled in my arms – I swear they know it the second they’ve been saved off the E list.

Anyway, here comes this well-dressed woman with an old black and white chihuahua in a cage.  Just a little tiny dog. He was stressed, panting, laying on his side and looking up at the woman with both love and fear in his eyes. He already had a sense of what was to come. It was SO hot, and I had just looked at so much heartbreak in so many upraised eyes behind a hundred kennel doors.  I was not feeling politically correct.

So I said, “Is that your dog?”

“Yes,” she says.  A little haughty.

“What are you doing?” I asked, knowing, heart sinking – but still hoping I was wrong.

“Turning it in.” she says, with not even a tiny hint of a crocodile tear.  I notice her use of “it” instead of “him.”  Not a good sign.

“Why?” I asked, in a voice I still had control of, but half an octave higher.

“We’re moving,” she explains in a condescending voice, as if that is the reason the world is round. Like those two words provide a perfectly reasonable justification for the fact that we are murdering thousands of animals in this country every day and she has generously let silly little me in on an insider’s tip.

And just like that, here comes my Scottish temper, boiling to the top.  It doesn’t happen often (thank the Lord, because I can’t control it), but when it’s here, it takes over my vocabulary and I never know quite what to expect.  “How can you DO that?” I demanded.  I looked more closely at the dog.  So cute, so tiny, so trusting.  The woman turns her back to me. “They’ll probably euthanize him.  Don’t you know that?” I say in a pleading voice.  “No one adopts the old ones. He’ll be terrified and confused, and he’ll will wait and wait for you. He won’t understand that you’re never coming back. And he’ll shake and cower and cry, and finally he’ll just shut down, and then they’ll put him on the kill list for fear, and that will be the end.  Because you moved.”

She didn’t answer me or turn around.  I think we were both stunned – maybe me more than her. I couldn’t believe those words came out of my mouth, but there they were.  The truth – hanging right out in the blazing open air.  No sympathy and no empathy for her lack of responsibility or her lack of compassion.  How can there be?

Come on.  A chi eats what – a quarter cup of food a day? The lady had a diamond on her hand worth thousands.

“We’re moving.”  We sure as heck are. And it isn’t in the right direction.

Maybe some rescuer with a kind heart will see that dog and step up to the plate – assume responsibility for a life that the woman so casually threw away.  I sure hope so.

The guy behind the counter called “Next?”  I turned around and went inside, out of the heat, carrying my little guy and my paperwork.  He looked at the cute little dog in my arms and asked, “Turn-in?”  Then he saw my paperwork, with the bright, shiny rabies tag stapled to the top and smiled a little.

“Nope,” I smiled back.  ” New Hope .”

As we drive home I think my normal thoughts and dream my normal dreams: the shelter I’ll build when I win the lottery, the never-ending need for creating awareness, my inability to understand a heart that could leave a loving, trusting animal behind, my gratitude for the thousands of others who rescue, and for those who love their pets “’til death do us part.”

Then the little guy on the seat next to me whimpers a little, and I reach over to give a reassuring pat, and for a while I just think about him.

One at a time…