The great majority of pet owners have the ability to provide a temporary, loving home to an animal in need. A bathroom … a yard … a crate in the garage if need be (with lots of walks, of course). Anything to keep one more adoptable animal off the streets and out of the animal shelter.

Because once an animal hits the shelter the battle is almost over. Her chances for finding a home diminish dramatically now that she’s been institutionalized. Regardless of its quality, the shelter is where animals — as well cared for as they may be — lose the potential for a one-on-one relationship with a powerful advocate: YOU.

Sure, no-kill shelters will handle most animals, but do you live in a community that supports a no-kill shelter? Because that is in part how no-kill communities work their magic: They recruit as many people like you as they can to take on the tough task of fostering needy pets. From pure breed rescues to crazy cat ladies to one-at-a-time fosterers like me … it takes a village to make a no-kill work. 

For me, fostering is an obvious win-win. For the lucky pets the benefits are obvious. They’re trained and well-socialized while waiting for their forever homes instead of living in a loud, stressful environment that little resembles the environment they’ll soon be expected to thrive in.

To be sure, fostering makes for more successful match-making between adopter and adoptee. Which means adopting owners are more satisfied and more likely to adopt again. Hence, the community is not only relieved of one less pet, it’s built a solid relationship with an adopter. Which means fewer homeless pets should future adoptions ensue and/or when enlightened adopters tell their friends, neighbors, and co-workers of their experience.

But wait — there’s the other winner to consider: the foster "parent" (that's me/you). Though it’s true that I cry every time I find my foster pets a home (and almost every time I see them again), it's also true that there’s nothing more satisfying than knowing your intervention helped bring two needy parties together forever.

So how about it … can you take one on?

Dr. Patty Khuly

Pic of the day: "Word Salad with a Biscuit" by eggman