Fostering Cats and Dogs

It’s a common phenomenon for twenty-something women to get clucky, but I’m suffering from a slightly lesser known affliction; dog envy.

I’d love to get myself a canine companion. We could play in the park and take long walks on the beach. Unfortunately, my salary as a full-time student is nothing to boast. I can’t afford to feed myself, yet alone a dog as well. I’m not ready for the responsibility of a dependant, even one with floppy ears and a waggy tail. There is something I could do to ease my dog envy, and it’s a pretty elegant solution to a few different problems. I could foster a dog.

There are a few pet fostering programs in Melbourne, run by animal shelters such as the RSPCA and the Lost Dogs Home. Animal shelters do their best to create a safe environment for the orphaned pets they protect, but often they operate under a tight budget and various other constraints. Conditions are cramped at best, and it’s very hard for staff to find time to interact with the animals beyond feeding them and keeping them alive. Fostering is a way to give rescued domestic animals a break from the shelter while they await adoption.

If you decide to foster an animal, you can’t just breeze in and grab one. There is an application process and a few requirements. You must be aged 18 or over and have access to a car – or in the very least, access to a reliable and safe mode of transport. You need to have enough space to isolate the foster animal from any other pets if need be. You also need some references and other paperwork to prove that you are capable of caring properly for an animal. If your application is approved, you’ll be doing a great service to a lot of needy creatures. Like most charity organisations, Melbourne animal shelters can never have too many volunteers.

The period of care for a foster animal can be anything from two weeks to three months, depending on the needs of the animal. If you’re worried that short term care might be difficult – perhaps you get attached too easily and struggle to let go of pets – there is always the option of long term fostering. This is a service the RSPCA provides to pet owners who can no longer care for their furry companions due to age, illness or circumstance. Long term carers become full time guardians, with the added benefit of the RSPCA paying for the animals’ medical expenses. Using money donated from the original owner, the RSPCA also provides two weeks of free animal board each year and offer support from their staff to help you give the best care possible.

Dog fostering has the potential to be very rewarding, but could also be a lot of work. It’s a bit dependent on what kind of cases you are helping with. If you’re lucky, you’ll get an adorable puppy that just needs lots of cuddles to help it grow. If you’re less lucky, you may end up with an overly loud canine senior citizen who has incontinence. But both dogs are equally entitled to a loving home. If you do decide to go into foster caring, you need to be largely motivated by philanthropy. It’s more about what you can give to a needy animal than what a needy animal can give to you. With that said, I am of the belief that most dogs are naturally caring. If you give love, you are likely to get a great deal of love in return. Perhaps this applies less to cats, but cat people keep finding reasons to love them, and I’m sure you will too.

So if you have a case of dog envy, or cat envy, or even the elusive rabbit envy, why not see if you are eligible to be an animal foster carer. Maybe you’re just a really nice person who’s been searching for a tangible way to give back. Help make a serious difference to the lives of creatures who have had it rough.

Written by Ella Salome

Photographer: Anonymous


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