Engage in Community-Based Learning & Service: Become a Pet Foster Family
Pet Fostering Helps Animal Welfare Organizations While Allowing Families an Opportunity for a Short Term Commitment to Care for Animals
Have your children been begging for pets as presents? As the holiday season approaches, requests for living gifts can come in a deluge, and for kiddos who have yet to truly conceptualize the long-term commitment that pet parenting entails may not understand the true weight of the “forever” attached to the acquisition of a family pet. However, families can enjoy the adventure of having pets at home by participating in a local animal shelter’s foster family program!
In addition to allowing children experience pets without a permanent, years-long commitment, pet fostering is a meaningful and exciting way to participate in community service. All across western Massachusetts, animal rescue organizations and humane societies work hard to provide food, warm homes, and companionship to animals who might otherwise go without these three basic needs. As any animal-loving child knows, a domestic animal without a home, proper food, or love from a human companion is neither a happy creature or a healthy creature. However, with the help of foster families, animal shelters are able to offer pets the comfort and care of a family and a true home environment while they wait for placement with a permanent family.
Fostering pets is a fantastic way to provide children with the creature contact that they crave while also educating them about the responsibilities that come with pet care and the importance of animal shelters within their community. Not only do the shelters care for the animals who end up there, but they also offer healthcare to the animals who come and go, providing them with vaccinations and spaying and neutering pets in hopes of decreasing future shelter populations. Participating in a foster program can open children’s eyes to these things and more, teaching them to truly appreciate the creatures that they care for.
While many animals placed in foster care rather than a shelter end up being fostered due to their age (litters of kittens or nursing mothers with litters), a great number of other foster-eligible animals are placed in homes in order to give them a more supportive and calm environment. These animals are often nervous, and sometimes need support in learning to behave and socialize appropriately. Fostering a litter of kittens could be a big pile of fluffy snuggles, but fostering a dog with anxiety issues could be much less snuggly and far more challenging. Fostering can be a rewarding experience, but families must be realistic about the type and amount of care that they can offer, and should always keep in mind that they’re offering a huge amount of help by volunteering, but shouldn’t offer to care for a creature (or creatures) that might not be a great match for their pre-existing home environment.
There are many local community organizations through which families can foster pets. While some organizations care only for dogs, others include cat care, and still others offer foster opportunities for small caged mammals and even birds! Whatever shape the pet-sized hole in your family’s heart takes, there’s likely an animal in a shelter waiting to fill it. Learn more about the humane societies and animal rescues below, fill out an application, and enjoy your fostering experience!
Berkshire Humane Society: Located in Pittsfield (with a special feline-only location in Great Barrington), the Berkshire Humane Society offers foster opportunities for every kind of animal that they offer care for. Interested families should submit an application to be considered for the Foster Family list. 413-447-7878. Pittsfield & Great Barrington, MA.
Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter – The Sonsini Animal Shelter offers opportunities to foster kittens, in particular, as well as injured dogs, and special needs pets. Interested families can learn more online and should contact firstname.lastname@example.org to begin the process of becoming a foster home. 413-448-9800. Pittsfield, MA.
Northern Berkshire County Animal Rescue – Providing care for needy animals in the northern Berkshire, this organization is part of Great Danes Around New England Rescue. North Berkshire families can fill out a short questionnaire to be considered. 413-285-3263. Adams, MA.
Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society – Dakin’s foster families generally care for animals too young to live at the shelter, or those who are shy or nervous, and therefore uncomfortable in an environment filled with many other animals. Lasting from one to eight weeks, foster opportunities are plentiful! 413-781-4000. Springfield, MA. Or – 413-548-9898. Leverett, MA.
Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter – Franklin County families interested in caring for a canine friend can meet with folks at the Regional Dog Shelter to discuss offering a foster home. Adults offering foster care must submit to a CORI check and need to be able to bring dogs back to the shelter to meet potential adoptees. 413-676-9182. Turners Falls, MA.
[Photo credit: (cc) Jerry]