Alanna Livingston admits that after caring for Dexter for the first four months of her life, leaving him was difficult. Several families were interested in adopting the active black puppy, but one stood out. And when their vet assured Livingston that they would be a big family for Dexter, it made things a lot easier.
This is why it welcomes dogs who are waiting for their homes forever. “I want to help them find a new home, seeing them live happily with someone else makes me feel good,” she explains.
Adopting pets is an important way to provide shelter and love for animals that would otherwise have to stay in a shelter – or worse. So, a number of animal rescues in the area are turning to people like Livingston who are ready to share their home and heart with a dog, cat or other pet who needs a place to stay. land until the perfect owner finds them.
While there is no charge for hospitality, the pet rescue pays all veterinary expenses, including spaying and neutering, and may help with supplies and food. And the foster parent can help choose the perfect foster parent, so they know their little load will go to a good home.
The impact of foster families on animal rescue is immeasurable. The Humane Society of Missouri in St. Louis reported placing 7,631 dogs, cats and other pets in 2020. Of those, 922 – more than 12% – were taken into foster homes.
While the number of animals in shelters has declined in previous years, the statistics are still alarming. According to the ASPCA, based on the Shelter Animal Count 2019, approximately 6.3 million pets enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide each year. Of these, approximately 920,000 refuge animals are euthanized, while approximately 4.1 million refuge animals are adopted each year.
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4 The love of K9
When Sherry Lee founded 4 The Love Of K9s almost two decades ago, she just wanted to save the lives of the many dogs she had seen “sitting on death row” in shelters that fill up faster than they did. ‘they cannot adopt dogs. Many of these dogs seem unoptimable, and living in a kennel doesn’t help.
Lee therefore decided to change this dynamic. She opted for a rescue that relies on foster homes rather than an expensive shelter. She was convinced that giving a dog time to socialize while in foster care would make them a better pet when adopted. So far, this is the principle by which it operates the rescue.
Livingston was able to help puppy Dexter learn to behave enough to be adopted, but she insists her Shitzu-Chihuahua Lelu mix does half the job.
“Lelu also takes care of the host families,” she says. “She loves puppies because she can teach them. She knows what she’s supposed to do, so they learn from her.
Panther, a juvenile lab mix, is also learning to behave. Because he is a larger dog, it may take a while to find a home, says Livingston. She will keep it for as long as it takes because she believes in Lee’s mission. She’s been breeding dogs since she found out about 4 The Love Of K9 about a year ago.
Each day, 4 The Love Of K9 will have around 100 dogs in need of foster homes, and around 85 homes available to take them. But Lee needs more.
“We have a waiting list for dogs,” she says.
There are several dog rescues in the Springfield area, and most use foster homes in addition to kennels. Everyone is going through the same crisis: not enough room for the number of dogs who need it.
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In 2006, Molly McKinney met Gina Callahan, founder of the Killuminati Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides financial assistance for non-routine veterinary care. This work made her discover 4 The Love Of K9s, which she now supports by encouraging. His own three dogs help socialize the visitor. As a dog sitter who works from her own home, she is usually able to train the foster dog in the basics – sitting, staying, and pooping outside.
Although she can only accommodate one dog at a time, she is philosophical.
“You can’t save them all,” she admits. “But you can register them one by one. “
All the dogs she raised have touched her heart, but none are as deep as the dog she named Fritzi Broken Legger. Fritz was found in a field dragging his broken leg. He needed surgery and then had to stay in a crate for six weeks while she healed.
“It was the most difficult, saddest, most horrible, saddest thing of all time,” McKinney recalls. “But the reward was that after six weeks this dog had made full use of his leg. We have completely changed the life of this dog. We found him a nice house. It was really enriching. “
Watch over the mustaches
When Marci Bowling began to seek refuge to retrieve the dozens of cats that had been dumped on her sister’s property in the countryside, she soon realized that there were few resources for the cats in need. of a loving home. So, seven years ago, she took matters into her own hands and started Watching Over Whiskers, a foster cat rescue.
Since then, it has expanded to include a facility where potential cat adopters can come and visit the cats. But with only 20-30 foster families available at any one time, she can’t take all the cats that need a home.
“Once you see the need, it makes such a difference,” she says. “It has become a passion. I can tell the difference.
Bowling, who admits she wasn’t a cat owner or even a cat lover before starting WOW, talks about every cat – current and former residents – by name. Walking past one of the three rooms filled with cat towers and climbing shelves, cat toys and, of course, litter boxes, she shakes her head and smiles.
“I don’t know why Liberty thinks she has to tear up the water cooler,” Bowling said, pulling the craft up. “And sometimes she fights with Greta.”
She shows pictures of cats the foster families sent, describing each by name.
When Shawn and Monica Wingert came to pick up a couple of cats to share their home, they said they had intentionally chosen Bowling’s WOW.
“I know Marci is doing it right and they are healthy cats,” said Shawn Wingert. They chose a pair of sisters, one in calico and the other in tortoiseshell with long hair that Bowling named Katniss and Prim in honor of the characters from “The Hunger Games”.
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Being a foster cat with Watching Over Whiskers requires a separate room where new rescues can stay until all of their vet tests and vaccines are complete – around three weeks.
“The challenge is, we don’t want our cats or your pets to get sick,” Bowling says. Another challenge is the perception of the time required to take care of a foster cat. Unlike dogs, most foster cats only need a clean, safe space, food and water, and a little affection.
The biggest challenge in getting animal lovers to become foster parents is the fear that they will find it too difficult to abandon a pet that has managed to find its way into their hearts.
“I tell them, ‘Who’s going to do it if you can’t? If not you, then who? ‘ Says Bowling.
But she understands the tightness that a cat can have on their sensitive cords. She usually welcomes pregnant or breastfeeding moms and she can become very attached. She serves as a midwife for new mothers, as a nurse for the wounded and sick.
“Seeing them healthy and healthy and then finding amazing families” is her reward, she said. “I love helping to find that home game forever.”
Favors needed in the Springfield ar
Bowling and Lee both warn foster families and foster owners that a pet can take three months to acclimate to a new home. If this transition doesn’t go very well in the first week, don’t give up. An animal needs time to trust you. It doesn’t happen overnight.
Sam Elgin is a dog trainer. She has some tips for dog and cat foster families and new owners. “I think it’s important that you start building a routine right away to give them some structure. “
Elgin recently moved here, with his training for small and large dogs, from Oregon. She has already connected with 4 The Love Of K9 and will soon become a foster parent for them. She knows that a dog recently brought to the rescue might have been abused or neglected, or perhaps lost a longtime owner and is in mourning, or has spent their entire life in a small kennel on a kennel. It may take time for these animals to feel comfortable and begin to heal.
“It may take a while to see their true colors,” Elgin says. In the meantime, it is important that the dog is able to build confidence through regular feeding, walking and potty breaks. “For many dogs this can be an adjustment.”
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Lee and Bowling see the results of their efforts firsthand. They saw their rescued dogs and cats find loving homes and give so much love to their humans in return.
But both know that none of this can happen without animal lovers who are ready to welcome these animals until they can become someone else’s precious pet.
“They need you.” Bowling is about cats like Liberty and Greta. “They rely on foster families to be ready to open their homes and hearts… Our job is to fill them for their eternal family… make them good kittens and cats who know what a family is.
“A human’s heart breaks a bit with each foster dog, so the dog never has to do it again,” says Lee. “The reception is not easy. You could shed a lot of tears. But you do it so they never get into trouble again.
Find out more about welcoming pets
4 The Love Of K9s and Watching Over Whiskers, along with other area animal rescues, have plenty of events throughout the year to introduce people to adoptable pets and foster opportunities. To learn more about each organization, as well as promotion and adoption, visit 4theloveofk9s.com Where WatchOverWhiskers.org, and follow them on Facebook.