Thursday, January 22, 2009

Black Holes of Animal Rescue

(Picture Left: "Dutch" -- Young Shepherd mix who lost his home when owner was evicted. Very stressed in boarding, to the point of becoming "unadoptable." Dutch's only hope now is that former owner can win case in housing court and take back her dog.)

This past December, I sent out a newsletter to more than 300 people begging for dog or cat fosters.

Unfortunately, most of the people on our mailing list are past adopters and most likely not in position to foster.

I therefore was not expecting many responses to the foster plea, but thought we might hopefully get a few.

That hasn't happened.

While a number of people generously donated money (which of course we need, particularly to pay skyrocketing boarding and veterinary bills), the sheer lack of foster homes for either dogs or cats to go to, can virtually put us out of rescue all together.

Boarding spaces for animals is limited. Moreover, boarding animals, especially for long periods of time presents with many problems.

First, there is the problem of stress, lack of suitable exercise and social interactions for dogs. Secondly, there is anxiety, worry and guilt for the rescuers (for we never know how long a dog will have to stay in boarding). There is the mounting expense. And there is the problem of not getting to know or ascertain with any clarity how a dog will do in a normal home setting -- particularly a home that may have cats, other dogs or children.

Most people seeking to adopt dogs have many requirements and questions. All we can say about dogs we have in boarding is how easy or hard they are to walk, how they are in a cage and how friendly they are with strangers. In almost all cases, we don't really know how the dog is in a home or family enviornment and without that information, most people look elsewhere to adopt.

Boarding dogs can become like the perennial "black hole" of rescue or to put it another way, the "Hotel California" of an old Eagles song: "You can check in any time you like, but you can never leave!"

I am in a particular quandary now with lack of dog and cat fosters.

As noted previously, we have basically been out of cat rescue for many months. I personally ended up keeping the "hard to adopt" (i.e. animals with shyness or minor medical issues) cats rescued last year, which basically took me out of cat foster for space reasons. With no new people coming forward to foster cats, we are down to only two cat fosters and both are already fostering rescued cats.

But, we are now almost in the same position with dogs.

Five dogs in boarding and only one currently in a foster home. No new dog fosters on the horizon.

In recent days, two of our regular dog fosters informed me that they cannot foster anymore. One girl has an uncooperative roommate. And the other woman has a dog who is very stressed around other dogs and suffers seizures when experiencing any kind of anxiety.

Another dog foster has some family problems right now and may have to take a short break from fostering and still another has upcoming business travels.

Other dog fosters have either adopted their foster dogs or just seem to want to keep them.

I am virtually out of all dog and cat fosters and that is scary. It means we could soon be out of rescue and at least for the moment, are.

And so yes, I am very grateful that the recent newsletter brought in some very needed and generous funding for without it, we couldn't pay boarding or vet bills.

But, it didn't bring what we really wanted. -- Foster homes.

The Rolling Stones sang, "You can't always get what you want, but you get what you need."

Unfortunately, when the subject is responsible and ultimately successful dog and cat rescue, "want and need" are the same.

Money alone, doesn't solve all problems -- it only buys time, putting off important decisions for another day. -- PCA


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