Did you know that animal shelter employees and volunteers are considered essential workers? While you sit safely in your home, it’s their responsibility to travel to work every day to feed and care for animals without homes.
The good news? Most of these animals are up for foster or adoption.
Not only will you be helping essential workers, but you will be giving an animal a home. “We have seen a huge increase in people applying to foster and adopt animals during COVID-19. Well over 1,000 new people have applied to foster a pet in the past two months, which is more than the number of animals we have had in our care during that time,” St. Huberts NJ Shelter Foster and Offsite Coordinator Stephen Valentin said. You may even find yourself less lonely with a furry friend following you around.
You Will Have Someone to Keep You Company
It can feel easy to become lonely during the quarantine period and even easier to become tired of your daily routines as the days stack up. According to the Centers for Disease Control, those who own pets on average feel a decreased sense of loneliness and increased opportunities for socialization. While you may not have the opportunity to head out for a night with your friends, having a pet running around your home will likely provide some sense of interaction.
You Will Have Someone to Care For
Having a pet to feed, spend time with and exercise will allow you to disrupt the routine that you have likely lived for the past however many weeks. According to the Centers for Disease Control, pet owners have increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities. In fact, dog owners are 14 times more likely to walk for recreation. “Dogs require walks, which help people get some physical exercise as well. Cats and dogs both offer companionship, which is especially important during COVID-19 quarantine,” Valentin said. Not only will walking your pet push you to stay in shape, but caring for another will switch up and give your routine more meaning.
Fostering Saves Lives
By taking an animal out of the shelter, you open that space for another. This keeps pets off of the streets and out of kill-shelters. Plus, fostering allows animals to get accustomed to living in a home, an environment that shelters struggle to imitate. “A home is a very different space than a kennel and fostering gives many animals a chance to relax away from the chaos and the noise of the shelter environment,” St. Huberts NJ Shelter Chief Operating Officer Michelle Thevenin said. In doing so, your fluffy new friend will grow to be better prepared for adoption.
Your Work as a Foster Home Will Help That Pet Find a Forever Home
Foster families gather great information about the pet that can be shared with potential adopters. They’ll be able to experience life outside of the shelter with more attention and care. They will inevitably feel more comfortable, and his or her personality can shine through, which will help future adopters decide whether this pet is a good fit for their home.
You Can Keep the Pet For a Designated Period of Time
Don’t have the time, money or energy for a long-term commitment? No worries. Fostering an animal will allow you to provide a homeless pet with a temporary home that improves your routine. And once you return to work or school, your foster animal can find a forever home or return to the care of shelter workers. “You are going to get attached, and it’s going to be hard to say be, but fostering a pet is an extremely selfless act,” Lehigh University junior and current pet foster parent Sarah Valenti said. You may need to say a tough goodbye to them, but you can rest easy knowing you gave them a wonderful temporary home.
How to Prepare:
Begin by contacting your local animal shelter. Their policies have likely changed due to the pandemic. Be prepared to ask the animal shelter how you will pick up your new pet with as little contact as possible, as well as what products they need and if they require any medication and how to find it.
Once you know what your pet needs, either safely travel to a store or order their supplies online. Also begin to prepare your home, whether you puppy-proof or kitty-proof it. Each animal will likely require different house layouts.
The Basics for a Cat or Dog:
Once you have successfully picked your new friend up, make sure to spend time with him or her to allow the animal to become used to you and the home.
“The animal is going to need an adjustment period when you first bring them home. They have gone from their normal routine, into a shelter, then into a new home with strangers who they don’t know very well,” Valentin said. Do not feel worried if your new cat or dog does not want to play right away; allow your new friend to adjust.
Taking some of the burden off of the hands of essential shelter workers will make you feel good and so will caring for an animal who simply needs love. If you are in search of a way to give back during your time alone, fostering a pet is a great option. And while giving back, you will likely improve your own mental health and state of mind. Who knows, you may even adopt your new furry friend.