One of the many non-profit organizations I volunteer with is the Front Street Animal Shelter. They provide animal welfare services for the City of Sacramento and *do not* euthanize for overcrowding at the shelter. One of the very important ways they accomplish this is by using an extensive volunteer network, which I am a part of. For this volunteer work, I was awarded and recently received the Gold Present’s Volunteer Service Award in 2016.
The Front Street Animal Shelter recruits volunteers to assist staff with everything from paperwork, to special projects, to cleaning and shelter chores, to working with the animals. Personally, I put in most of my volunteer hours as an animal foster, meaning I take animals into my home and care for them until they are ready to be adopted. Animals are placed in foster care for many reasons including behavioral issues, decompressing from the loud shelter atmosphere (called timid animals), or recovering from illness.
I generally take two types of animals; 1. Kittens who are weaned from nursing but need to gain some weight before they can be fixed and adopted (i.e. Feeder/Grower Kittens) 2. Small, timid dogs that are stressed in the shelter, but come alive in a home environment which allows them to be adopted more easily.
The most common question I get is, “How do you do it and not get attached?”
The truth is, I do, but I also know I am doing a good thing for an animal and if I want to continue to do this I need to let them go and get adopted when they are ready. I try to manage my own expectations and think of caring for the animals as pet-sitting for an unknown friend (i.e. their ultimate adopter). Also, as the foster I totally have first dibs to “foster fail” (which means you adopt your animal) or adopt to family/friends so those are nice options to know exist, as well.
Seeing the animals reactions also helps
me continue to do this. In some cases, an animal that was totally shut down and afraid in the shelter will be a whole new playful pup in a matter of hours at my house. In most cases of the animals I foster, the dramatic transformation is emotional, not physical. However, I recently had a small, fawn Chihuahua in my home named Liv. Liv came into the shelter so emaciated they were not sure she was going to make it at her first exam. Liv loved people and had not given up on herself and soaked in all the love and food that came during fostering. After living in foster with me for a few months she has almost completely recovered.
Now she is living the spoiled life with my extended family that decided to adopt her. Seeing this dramatic transformation provides the motivation to continue to foster, even if I do miss them sometimes. Seeing pups like Liv prosper is how I continue to do what I do. If you or anyone you know is interested in a new furry friend, please adopt don’t shop! The Front Street Animal Shelter would be happy to assist!