A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME WITHOUT A PET
A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME WITHOUT A PET
I would happily rescue a pet in need, but where do I find one these days?
Are you jealous your friends have a dog, cat, or other furry friend – but every time you log onto a shelter’s website, you find yourself in a long line to rescue only a handful of available pets?
The pandemic wrought some unexpected developments to animal sheltering. As the risk of COVID-19 became clear, animal shelters across the country tried to figure out how to reduce their operations to protect employees. The answer was to call on the community to foster shelter animals. In Sacramento, the public responded in a big way, emptying the Front Street Animal Shelter in a matter of hours.
The realization quickly dawned on us that this model was so much better than jamming lost pets into overcrowded, inhospitable shelter kennels. Staff and volunteers alike knew that shelter conditions inevitably bred disease. Noise, crowding, and unfamiliar surroundings lead to behavioral issues for many animals – especially dogs. Older cats often languished in the shelter, getting little attention in competition with kittens. So, rather than warehousing lost pets, why not make fostering the new model?
While this new “foster-centric” or “community-centric” shelter is a boon for homeless pets, it has created a challenge for those who want to adopt. Until the pandemic subsides, shelters are no longer open for the public to “window shop” for the perfect pet. Stay-at-home orders have resulted in fewer pets escaping their homes. Many of the newly recruited foster volunteers decide to adopt their charges. The pipeline for those who would happily rescue a pet has been reduced to a trickle.
Pets are still available online and area shelters have all developed protocols to adopt safely with adequate social distancing. But the supply is still limited.
Are there alternatives? We’re happy you asked!
You can take advantage of the opportunity to “test drive” a pet by fostering. For the Front Street Animal Shelter, a potential foster volunteer need only take an online course. Front Street will honor your preference for dog or cat, and for a larger or smaller pet. And Front Street provides food and medical care for your foster pet. (To learn more, click the “Foster” tab on Front Street’s website, www.FrontStreetShelter.org.)
Of course, an owner may come forward, so you need to be prepared to give up your fur ball. But a distinct advantage is the ability to see if the pet is a good fit for you. If not, write a bio and let Front Street promote your foster to potential adopters, then try another.
Another advantageous model is also emerging from the necessities of the pandemic. Before COVID-19, the city’s Front Street Shelter and the county’s Bradshaw Shelter routinely ran so full they could not accept pets from those whose situations no longer allowed them to keep pets.
Alternatives for surrendering pets to the shelter were often unavailable or inconvenient – and, in many cases, even modest surrender fees were prohibitive for people in the dire financial straits that may have created the need to give up a beloved pet.
Enter “Home To Home,” an interactive website created by an Idaho animal shelter for a national audience, matching pet owners who must rehome a pet with would-be adopters. Front Street now offers Home To Home to the greater Sacramento area. (Go to www.FrontStreet.home-home.org or click on the “Adopt” tab on Front Street’s website.)
Shelters are a scary place for pets, even if it’s only for a day. Home To Home provides an alternative that avoids the shelter altogether.
The website provides a clear benefit for adopters. Owners know their animals best. While the decision to rehome is always difficult, owners are the best adoption counselors for their pets. Owners are more familiar with their pets’ behavior and history than a shelter would be. To learn more about the program, visit the website: https://frontstreet.home-home.org/.
Between the new foster-centric model of sheltering and the prospect of rehoming many pets through Home To Home, shelter space may be more available to take surrendered pets if owners are unsuccessful in rehoming on their own. That’s a win for pets and pet owners.
So, what are you waiting for? Go out and find your furever friend today!
Friends of Front Street Shelter