Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Petpals – Foster care for pets

Part-time care for young animals that are awaiting adoption is a rewarding journey. The new foster programme anchored by Blue Cross gives Chennai-ites a chance to take care of a puppy or kitten for two to four weeks until the animal finds a permanent home.

Fostering is becoming increasingly popular across the world, and is seen as a solution for over-burdened shelters that cannot provide individual attention to rescued and vulnerable animals. It's also an opportunity for a person to enjoy all the benefits of keeping a companion animal, when he/she is not in a position to adopt one. “But it's a nice way to experience what it is like to keep a pet, by taking care of one for a few weeks and observing how it changes your lifestyle,” says a volunteer of the programme.

Foster parents provide space for the animal in their homes and administer special care if necessary (for example, bottle feed newborns) in a relatively infection-free environment and give the pet affection. Volunteers at the shelter set out to find permanent homes for the pet, after which the foster caretaker hands over the pet to the permanent family. A pet that has been fostered escapes the stress that comes from living in a facility where there are hundreds of other animals, and also gets a head-start in being socialised by humans.

Volunteers check foster parent's schedule, level of experience, and other factors such as existing pets. Says puppy rescuer Jennifer Jacob: “Foster parents Shiva and Sobhana Rani took care of three homeless puppies I rescued, and also successfully found permanent homes for them. They did a fantastic job of helping out during a time of need.”


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