If you are on the fence about fostering, let that other shoe drop! Being a pet foster parent is one of the most selfless things you can do and let me tell you why...
I am not going to tell you that bringing a new temporary pet into your house is the easiest thing to do, well it technically is because taking them home is the easy part. The hardest part is deciding to bring them home and making sure the boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, parents and children are on board with this whole fostering concept. My very first foster was a extremely pregnant kitty and I had to clear it with the boyfriend before hand but he was on board. I was sooooo excited that this beautiful mama cat was ready to come home with me. Her name was Earth and she had 7 kittens which we helped deliver. These 7 kittens and mama were my world for the next 8 weeks. I was terrified when I first saw Earth grab a kitten by the neck and carry it back to her nest; I thought she was going to eat the baby ( which is not uncommon in the animal kingdom when the offspring are unhealthy and I have seen it happen) but she was being the perfect mother and just protecting her lil' creations. I could sit there for hours and just watch them; first nursing, then exploring, next was litter box training and finally.... it was time for them to be placed up for adoption. All of them were adopted and now are living there lives amongst families that care for them.
Earth was my first but not my last foster. I have brought home a single puppy, abandoned litters of kittens, scared/aggressive teenage cats, adult dogs of all sizes with behavior issues, mama dogs, puppies and all of them are better off for it because they got adopted. During all this time I have 3 dogs of my own one of which shows aggression, anxiety and wants to be alpha. I am not going to lie there have been fights in my own home and not only between animals but within the household but if you feel strongly about rescue and fostering you stand your ground and fight for what is right and what you believe in.
I wanted my first post to be a little insight about myself but as I thought about it more I decided it should be about the exact moment shelter life smacked me in the face.
As I walked the rows of kennels at the city's animal shelter (in a west Texas border city) I carefully looked at all the faces that pleaded with me to take them. As I walked along with my many leashes hanging out of my scrub pockets and an animal services adoption counselor by my side as we mark who I take with me to the no-kill shelter next door I spot a gorgeous pittie mix! Oh I just had to have her and she was ready for the trip, the trip that would change her life. She was a large dog with the head and body of a pitbull but her coat was exactly like that of a Blue Heeler, I had never seen such a beauty. I grabbed a leash from my pocket fixed it around her neck and now was the hard part... the evaluation. Was she friendly? Was she healthy? She came crashing out of the kennel door straight towards my face and I had zero time to react. When her front legs landed on my waist and she made contact I felt nothing but her big slobbery tongue and wet nose, nothing but pure joy and happiness fell over her and I as she kissed and hugged me. She was thankful, so thankful that she made me carry her like a baby with no struggle next door where she would be safe.
As soon as we hit the intake room I fed and watered her and readied for heartworm testing and vaccines. I put her in a nice quiet kennel with a blankie and waited for the results of her heartworm test. She was positive for heartworms and just as the results sank in she coughed and sneezed up horrible mucous. I stood there in a panic and a million things were racing around in my head "Find another rescue to take her? Foster her and spend my own funds to treat her? Maybe it's just a cold?". As I go to her to wipe her face clear of boogies I notice her twitching in places she should not be and her jaw was trembling. She most likely had distemper and the shelter's policy did not allow any severely contagious cases into the shelter if it could be caught immediately. Now I have treated many cases of parvo and distemper but in those cases they were not showing symptoms upon intake. Sadly and truly I had to walk her back to where she came, I could not risk the healthy population of the no-kill shelter.
The pretty pittie and I walked back to animal services. She walked patiently beside me as we made our way thorough the long hallways to an office where I was to drop her off and alert them she is positive and sick. The staff was too busy to walk her back to "The Room" so I had to do it. We arrived to "The Room" and it was so cold, dark and horribly upseting, it was a room where many local pets find themselves and a room that will be needed until we change our ways. I opened the cold steel kennel door, she hopped right in, sat down, looked at me as if she knew and I gave her a kiss on the head. She seemed to want to take the worry from me. I went on with my day with a huge lump in my throat but I held my head high and did another intake of about 10 doggies that where healthy and now safe form "The Room".
Later that day after my shift I sat in my car crying and asking why? I know why, we all know why... irresponsible pet owners and the lack of education in every community. After that day I knew that the road to rescue is not paved with puppies, kittens and adoption numbers but it is full of unbelievable heartbreak that will shake you to the core.
Lesson: I learned that you cant save them all but we can all F****** TRY!
Moral: Keep your dogs on heartworm prevention, vaccinate and spay/neuter (if this was done that pretty pittie would still be here today)
Fact: Donja's Dogs tests every dog for heartworms and tick-borne diseases and treats them if they are positive with no extra adoption fee added on.