Adopting an animal from a local shelter is a big commitment. When a furry friend joins your family, you commit to caring for and financially supporting the pet for the rest of its life.
For those unable to take on a long-term commitment such as pet adoption, Huntsville Animal Services has an alternative solution – fostering.
The City’s foster program allows residents to temporarily open their homes to pets that need to mature, recover from surgery, socialize more or even give birth in a safe space.
“Fostering shelter pets is a crucial part of what we do,” said Animal Services Director Dr. Karen Sheppard. “Without temporary relief from a kennel, these animals might not make it. Our fosters make a big difference in the lives of unsheltered pets in our community.”
Taking a break
Huntsville pet foster parent Beth Partain opens her home to numerous animals per year.
“We can’t always commit to another animal long-term in our house,” Partain said. “However, there are periods where we can commit a month and fostering is great for that. We can’t save every pet, but we can give them a break from the shelter.”
Partain, a mother of four homeschooled children, said fostering is easy because her family is home a lot and her kids enjoy playing with pets.
“We tend to foster mamas who just gave birth or are about to give birth,” she said. “Over the last year, we’ve helped two adult cats, 15 kittens and 10 puppies.”
Making an impact
The act of taking in a kitten or an aging dog may seem small, but it makes a huge impact on that animal’s wellbeing.
“We don’t have the luxury of picking which pets we take in,” Sheppard said. “We do the best we can with the resources we’re given. Fosters help immensely with that.”
Partain said the hardest part of fostering is not getting attached.
“It has made an impact on my entire family,” she said. “We’ve watched the miracle of birth together, played together and taken turns caring for each animal. It’s an eye-opening experience for my kids who love having new pets in the house.”
Spread the word
Unable to adopt or foster a pet? Partain said word-of-mouth helps immensely with continuing the mission of Huntsville Animal Services.
“If you can’t foster, spread the word,” she said. “Support the shelter by making sure they have the supplies they need or by volunteering your time.”
Volunteers don’t even have to be in direct contact with animals. They can help out by assisting at events, greeting potential adopters or increasing public awareness.
“Animals bring so much joy to my life and the lives of others,” Partain said. “You just can’t go wrong in interacting with them even if it’s something as small as walking a shelter dog or bottle-feeding a newborn kitten.”