Save a life
By Stacey Ritz
Photo: A family of rescued orphaned kittens in need of bottle-feeding, saved by Advocates 4 Animals Rescue; photo credit: Nancy Stroble
One unaltered cat can produce 36 more cats in less than 1 ½ years. The statistics are staggering when you also consider the fact that four to five million healthy pets are killed in American animal shelters annually. The highest rate of killing occurs with cats. Second and third on the list are pit bulls and chihuahuas, respectively. Spaying and neutering pets is critical to saving lives.
“Today, an animal entering an average American shelter has a 50 percent chance of being killed, and in some communities as high as 99 percent,” shared Nathan Winograd of the No Kill Advocacy Center, a national organization founded in 2004 with headquarters in San Francisco. Perhaps the most astonishing fact is that no-kill communities are a realistic possibility. Shelters do not have to kill – they choose to do so. The No Kill Advocacy Center allocates the no-kill equation, but it takes a dedicated effort to implement the programs required to ensure the end of killing innocent shelter animals. In addition to spaying/neutering pets, fostering is another critical part of the no-kill equation.
When you open your home to foster a cat in need, you are truly saving a life. Fostering provides countless benefits for cats, for foster families and for future adopters. When fostering a cat for a local rescue organization, you get to know each cat’s personality and can assist with finding a well-matched home for your foster pet. For example, if you are fostering a cat and you learn he/she is scared of dogs or prefers to sit on your lap, you can share this information with potential adopters, thereby helping potential adopters make lifelong connections. The cats win because they are out of the shelters, no longer behind the bars of a cage and they are integrated into a home where they are loved and cared for daily while waiting for adoption. Locally, Advocates 4 Animals in the Dayton area is always in need of additional cat foster homes. In addition, OAR (Ohio Alleycat Resource) and HART Rescue in Cincinnati are in need of volunteer cat foster homes. Fostering guidelines and applications can be found by visiting the organizations’ websites.
Mike and Lynn Engle of Xenia are cat foster parents for Advocates 4 Animals Rescue. “Fostering cats is really fun! Each cat has his/her unique personality,” shared Mike. “They add so much to our family life. It’s not hard to get started fostering. You gain a great sense of well-being and satisfaction from knowing you played an important role in helping an otherwise helpless animal find a forever home. Getting involved is easy – many pet adoption organizations are in great need of loving foster homes.”
“I would like to let others know what a rewarding thing fostering is,” added Brandi Hutchison of Kettering, a foster parent for the same organization. “Although it is very hard to let them go and you want to adopt them all, you can help so many more by fostering. The cats that need foster homes have no voice and no other hope, and by fostering I am able to give them a chance at life.”
Nancy and Peter Stroble of Beavercreek began fostering orphaned kittens in 2012 for Advocates 4 Animals. “We started by fostering a litter of eight orphaned kittens who all needed bottle-feeding for two to three weeks!” said Nancy. “I hope that by telling others of my fostering experiences that I will plant a seed and maybe they will foster a cat in need.” The Strobles continue to foster orphaned kittens in need of bottle-feeding, helping each one grow healthy and strong until they are old enough for adoption.
Before committing yourself to fostering a cat in need, it is important that everyone in your home be open to fostering a new pet. Some families foster cats with the intent of possibly adopting their foster cat, others enjoy fostering kittens/cats on an ongoing basis. Then, once their foster cat is adopted, they are able to foster a new one – to save another life in need. It is also important to review the guidelines of the rescue organization you wish to foster for prior to fostering. Keeping regular communication with the rescue organization and providing current photos of your foster cat(s) is crucial to assisting the organization in finding a well-matched forever home for each pet.
“Ralph was such a unique rescue cat. As a deaf adult cat, he was so calm and sweet and just wanted to be near us constantly,” explained Dori Stone, who lives with her husband Randy in Lebanon. “We fostered Ralph for a couple of months when my husband who had said ‘we can’t have another cat’ eventually fell in love with Ralph, thwarting all potential adoptions. Ralph was adopted by us! Ralph is now a member of our family. He is constantly by our sides, lying next to us on the couch or between us in bed, his head always on one of us with his paws outstretched.”
Amy Beatty, Co-Founder of Advocates 4 Animals commented, “We are always in need of quality foster homes for cats. We are able to save more lives as we increase our number of foster families. Creating no-kill communities here in the Dayton area is very doable and a key part of obtaining that goal is to welcome additional foster homes for cats
To begin fostering for any of the previously mentioned organizations, please visit Advocates4Animals.com, ohioalleycat.squarespace.com or rescueahart.org. To learn more about no-kill communities, please visit nokilladvocacycenter.org.
Reach DCP freelance writer Stacey Ritz at StaceyRitz@DaytonCityPaper.com.