If Our Pets Could Talk
By Jackie Kellum
At Lakeside you will see a wide variety of dogs on the streets. Not all street dogs need “rescuing“. So, what is a “street dog?” A simple description: a dog that lives and thrives to a degree on the street for a long time. They may have an owner, but spend most of their time on the loose. They may be thin, but not emaciated. Some may need grooming or have a limp or old scars from previous injuries, but no acute illnesses/injuries at the moment. They are “street smart”, and fairly savvy about crossing streets. Many hang out in the same place. Most have regular places to get food hand-outs. They may or may not be sterilized. Many have no collar / ID tag, some do. Many dog owners let their dogs out in the morning, and the dogs return home at night. This is their life. Rescue Care vs. Foster Care – What is the Difference? Written by Jackie Kellum and Shelley Ronnfeldt. Rescue Care: (a) After you have determined that the animal has no owner, is a street dog, but is in a critical situation with new severe injuries or in harm’s way: you need to determine your level of involvement taking on total responsibility for the animal you are taking off the street. (b) If you take it upon yourself to rescue an animal from the ‘environment,’ you are assuming both total responsibility for care and cost of that animal during “rescue care” time, including finding a home for that animal. (c) This rescue care plan from the onset needs to address what will happen to that animal at the end of ‘rescue care’. (d) If you know from the beginning that you are not going to keep the animal permanently, or youlater change your mind about keeping it, you cannot assume that one of the local shelters will /can accept it.(e) If you know at the onset you cannot keep the animal, immediately start talks with a shelter to see if and when an open space might be available. (f) The shelters most times are at capacity, and may also have restrictions about what age, sex, size, and breed they can admit.
Foster Care: (a) is a pre-arranged agreement with a shelter and the ‘foster’ parent to take care of an animal for a specific amount of time. (b) a foster parent should never foster an animal without a very clear plan for what will happen with the animal after the foster care is ended. (c) as a volunteer fostering an animal, there should be an established verbal and/or written agreement regarding what the foster parent is to do.
This agreement should include: payment of expenses, what specific care is needed, foster lengthen of time, goal for the animal, foster parent responsibilities and the shelter’s responsibilities during this foster time. (d) this mutual agreement also establishes the responsibilities of the foster parent and the shelter for seeking a permanent home, or the return of the foster animal to the shelter at the end of foster care, (e) be extremely cautious about bringing a foster animal into your home if you have existing pets. The foster animal may be infectious, and most likely not been vaccinated, and in some cases may need to be physically isolated for the wellbeing of family pets.
In summary: If you take an animal ‘off the street’, take it home and care for it, without a prior arrangement with a shelter regarding it’s placement after that interim care period, the care giver has sole responsibility in seeking a home placement of the animal. This is ‘rescue care,’ not foster care.
There is a difference.