The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 6 to 8 million cats and dogs end up in shelters each year. About half are adopted, but the other 3 to 4 million are euthanized.
As an alternative,
animal fostering allows volunteers nationwide to shelter abandoned and mistreated dogs and cats, which would otherwise be euthanized, until they are old enough to survive without a mother or until there is room for them in a rescue.
This month is American Humane’s Adopt-a-Dog month – a month dedicated to informing people about the benefits of adopting a pet, or fostering as an alternative. Different clubs and organizations in Florida rescue dogs.
Fosteringiscool.com is a Web site based in Florida that promotes fostering animals. The site has a list of partners and offers adoption and fostering, as well as events to promote the cause.
Two women at USF bring dogs into their home as well as work to save other dogs by finding foster parents.
Crystal Rothhaar, the public relations coordinator for the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus, works as the rescue coordinator for the Tampa Bay Vizsla Club Rescue. A vizsla is a Hungarian dog known for its pointing ability, reddish coat and affectionate temperament.
There are 500 members in the club, which hosts the only vizsla rescue in Florida, according to its Web site.
The club rescues dogs from Florida Animal Control or other places with vizslas up for adoption, holding dogs anywhere from overnight to several months, Rothhaar said.
“Most people already have dogs and kids so it is hard when they know nothing about the dog,” she said.
This is one of the reasons organizations like the Tampa Bay Vizsla Club exist: to educate those interested in fostering, adopting or perhaps volunteering.
Rothhaar said the club works to match the dog with a foster home that fits its specific needs.
She said vizslas are affectionate with humans while also being a natural hunting dog.
About 40 vizslas are rescued by the club each year. Rothhaar said a lot of the dogs they receive are from people who can’t handle the responsibility of a pet.
“People think these dogs come from horrible conditions, but 75 percent are house dogs and just need temporary homes,” she said. “They aren’t dangerous. They just need a place to stay.”
The club uses Facebook and e-mails to keep in touch with its members, Rothhaar said.
Sue Regonini, who works in the USF Office of Sustainability and is a doctoral candidate in Applied Anthropology, transports miniature pinschers from Ohio to Florida through the Internet Miniature Pinscher Service (IMPS).
The IMPS has representatives across the country and works to save abandoned pinschers.
Regonini began working with IMPS in 1999 and was a “cat person” before finding a stray miniature pinscher. She placed an advertisement in a newspaper for the dog, and IMPS responded.
IMPS is a non-profit organization, and fostering is free. Foster parents are reimbursed, Regonini said.
“Fostering does require a lot of patience and commitment. It is a good way to get to know a dog whether you adopt or not,” Regonini said. “A lot of people do experience foster failure where they can’t give up the dog, but every dog you give up opens a spot to help another.”
Helpers don’t always have to foster a dog, Regonini said. They can also conduct home checks or transport the animals. Regonini, who has a background in graphic design, also volunteers with fundraising.
For those looking into adoption, Regonini said to visit shelters instead of pet stores.
“Please don’t go to a pet store. You’re buying into practices that dogs are disposable,” she said. “Many fosters are purebreds, so it is a better alternative to a pet store and is also more affordable.”
For more information about adopting a vizsla or a miniature pinscher, visit minpinrescue.org or tampabayvizslaclub.org.