“Surely you have a little more space in your home for ONE more!”
“C’mon! You already have three. What difference does one more make!”
“This dog needs a foster home. It will only be for a little while. Don’t you LOVE dogs?”
I’m sure that you’ve had something like this either said to you or implied strongly at one point or another. And, while I think that rescuing and fostering is to be encouraged, I think that there is a checklist to go down before you commit.
1. Do you have small children?
Any animal is unpredictable. Even if a rescue off the streets seems very friendly, you do not know its past or what could trigger aggression. Use special caution with kids who do not know warning signals.
2. Are you barely able to keep your current pets under complete veterinary care?
Animals are expensive to care for. Adding an additional animal may compromise your ability to care for your current pets.
3. Could you afford a major emergency expense?
Animals can be unpredictable. Many of the injuries and fights I see come from new animals in the house. Midnight vet visits can put a strain on everyone.
4. Is the animal aggressive (food, people, other dogs, kennel)?
If you aren’t trained or comfortable with managing aggression, stay away.
5. Do you have enough time and sanity to add something to your schedule?
If you already have too much on your plate, then adding another animal will be doing a disservice to yourself, all the animals and people in your life, and ultimately the rescue itself.
6. Are there preexisting health conditions that will be expensive or time consuming?
Chronic health concerns can tax everyone in the family. Unless you are ready for a serious commitment, a preexisting condition is a big reason for a pause in the process.
7. Could your other animals handle another addition to the family (physically or mentally)?
Some animals are older and could not handle the stress of a new younger animal. Other animals have disease states or habits that depend upon a precise set of conditions. You may not know that there is such a delicate balance until you stir the pot.
8. If you are fostering, is this animal adoptable?
If not, you may be fostering for the next 15 years. If this is a possibility you are not able to deal with, then a foster is a no-go.
9. Does this animal have contagious parasites or other communicable diseases?
Again, the livelihood of the animals and people under your roof is your first responsibility.
10. Do you feel pressured into this commitment by your friends/family?
You may look like a bad person for saying no to a rescue, or you may have someone hanging the threat of euthanasia over your head if you don’t rescue. However, if you are struggling with any of the above items, I would argue that it is more kind to say no now.
I would say that human adoption agencies have the right idea. First, they make sure that you can afford, care for, and manage your current life situation. Then they make sure you know what you are getting into. If you meet the criteria and you demonstrate that you are able to fully care for a new addition, then you get the green light.
Many dogs and cats desperately need homes. If you look at all the animals who will die without your help it can be heartbreaking. However, I would recommend that you take inventory of your life and decide what, if anything, you can handle. You are not evil and unfeeling if you say no. Ultimately, the decision to wait on a rescue or a foster is a weighty one. Deciding to wait is also a decision made out of compassion.
– Doc Cleland