The Red Deer and District SPCA is looking for Central Albertans to open their homes and help animals who are in need.
The Foster Program at the shelter was developed several years ago and allows the shelter to place animals in a number of different homes to be cared for.
“Becoming involved in the Foster Program is a fulfilling position to have,” said Amy Corpe, animal care manager with the SPCA and registered social worker. “Some people can’t fully own an animal but this gives them an opportunity to still love and care for an animal.”
Being a foster home for the SPCA means providing temporary care for animals from the shelter. These animals need foster care not simply because the shelter is full or over-crowded, but because they find themselves at the shelter due to extenuating circumstances. The animals may also need to be placed in a foster home because their owners are fleeing from a domestic violence situation.
“If a woman is leaving a domestic violence situation, most won’t leave if they can’t take their pets with them,” said Corpe. “Our program is very important.”
Currently the SPCA has about a dozen foster homes that they rely on, but the need is greater than that. The SPCA hopes to get at least 12 more homes that will take cats and kittens.
Lynda, whose last name cannot be mentioned because she sometimes fosters animals from domestic situations, has been participating in the program for about three years and is the coordinator of the Foster Program.
“As a foster home I can say the rewards of taking animals, especially babies that are completely dependent and watching them grow and thrive is amazing,” said Lynda. “It’s allowed me to have a variety of animals in my home, all of which have their own individual personalities. You have a sense of accomplishment that you can help out some of God’s creatures.”
Kitten season has also begun and the SPCA is already feeling the crunch, as many babies are being found abandoned or orphaned and then brought into the shelter for care.
“We always need lots of help with all of our babies because Lynda is our only home that can syringe feed and offer special care to them, so we need to find homes that are willing to learn how to do that,” said Corpe.
It is also a benefit to the Foster Program to have a variety of home environments to place the animals in.
“Sometimes we want places that don’t have any children, sometimes we want some with children or with or without other pets depending on what that animal is used to,” said Lynda. “Sometimes we need homes for the animals to come out of the shelter for a break from shelter life because it’s stressful and often noisy.”
Having foster homes also allows the SPCA to get a better handle on the animals’ personalities which helps them to be placed with the right family once they are ready to go up for adoption.
“The animals behave differently in a home environment than they do in the shelter so you are able to see their true personality,” said Lynda.
Many may think after caring for an animal for a period of time it would be hard to give that animal back to the SPCA to be put up for adoption.
“We like to think of it as if you’re going into it knowing that you’re just there to help that animal in that short period of their lifespan and then you’re just making such an impact on their life to enable them to be adopted and to find their forever home,” said Corpe. “These foster homes are huge for us in helping these animals find their forever home.”
The length an animal would stay at a foster home would vary depending on the circumstance. Animals can require an overnight stay or up to a six or eight-week stay.
For more information about the SPCA’s Foster Program call 403-342-7722 ext. 208.
The SPCA pays for the program so participating homes do not incur any costs.
Application forms for the program are available at the Red Deer and District SPCA at 4505 77 St.