I first learned about New York Pet Rescue in 2008 when my youngest child was pestering for a dog. I had managed to hold off my older three children by explaining that I couldn’t possibly be responsible for another living being. Note: a life-sized stuffed dog under the Christmas tree will NOT satisfy your child’s request for a “real” dog. But, by the time my daughter was nine, two of her older brothers had already gone away to school, so things were not as hectic. She loved the idea of dogs — wanted to pet and snuggle every one she saw, but she was scared and would shriek when they came too close. Socially, this was a problem because 99% of our friends had dogs.
I started reading about dog breeds online (thinking maybe there was one out there that didn’t shed and didn’t require walking in cold or wet weather). Eventually, I ended up on the site for New York Pet Rescue. I learned that New York Pet Rescue had a foster family program, and I thought being a foster family might be a good way for us to try having a pet without a “forever” commitment.
Applying to be a Foster Family
I applied online and called some friends with dogs to ask them if they would provide references. This elicited hysterical laughter followed by a wary agreement to attest to our readiness. Once we were approved, we were told of an imminent rescue transport and asked if we were prepared to accept our first foster pet. Eek! We had about five days to prepare.
As a foster family, we had agreed to provide shelter, healthy food, affection, exercise, and supervision until the foster pet was adopted. Our application indicated that our daughter was frightened by aggressive, loud, and large dogs, so Pet Rescue tentatively matched us with a little Sheltie. Other than the copious amounts of fur that the Sheltie would likely leave around the house, I figured it was a pet I could handle.
Fostering a Dog
On pickup morning, an updated list was sent, and we had been reassigned! There was no longer any mention of the fluffy Sheltie. Instead, we were paired with one-eyed dog/ unknown origin. I emailed for more information (“does it really only have one eye?”) and was told it looked to be part Chihuahua! I was not amused. The placement volunteers said they thought the sweet personality and small size would be best for my daughter. Oy.
So, off we went to the pick up location and gave our last name to a volunteer. She returned immediately with her arms around London, our adorable, frightened little Chihuahua/ Jack Russell/ Fox Terrier in a black motorcycle jacket! We squealed with delight!
Once we had spent a few days with London, we were asked to submit a personality summary and photos to Pet Rescue’s web site. We realized right away that London was a lapdog. It was clear that he’d be devastated if he was left home alone on a regular basis. As a special needs dog (he is, indeed, blind in one eye), he received special medical care paid for by New York Pet Rescue to assess his injury and recommend future treatment.
Placing your Foster Dog with a Forever Family
After our photos and description were posted, several families applied to adopt London and came for home visits. In the meantime, my youngest two children began lobbying to keep London.
Pet Rescue does not encourage foster families to adopt. In fact, they strongly oppose the practice. It breaks a cycle that works so well. After all, they need vacancies with foster families, so they can continue to have accommodations for new foster pets. But, in the end, the placement volunteers realized that London was well-served in our home, and we were well-served by London.
London has taught us all to slow down and relax, and he even acted as a caregiver when my 15 year old son returned home from a frightening hospitalization. So, while we are no longer a foster family (we are London's forever family in pet adoption parlance), we are big fans of New York Pet Rescue.
If you’d like to support New York Pet Rescue, too, here are some ways you can help:
Volunteer to pet sit for a foster family when they go away for a week during their fostering period.
Offer to help at pet adoption events and with transports.
And of course, make a tax-deductible donation to help cover the costs of inoculations, medical services, transports, and equipment.
For more information, go to NY Pet Rescue's website.