Here are all the kitties I fostered for PAWS Chicago in 2013. Each one has a very special place in my heart, even though I only had each for one to eight weeks. Each came to me with a special set of issues that needed tending to before they could be adopted into their forever homes. Almost all had respiratory infections at some point. A few had intestinal issues–which is not a glamorous nursing job! Some were motherless and needed to be hand-fed until they were old enough to each and potty on their own. Some just needed a week or two away from the shelter to relax or get all their booster shots before they could be spayed/neutered. And, sadly, not every story has a glorious, happy end. Some babies were just never strong enough to thrive because they were born into a cruel world where nature and humans didn’t care for them as they deserved.
I remember all their names. I know all their sweet faces. I will always be the only “mama” sweet babies Teeter, Flippy, and Swing ever had. They are as special to me as the two kitties I raised and cared for in my life for over fifteen years.
Fostering animals when they are at their most vulnerable, at their weakest is my calling (outside of my professional work as a photographer, educator, writer, etc.). I cannot imagine ever not doing it now! There are times when work and life get incredibly hectic. I simply take a few weeks or month off from fostering, then get my home ready once again when things are in order. It is not for everyone. It requires great patience, understanding of the species you are caring for (I am now the go-to gal for many of my friends for basic kitty advice), and there is some heartache as well. But in the end, fostering (in my opinion) is THE most important stage in an animal’s life as a rescue.
I hope this sweet little slideshow encourages people to seek out the shelters and rescue in their hometowns, and ask how they can help animals in need. It’s not just cats and dogs, but also rabbits, parrots, lizards, guinea pigs, potbelly pigs, chickens, and so many others. And, shelter don’t just need volunteers and financial donations (although both are very important!). They also need old blankets and towels, food donations, drivers who can take sick animals to a vet appointment, community outreach, marketing help, fundraiser event help, and so much more. Reach out and ask. Be part of a solution–giving abused, abandoned, and unwanted pets a happy, healthy life, and lowering animal populations with better animal husbandry and education.
I am so lucky to be part of the PAWS Chicago program. But there are dozens of stellar rescues in my city. Felines and Canines, Trio Animal Foundation, Home, Tree House Cat Rescue, and so many others! I am so excited Chicago recently passed a city ordinance banning the sale of cats, dogs, and rabbits in pets shops, except certified shelter rescues! The number of animals euthanized at the county open-access shelters has gone way, way down in ten years to record lows. I hope Chicago continues to lead the way in how animal rescue can be done humanely, smartly, and with great pride.
Again, please find the local shelters and rescue in your area, and ask how you can help in whatever ways you are able.