OPINION: Fostering Chilton’s Fur Babies

Published 11:57 am Monday, April 19, 2021

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By Elisabeth Altamirano-Smith/ Community Columnist

Dogs and cats at Chilton County Humane Society are eagerly waiting for families to adopt them and take them to their forever home. Many times, animals are abandoned at the shelter faster than families can be found to adopt them. An alternative to euthanasia  is being fostered by families within the community. A few homes within Chilton County open their doors to fostering an animal for a few weeks until a rescue vehicle can arrange to pick up the animal for transport.

“The average time that families usually foster an animal is between two to four weeks” said Fur Foster Mom, Tina Austin.

Austin has been providing foster homes to the humane society for 15 years. By providing a foster home, she acts as a safe transition place between the shelter and rescue organizations.

“Rescue organizations are wonderful because you know there is a team of people that will love and take care of that animal, but the rescues are spread out around the United States and they can’t immediately come get the animal. There are rescues that are located in Connecticut, Minnesota and South Florida that we work with. So the animal stays at the foster home until transportation can be provided.”

Chilton Humane Society Director, Jennifer Fesmire encourages the community to visit the Humane Society and submit a foster home application. There is not any special training that is needed, only a safe home and atmosphere for the foster animal.

“Every animal group is different,” said Fesmire. “Foster cats need to stay inside. Dogs can be inside or out, but a fenced yard is ideal. If the foster home already has pets, it is important that they are up-to-date on their vaccinations and shots so their animal doesn’t get sick, or their animal doesn’t make the foster animal sick.”

Fesmire also states that is also important that people know their pet’s temperament. If someone is fostering and isn’t sure how their pet will respond to a new dog or cat, they can bring their dog or cat to the humane society so the two can meet.

“Some of these foster animals are working on (emotional) issues that can help them be adopted in the future,” said Austin.

Austin is currently fostering “Layla” a large, mixed-breed dog who has experienced trauma and is afraid of people.

“She is terrified of people and needs a safe space like a crate that she can go to when she feels scared,” said Austin. “Being a foster home helps me identify her needs which helps the rescue team know what she does or doesn’t need at her future forever home.”

Austin said that taking an animal to transport is an emotionally-moving experience.

“The airplane transport comes to Chilton County every weekend, if weather is permitting,” said Austin. “We prepare the animals for their flight and as they take off it is moving to see them fly off to their future life. Knowing that you helped that animal get to where they needed to be is rewarding. They can’t pay you or say ‘thank you.’ It just leaves you with a great sense of doing the right thing.”

The Chilton County Humane Society is currently in need of additional foster homes. For more information, contact (205) 755-9170. Chilton County Humane Society is located at 139 Shade Tree Drive, Clanton, Alabama.