If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I am a foster mom for homeless dogs. I now have my eighth and ninth dogs in one year. Here are Monet and Monty!

Monet and Monty 8-24-13 Cropped

There are so many homeless animals who need our help, and it gives me great joy to be able to provide love and care to the dogs until they find forever homes. What does not give me joy, however, is watching the struggles of people who run the smaller rescue groups. (I’m not talking about the larger rescue groups or animal shelters.) I’ve seen how they are constantly criticized and second-guessed by others who claim they love animals but have never been in the trenches like these people. It breaks my heart to see their pain – the efforts they make to save as many animals as possible and the abuse they have to endure from those who haven’t a clue what it’s like to do their job.

Do you know what a typical day of someone who runs a small rescue group is like? If you care about animal welfare, you will want to care about these people too and learn what they go through. Most days always consist of responding to emails and phone calls from people who are looking to surrender their dogs. Many of these people say they cannot wait; the dogs have to find new homes immediately or else they will have to go to a shelter. And speaking of shelters, rescuers are always getting pleas from animal shelters who are at capacity to take some dogs. Many of these shelters are open admission, meaning that they take in all animals and are usually very full. Animals are regularly euthanized if homes cannot be found or rescues to take them. Both of these scenarios – people surrendering their dogs and animal shelters begging to take some dogs – create a great deal of angst for the rescuers because they know that dogs’ lives are at stake and they are often the dogs’ last resort.

So that brings us to another piece of the day in the life of a rescuer. They are always trying to find foster homes for incoming dogs and adoptive homes for those already in foster homes. They themselves usually have quite a few animals, much more than most people, because they just cannot stand to say no. They look for other people who also cannot say no and will take more dogs. This takes networking skills. Calling people, posting on social media, sending out emails. Foster homes are vital to the success of rescue groups.

Fundraising is a huge part of the rescuer’s job. Without donations, the organization cannot exist. Dogs often need veterinary care which can get quite expensive. So a part of the rescuer’s day has to include planning for fundraising events and adoption events to get the dogs out so the public can see them.

Some rescuers are in contact with puppy mill owners who frequently call the rescuers at the last minute to come and get a dog or else the dog will be killed. These rescuers will drop what they are doing and drive out to save the dog.

What should be the fun part of a rescuer’s day many times can also create a lot of stress, that’s the adoption process. I could write a whole blog post about this topic (and I probably will!). Finding a potential adopter for a dog in foster care is exciting yet time-consuming. Once an application is received, the rescuer needs to check the person’s references, schedule a meet and greet with the dog, and do a home check. If the rescuer believes that the applicant is a good fit for the dog, it’s a happy event when the dog goes home. But if the rescuer does not feel that the person is right for the dog for various reasons, this decision frequently creates controversy. People second-guess the rescuer’s decision and may post nasty comments on social media which can affect the reputation of the rescue group. People who have never been involved with rescuing animals are usually the most vocal. This harsh criticism is so hurtful and damaging, not only for the rescuer but for the animals who may be affected if the rescue group’s reputation suffers.

I’m sure that I’ve missed something but I hope that you get the idea that people who run small rescue groups need our respect and do not need people who criticize them. Please consider opening your homes to be a foster parent for a homeless animal. Believe me, it will bring you joy and fulfillment that money cannot buy.