(CONTRIBUTED/ Brittany Rife)
Brittany Rife with her foster dog Lilly from TARP. Lilly was a pregnant pit mix that TARP saved from a kill shelter in Enterprise, who went on to have 8 puppies while under Rife’s foster care.
For many students, college is their first time away from the warmth of their families and home. While getting a pet to substitute the void of a family may seem like a lucrative idea, the amount of attention, care and maintenance required by pets might become overwhelming for a lot of young adults.
For individuals who are still unsure of taking the plunge of getting a pet, fostering a shelter animal can be a fitting option as they are transitioning to an independent life while still having a furry friend around.
According to Melissa Boatner, a volunteer with the Troy Animal Rescue Project (TARP from Troy), fostering an animal means providing refuge, daily care and love to an animal while the TARP covers the cost of vetting, food, crate and monthly meds. The animal goes on to live in the foster home as long as the rescue deems appropriate, and eventually will be placed up for an adoption into a forever home.
“The best part is that it cost you nothing but a little time and love to be a foster,” reads the message by Tiffany Howintgton, a 2011 Troy graduate and TARP’s founder and president on TARP’s website.
Brittany Rife, a senior social work major from Louisville, stumbled upon the idea of fostering in her sophomore year while she was looking for nearby volunteering opportunities involving animals.
“I’ve always been an animal lover, and all you need is a place for the animal to stay,” said Rife in explaining her decision to become a foster parent.
“It’s not as hard or time consuming as most people think. And honestly, I feel like having this responsibility over another life has helped me learn more about who I am, while also allowing me to give back and help these precious fur babies.”
Boatner shares that fostering gives animals, some of which have never been inside a home, the chance to live in a home. Fostering gives an animal a peaceful place to heal after a surgery or might help a really shy animal come out of its shell. It will get them ready for their forever home.
Fostering, not only rewards an individual with the companionship of a furry friend without the financial burden, it also gives individuals an opportunity to learn about the type of animal best fits their personality type and want on a longer term.
Samanta Haque, a sophomore pre-med major from Louisville, was looking to adopt a dog when she stumbled upon websites that shared stories on fostering.
“Fostering is better than buying because these are animals that would appreciate more than anything to have a home, so I was like why not?” said Haque.
“A thing about shelter dogs is that even if you foster them and it doesn’t work out, they’ll be really grateful to be out of the shelter anyways.”
Haque shared her story of once fostering a black mini lab who had separation anxiety and who she went on to adopt as her own.
“The thing about shelter dogs, is because they’ve been abandoned 9/10 times, they have separation anxiety.
“Fostering these animals gives them a chance to be out of their cage and tight environment for a few days and run around and be loved,” said Haque. “And just to know that these animals are getting joy out of it is enough reason for me to foster them!”
Being a foster parent to an animal provides an individual with the opportunity to experience the joy and the responsibility of having a pet while sparing the expenses.
While the fact these pets might be eventually be adopted by someone else still remains, foster parents have shared that all in all it is still a rewarding experience to know that the animal will have a forever home.
Although the fostering process and requirements may differ between organizations, individuals interested in fostering an animal can do so through Pike Animal Shelter, TARP and Montgomery Humane Society.