A foster care network must become the vital force for change if we are to move the larger society.
- Brian Manley, AC Paw
Every animal control officer we have spoken with over the past several years has stated that they would welcome alternatives to one of the most disturbing aspects of their work, euthanization of healthy dogs and cats. The Companion Animal Foster Care And Placement Services program (CAFCAPS) can do just that; offer an alternative of compassion and life. In the process of fielding approximately 10,000 phone calls since our inception, it has become clear to us that many people want to "assign" the blame for this ongoing slaughter of innocent animals solely to the animal control officers. Even if our actions as individuals are beyond reproach - as members of a community, a society - we must bear a fraction of the collective guilt. Our foster care system is the beginning of a societal solution to the societal problem that will never be conquered by a handful of overwhelmed animal control officers. Foster care is a very good alternative.
Once a community resolves to confront the ugly truth, there are the traditional daunting and lengthy tasks of raising funds and constructing a "shelter". Although foster care does require financial support, a small-scale start up program can begin immediately. In the eleven years of operation AC PAW was rescued nearly 4,000 dogs and cats from probable death or suffering and prevented many more from being brought into an already overcrowded world by spaying and neutering every animal before being placed into the community. We have also seen to the sterilization of hundreds of cats and dogs in addition to our own foster animals. Organizers can show results to the community, but first, they must solicit help rather than rely on projections of anticipated results. The number of "honest rescues" your community of animal lovers facilitates will have a positive correlation with the self-esteem of the group and the CAFCAPS program. There must be dedication before beginning the lengthy healing process.
True animal lovers feel a tremendous tug at their heartstrings when they view older, sick, or injured animals in a pound setting. We all know these critters stand little or no chance of being adopted. After a foster care system gains stability, at least some of these animals have a chance at happiness. Animal control officers rarely have the time to rehabilitate a dog with a broken pelvis as a result of being hit by a car, or to bottle feed orphaned kittens for a month. Neither do they normally have the capacity to allow the 10 year old Lab the months it will take to find someone special to adopt him. AC PAW Foster Home providers can and do take the extra time it takes to commute their death sentence to life with a loving family.
The so-called "obnoxious" animals who seem to elicit less of our natural sympathy, the barkers, the diggers, the house training failures and the nomads, deserve the love of a true animal lover as well. Experienced foster care providers understand that many of these problems were caused by neglect, abuse or simply lack of understanding on the part of the previous "owner", and many times these problems can be worked through, resulting in a wonderful family companion. Should these "incorrigibles" pay the ultimate price because people didn't know what they were doing? Although there are some intractable cases, the CAFCAPS program has already turned many of the tragedies around to everyone's satisfaction.
Spread of horrible diseases and other ailments add to the misery of many of the pound animals during their last days and hours before dying. By distributing the animals out in groups of two or three in each foster home, the impact of contagious disease spread due to proximity is limited. It is a double threat for a pound puppy with parvo, or a cat with a respiratory illness; if the sickness doesn't terminate its life directly, the attempts by the control officers to prevent the spread by euthanization will be quicker, but just as final. Sometimes, without a thorough vet exam, relatively minor health problems can be confused with more serious ones and a dog or cat will forfeit its life because it has a cold or stomach distress from anxiety. The small number that any individual foster home works with makes it feasible to first, prevent contagious spread; second, work through minor illnesses, and third, let the animal depart this life with a friend close at hand if this must be the result.
Animals, like people, respond differently. For many, being carted off, or dropped at the pound must be the emotional equivalent of our being thrown into a jail in a foreign country. The AC PAW CAFCAPS program would be more justly comparable to being taken to the American Embassy. Typically, foster animals are members of the family. interacting and playing with other pets and family members. A Collie being brushed near the T.V., a Husky going for a jog, or an unruly puppy going to obedience class are in stark contrast to the anxious, jetty canine pacing a small kennel with only a few fleeing moments to convince some he is loveable enough to adopt. The decidedly more relaxed atmosphere that a foster family provides not only greatly improves chances for adoption, it makes the interim a whole lot more enjoyable.
Can we expect the larger community to accept the "ugly truth" and begin the healing process if the small community of animal lovers shrugs its shoulders and leaves the problem to a couple of animal control officers? A foster care network must become the vital force for change if we are to move the larger society. Societal problems require societal solutions. There is a vast pool of homeless, abandoned, and abused animals in every area and every animal lover should be ashamed that more has not been done on their behalf. AC PAW allows every animal lover a chance to be a part of that "force for change" by opening their hearts and their homes to make a difference.
Expense is a prohibitive factor for many people who want to help animals. The strength of the organization provides a remedy as we pay all the veterinary costs, and supply all food and any other items necessary to operate as a foster home. Rescuing a dozen animals a year, not uncommon for AC PAW volunteers, could seriously impact many people's budgets. We believe many people however, can afford the TLC that is just as important as the financial sponsors we rely on.
AC PAW is always in need of compassionate people to Join our Companion Animal Foster Care And Placement Services (CAFCAPS). We do have a Foster Care contract and a Manual that enables one to follow the foster care guidelines. AC PAW is committed to having zero population from the animals we rescue. To prevent any "oops" litters, all dogs and cats in our foster homes must be sterilized.
If you would like to know more about our foster care services please contact us.