Mount Pleasant, Cultured featured contributor, Juliana Willems
Walking down the cozy neighborhood streets of Mt. Pleasant DC, you’re bound to see a dog on almost every corner. If you live in the neighborhood, you’ve probably even started recognizing these dogs (and, if you’re like me, you recognize them way more often than you recognize their owners).
Many of us see these furry faces and think, “I would really love to have a dog.” Or maybe, “I would love to get another dog, but I already have one (or two or three).” The thought of committing 12+ years to a four-legged creature can be daunting, and can sometimes prevent dog lovers from making the plunge into dog ownership. Well, my friends, I have the perfect solution: fostering.
When you foster a homeless pet, you are providing them with a safe, comfortable home while they await their permanent forever family. The nice thing about fostering is that, in most cases, it’s a short term gig. You can get your dog fix without that big commitment! Each animal rescue organization is different, but groups can need everything from a one or two day foster for in-between situations, to more long-term foster homes for perhaps a medical or behavioral case. The good news is that there is an ideal situation out there for everyone.
Fostering a pup in need is worth it for everyone involved. You as the foster family get your dog fix in short, manageable bursts, the shelter or rescue organization gets additional resources to help more animals in need, and the dog gets a much needed break from whatever environment they were in before. For many dogs, a foster home is the first time they experience consistency, routine, safety, trust, comfort, warmth, affection, predictable meals, toys, walks and love. Additionally, putting a dog in a foster home helps not just one dog - the one you bring home - but also the dog that there is now an open kennel space for.
I fostered dogs for many years, and the question I always got was, “How can you give them up?” Of course it is heartbreaking to say goodbye. You bring this dog in and you love her like she’s you’re own and then suddenly you’re handing her off to someone else. But you have to keep in mind the impact that fostering has: every dog you help to get adopted is another dog that will have the chance to pass through your home and your heart; another life saved. Plus, when you see your foster dogs in their forever families, it makes your heart absolutely burst with happiness. It’s always worth it in the end.
If you’re interested in fostering a dog (or cat or small animal!), there are many groups in the area who have foster programs. Some larger shelters that need foster homes include the Washington Humane Society (www.washhumane.org), Washington Animal Rescue League (www.warl.org) and the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (www.awla.org). A quick Google search of “dog rescue group Washington, DC” will bring up smaller non-profits who function almost entirely out of foster homes. Each group has a different program, so it’s best to do some research and find a group that best suits your needs.
I urge you to consider fostering a homeless pet, and I guarantee that the grateful little furball you bring home will show you just how rewarding it can be.