There are several animal shelters throughout Alberta in which you can foster for, with Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) being a very known one.

They take care of animals that do not have owners by providing medical care, vaccinations, spaying and neutering, temporary homes and helping to look for permanent homes. Part of their mission is to be cage-free by keeping all adoptable animals in foster homes. Additionally, they have a small shelter in southeast Calgary which they call a ‘Safe Haven,’ which is used as a temporary, emergency or quarantine shelter.

Caoimhe Beales grew up with animals in the house, owning multiple dogs, cats, horses, fish, a tarantula and a bird. She immediately became a foster parent for AARCS when she turned 18 because she wanted to save as many lives as possible. Beales says, “fostering is a stepping stone between being a stray or in an unhappy home, or living in a shelter, to finding a permanent home where the cat will be happy.

“By taking cats in short-term I am making more room in the shelters for new animals to come in, but giving them a happy home in the meantime.” Beales explains that cat fosterers are needed most since dogs are more in-demand. Animal shelters tend to have more cats than any other animal and less volunteers for them. And due to limited space at the animal shelters, fewer animals are saved from their unhappy living conditions.

Fostering not only saves lives, but also provides a safe interim home for animals that have come out of negative situations and gives them a second chance. It comes at no financial cost to the foster parent because they receive financial support from the organization to cover the costs of fostering.Caoimhe Beales with her senior foster cat named Ash that wasn’t easily adoptable due to his age and his independent nature.

Karen Swords, a longtime volunteer and foster parent for AARCS is currently taking care of four feral cat siblings named Baguette, Brûlée, Soufflé and Croissant. Feral cats are cats that have lived outside with little to no human interaction. They are difficult to foster because they were not properly socialized with humans and commonly have been abandoned or lost, making them afraid of people. They require a lot of attention and love so they can be resocialized with humans and other animals before they can be reintegrated into a loving home.

 Swords was asked to take them in because of her experience with both feral and shy cats, as well as her experience administering medication to cats. They were found sick and abandoned in an undisclosed rural area just on the outskirts of Calgary by AARCS , so they could not be at the shelter with the other cats so as not to contaminate them.

 The cats needed a rehabilitation home before they would be ready to be adopted, because they were afraid of people, refused to come out of hiding and would bare their teeth if anyone came near them.

“These cats were in need of socialization, so part of my fostering commitment was to spend time with them,” Swords says.

Their behaviour has changed drastically in the few short weeks they have been in her care. They are now friendly cats that are comfortable around people and they will likely go up on AARCS’ website for adoption in the next couple of weeks. Fostering prevents un-adoptable cats from living their lives in shelters and reintegrates them into loving homes after being in abusive situations.

Karen Swords playing with her foster kittens in the quarantined room of her house they are kept in so they do not contaminate the rest of the house and prevent her from fostering other cats.

Natalie Hungler found Sasha trapped under a staircase with other puppies from her litter while she was volunteering with Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue. They were looking for abandoned dogs that were released into the wild in a rural area west of Calgary that were a result of a shelter closing down.

Hungler has always felt very compassionate towards animals and wanted to do what she could to help so she took Sasha in as a foster. Hungler and her daughter Neleia fell in love with Sasha. She even got along with her Pomeranian named Romeo, so they decided to adopt her. She says, “I couldn’t see Sasha not being part of our family after rescuing her myself and having her in my home. I didn’t wanna give her up, and Neleia and her have a bond too.”

Though fostering is meant to be a short-term commitment while animals wait for their permanent home, some foster parents, like Hungler, become attached and adopt their own fosters, demonstrating another way of how fostering can lead to happy endings.

Fostering is covered by the organization, but once she chose to adopt Sasha, she paid all of the applicable adoption fees that go toward the rescue’s costs for this particular dog’s circumstances. For Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue, those fees could cover: spaying and neutering, flights (if flown in), gas (if transported in), medication, vetting expenses, emergency vet care and crate fees (if applicable).

 wcullingham@cjournal.ca

Editor: Logan Peters| lpeters@cjournal.ca