Most rescued animals’ stay in kennels until they are adopted, but AARCS is different

Normally, when animal shelters bring in surrendered or stray animals, the animal is checked for identification and potential owners are contacted. A health check is then completed to assure that immediate care can be provided. At the same time, as much information that can be gathered from these animals is gathered.

Next, shelters move the pet into a temporary holding cell. After being in this area long enough to be properly assessed for more potential health issues and behavioural concerns. From this area, pets are moved to an adoption centre where they wait for a new family.

However, this is where the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS) differs from most animal shelters. Deeana Thompson, executive director of AARCS, says once AARCS receives an animal, it is brought into the shelter in northeast Calgary, which has 12 dog runs and 30 cat cages.

The animals stay long enough to be looked at by a vet, get vaccinated and spayed or neutered if the animal is old enough. The animals are then placed in one of about 500 volunteer foster homes.

“They (the foster families) treat them like they would their own family pet. But we pay for all their supplies. So if they need bedding, toys, blankets, food, treats and that sort of thing,” says Thompson.

Fostering animals seems to be becoming more popular among animal shelters but for different reasons.

Philip Fulton, manager of community outreach at the Calgary Humane Society, says that because shelters can cause kennel stress — especially for dogs — temporary foster homes are tapped to provide provisional relief for these pets.

The animals are provisionally moved into foster homes from kennels when they exhibit signs of stress within the shelter or in order for them to recover from surgery.

“If they’ve been here for a long time, they’re starting to get stressed out, it’s affecting them behaviourally, or medically, we might put them out into a foster home, or temporarily send them to a home with a foster parent just to give them a little bit of a break,” says Fulton.

He adds that foster homes can also be used if there are space limitations.

“We do not euthanize for space or time.”

With AARCS, the animals stay with foster families while they are up for adoption. This process can range from a few hours to a couple of years. However, sometimes these temporary homes become permanent.

Robin Havlicek says she chose to volunteer with AARCS because of the comforting environment it provides for lost and abandoned animals.

“I was a for sure yes for fostering once I found out that majority of the animals in AARCS care were in foster homes, living as they would with their ‘furever’ home. Not on display, in hard kennels with a few people walking by every so often, but feeling the cushy carpet, couch cushion or bed beneath them, going for walks and being cuddled during a rainstorm or scary movie,” said Havlicek

Robin Havlicek holds Bohema (left) who was born with her organs on the left side of her spine. A hospital visit is scheduled soon to determine what the next course of action is for her. And Lennon (right) is 8 weeks old, will be neutered on Sept. 14 and will be up for adoption at that time.
Photo courtesy of Furever Reflections Pet & Family Photography
In the past 22 months, Havlicek has fostered 20 puppies, two rabbits, one cat and four kittens. In the process of trying to find these animals permanent homes, Havlicek and her boyfriend decided to adopt and keep two puppies for themselves.

Havelock is not the only foster family to adopt their temporary pet. Meaghan Ralston has been with AARCS for four years. She began her journey with AARCS by adopting a dog, fostering pets and continues to work at the shelter. After adopting Dylan (a puppy left by a dumpster with a gangrene in his broken leg, who broke his other back leg a year later and had both amputated) Ralston became an educational volunteer with Dylan — the now bionic dog.

Ralston says that both her and Dylan have come a long way with AARCS since they first began their journey.

When Dylan was found, he was untamed and scared of humans.

“He is now and AARCS education dog and fears no more. [I am] an AARCS new volunteer orientation leader and an AARCS education volunteer — as is Dylan, I am a foster home for AARCS and work with medically and behaviourally-challenged dogs,” says Ralston.

Since 2006, AARCS’ mission, according to its website, has been “to improve the lives of animals by rescuing and providing sanctuary to abandoned, surrendered, or abused animals; assisting communities to achieve healthy and respectful relationships with animals; promoting responsible and compassionate guardianship and advocating on behalf of all animals.”

AARCS hopes to be Canada’s foremost animal “welfare organization” by directing our energy to remove animal cruelty and homelessness.

Thumbnail photo courtesy of Google Images, Licensed to Creative Commons

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