Foster homes, breed rescues help reduce shelter burden

Traditionally, most animal shelters in our state stay full no matter the time of year. The Aiken SPCA takes in dogs, cats and an odd assortment of other creatures that were once strays. In addition, we give comfort and a temporary home to pets that have been owned by an individual who can no longer keep or no longer wants them. The shelter does all of this as long as there is available space.

Unfortunately, there are many times when we simply don’t have room to admit more animals. When this happens and the pet is a personal surrender by an owner, we try to work with them to find a solution that works for both the owner and the pet. We try to provide the animal a chance at a new home or help to them keep the pet in its current home.

First, we try to understand the reason why they want to surrender their pet. If they are moving, there may be opportunities to find a pet-friendly rental. If it has to do with behavioral issues, we can suggest local trainers, as well as suggestions from our trained staff. The first goal is to try and help the pet stay with its owner. They have provided the pet a home and going to any shelter is guaranteed to be stressful for the animal.

Sometimes the owner just decides that they can’t or won’t take steps to keep the pet with them and is determined the animal must go. We try and offer solutions for this, too.

If the animal is a purebred, we research breed rescues within several hundred miles of the shelter. If not a purebred, we provide the contact information for other shelters that may have room for the pet. We talk about the pros and cons of placing an ad in the local newspaper or online to try and find the pet a new home.

If we know that because of adoptions, we may soon have space, we may suggest the owner to keep the pet for a few more days until that space comes available. Finally, we see if there are foster families to take the animal in for a short time while we research our options.

Foster homes are an important part of the shelter’s operations and its mission to find every adoptable animal a good home. For more information on fostering an animal, call 648-6863. Often, if you make space in your home for just a few days, that can be enough to allow another dog or cat to be brought into our system.

Even though the shelter is generally full, a visitor wanting to adopt may not always find the exact dog or cat they are looking for in one visit. If you have your heart set on a basset hound, Pomeranian, maltese or even a great Dane, be assured that sooner or later we’ll have one. Whatever you want, don’t be discouraged if it isn’t at the shelter the day you visit. Before leaving, let us know what you are looking for, such as the age, sex, breed, size, etc. Leave your phone number and email address and as soon as your match comes in, we’ll contact you before it is put up for adoption. Just about any animal will sooner or later make its way through the doors of the SPCA or the Aiken County Animal Shelter. Come by the shelter Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and visit www.aikenspca.org.

While there, think about how you can help give comfort to a scared and confused dog or cat by becoming a foster home or by adding your name to our breed/type wish list so that we can quickly get the animal into a good environment. Remember, if the type of animal you want isn’t at the SPCA, we’ll check with other rescues in the area. Eventually, we will come up with the pet you are searching for.

http://www.aikenstandard.com/FeatureColumns/1129-Animal-Connection–3609233

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