Fostering involves taking in a dog or cat and treating it like it's a pet for a couple of days or a few weeks.
Not only does fostering an animal give a dog or a cat a break from the other animals at the ranch, but it also helps families learn what having a pet would feel like, said Lisa Allison, executive director for the Friends of Animals Utah.
"If you can't own a pet because of your work schedule, fostering is the perfect way to take care of a pet when you can't have one full time," Allison said during an interview with The Park Record. "We do have a lot of people who live in Park City who work for the airlines and they can only foster for a week. We will certainly accommodate them."
The fostering program has always been an essential part of Friends of Animals Utah and its adoption center, Furburbia.
"When we were first established, we didn't have the rehabilitation ranch, so fostering was a big thing for us because that's where the animals went when they weren't going to be adopted," Allison said. "After the ranch was built, many people didn't realize we still needed fosters, because we had this great place for the animals to stay."
In reality, FOA needs foster families more than it did before the ranch was build, and there is no limit to how many they need. "The reason is because we are able to handle more animals in our system," Allison said. "Since we have more animals, we need more fosters, and we can always use more."
Fosters can choose how many animals they want to take care of.
"Families or individuals don't have to take in whole litters of dogs or cats," Allison said. "Sometimes they can take one dog or one cat that needs a break from the ranch."
Sometimes there are animals that have medical needs that need fostering.
"There are cases when a dog that is recovering from surgery or cats that are ill and would be better off out of the shelter system and in a home," she said.
Also, Friends of Animals will work with any of the fosters' schedules.
"Any time you have to give, we would love to have you help," she said. "Obviously, litters take more time than one dog or cat, because they may need to be bottle fed, or if the mother is with them, they may nurse for weeks. But all we require is a need to open your heart and home and the time."
While the family gets the benefit of taking care of a pet, the animals, especially dogs, get the socialization they need.
"Some of these dogs go into a home environment after they have been bounced around from shelter to shelter," Allison said. "So this helps them interact with people and other pets."
If the dogs are puppies, fostering helps with potty training and walking on a leash.
"It also helps these animals become part of the community, so they can be more readily adopted," Allison said. "Sometimes a foster family will adopt the fostered animals."
For more information about fostering an animal from Friends of Animals Utah, visit www.foautah.org .