The pet homelessness crisis in the U.S. and throughout the world shows no signs of abating any time soon. It is estimated that 70 million cats and dogs are currently living on the streets in towns and cities across the U.S., with an estimated six to eight million animals entering the shelter system each year. Sadly, the task of caring for all these animals and finding forever homes for each one is far from simple. The euthanasia rate in shelters is very high. Pit Bulls, elderly or disabled dogs, and black dogs are most likely to be put down due to a lack of interest from potential adopters. Over 90 percent of Pit Bull-type dogs meet their deaths in shelters for this reason. It is estimated that between 1.5 million and 3 million animals are euthanized in U.S. shelters every year … and these estimates are conservative!
No-kill shelters and animal rescue groups aim to ensure that no healthy, adoptable animal who needs their help is ever put down. However, they often rely entirely on voluntary workers, donations from the public, and the regular availability of foster carers who can look after the animals until they are successfully rehomed. Sadly, it is impossible for them to help every animal who comes their way.
In the face of this worrying situation, the renowned actress and animal activist Alison Eastwood is determined to make a difference.
Through her animal rescue non-profit organization, the Eastwood Ranch Foundation, she has established a pioneering new initiative called Foster Fur Kids. Foster Fur Kids is an online database system that aims to match animal rescue groups and animals in need with willing foster parents. In an interview with One Green Planet, she said, “My rescue partner at Eastwood Ranch Foundation, Maissa Dauriac, actually came up with the idea because we really needed fosters for our rescue pets and couldn’t find any quickly. The website was born out of necessity, as fostering is an integral part of shelter rescue. We also wanted to help other rescues find fosters in their area to save lives.”
The primary aim of Foster Fur Kids is to make it much easier for foster parents to connect with the animals who need them.
People who want to be listed on Foster Fur Kids’ database can set up their own profile on the site, which will list their preferences and the amount of time they can commit to fostering. These preferences can include the type and breed of animal they want to foster, as well as the animal’s age, temperament, and energy level. People can also select whether they want to be a volunteer or paid foster, and set their own rates. A Frequently Asked Questions section is also available on the website, to address any queries potential foster carers may have. “Being a foster is a great way to have a dog or cat without the expense and long-term commitment,” Eastwood explained. “Every pet placed in a foster home opens up valuable space for a rescue organization to take in another shelter animal before they are euthanized.”
Food, bedding supplies, leashes, bowls, cat litter, veterinary care and other essential resources are provided by the rescue group that originally takes in the animal, so the animal’s foster parent does not have to pay for a thing.
For those who cannot commit to fostering, but would like to help in some way, there is also an option to register on the site’s “pet transporter” database. Pet transporters play a vital role in the rescue process. As Eastwood stated, “Finding somebody who can drive to a shelter or an animal in need, and pick up an animal to take it to safety, is a life-saving resource. It’s a wonderful way to help shelter animals and rescue pets without having the commitment of fostering or adopting.” People who are interested in becoming a pet transporter can register their details on the site and opt to volunteer their services, or post their mileage rates and be paid for their time.
Eastwood hopes that the Foster Fur Kids database will help revolutionize the animal rescue system and save countless lives.
Eastwood told One Green Planet that she was inspired to make a difference in the fight against pet homelessness because of her lifelong adoration for animals. “I have always loved animals for as long as I can remember,” she said. “I feel the need to protect and love nature and all of its creatures.” With regard to the mighty task of ending the crisis, she stated: “We must have overall federal and/or state legislation that implements strict rules on spaying, neutering, and animal breeding. Above all, I think that there needs to be a collective, conscious effort amongst humans to be responsible for our pets and the animals in our world. They deserve a place here as much as we do and someone needs to be their voice.”
Eastwood’s passion for helping animals guides her through the most difficult parts of her rescue work.
Eastwood Ranch Foundation – like many other animal rescue organizations around the country – has to manage their time and resources as effectively as possible. “There is so much need out there,” Eastwood said. “Unfortunately, you cannot save them all, but we do our part. There are so many great rescues out there. When you find an amazing forever home for a pet that was going to be killed in a shelter, it makes it all worthwhile.” Foster Fur Kids is a major element of her plan to help as many homeless animals as possible, and she is determined to do all that she can to help it grow.
“We want to keep building and building our database to help more rescues and animal lovers (fosters and transporters) across the nation find each other,” she said. “We are actively working to increase the number of rescue organizations that list animals in each state, as well as the number of fosters that sign up to take these animals for a period of time. By doing so, we can save lives!” There is no doubt that Foster Fur Kids’ imaginative approach will go a long way toward helping shelter animals in crisis.
To find more, go to the Foster Fur Kids website, Facebook page or Twitter account. You can sign up to become a foster parent here, or a pet transporter here. You can also learn more about the pet homelessness crisis – and how you can help – by reading the articles below!
- 12 Alarming Facts About Pet Homelessness
- How the U.S. Compares to Other Countries in Terms of Caring for Homeless Animals
- 3 Ways People Are Working to Change Stereotypes About Shelter Animals
- So You Want to Adopt a Pet? Here’s What You Need to Think About First
- How to Find the Perfect Rescue Dog for Your Family