Austin has made incredible strides in becoming the largest no-kill city in the nation, thanks to many dedicated rescue groups and their volunteers. The Austin community has also played a major part in this development as residents have opened their hearts and homes to dogs needing temporary foster care.
Rescue groups in Austin are overcrowded and need all the help they can get. Smaller organizations that have no brick-and-mortar facility can only save as many lives as they can have homes to house them. Therefore, each foster home represents a life that can be saved. For larger organizations with a physical shelter facility, a dog that goes into a foster home opens a space for another dog to be saved by the rescue group.
Many people still have reservations about fostering. Common concerns include how the foster will interact with the resident dog, how long will the foster dog stay in the home, and how hard it will be to let go when it’s time for an adoption. All valid concerns, but all easily answered.
Brandie Cordova, who has been fostering since 2014, had similar concerns when she began. “My main concern was how my resident dogs would react to a new dog coming into our home,” she says. “But they have been great with every dog and really do most of the work!”
Brandie with a recent foster pup
Rescue organizations benefit from having foster homes to help with shelter overcrowding, especially for dogs that may need a little extra TLC. For example, there are special medical or behavioral cases where a dog would benefit greatly from being in a home rather than the shelter. “I typically take on dogs that can benefit from a little behavior support,” says Cordova. “The most rewarding part is seeing a change in behavior; whether that be a once fearful dog soliciting pets or witnessing them play with another dog for the first time.”
The biggest misconception about fostering is that once the dog is in your home, you won’t be able to let it go and will end up adopting All. Of. The. Dogs. It is true that letting go is hard, especially the first time. “Even when you know they are going to a great home, it can be bittersweet,” says Cordova. Yet, she continues opening her home to dogs in need because the reward of helping save a life is much greater than the brief heartbreak of seeing them move on.
If you are interested in giving it a try, Cordova has some expert advice. “Start by volunteering at the shelter. That is how it all started for me. I fell in love with a dog and ended up taking her home to foster.” Some organizations in town have programs that allow volunteers to host a dog for a sleepover, which is a good way to not only give a dog a break but see if fostering is right for you. “Even if you’re local shelter doesn’t have a similar program, I still recommend going to the shelter to meet the dogs in need,” says Cordova. You may very well make the difference between life and death for a deserving pup – or three.