The world is a scary, stressful place right now. Parents are juggling the pressures of working from home with the added stress of school closures. Workers, especially those in the service industry, are facing either layoffs or a reduced work schedule. Meanwhile, physical distancing means forgoing many of the routines that keep us grounded.
One way to make the world a lot friendlier, and a little less lonely, is to foster a pet. Given all of the necessary precautions, a lot of shelters are currently in need of volunteers to offer a temporary home to their animals, in order to free up resources. Even if you aren’t in a position to offer a permanent home, fostering is a way to help an animal in need. The good news is that it doesn’t look like pets can transmit COVID-19.
Having a pet comes with a lot of health benefits. These include decreased blood pressure, cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels. The most important benefit, especially in the era of COVID-19, is that pet owners report decreased levels of loneliness. Given all of the physical distancing going on right now, a pet might be exactly what the doctor ordered.
So if you do decide to foster an animal, here are a few things to take into consideration. Just like humans, every pet is different. The right foster animal will vary depending on your resources, level of expertise, and specific needs.
How much exercise does this pet need?
Dogs need daily walks; cats require a little less maintenance. Some breeds of dogs need more exercise than others. Depending on your overall fitness levels, as well as your time commitment, the right animal will vary.
How much space do I have?
If you live in a small apartment, a big dog might not be your best bet, and you might be better off going with a cat or small dog. If you have a big backyard, and can go for regular walks without needing to worry about crowds of people, a big dog might be perfect.
Do I have enough time?
For some of us, the answer is that we have too much time on our hands. For others, our time may be more limited. Pets take work, whether it’s cleaning the litter box, taking them for walks, or vacuuming loads of fur from the carpet every morning.
How much experience do I have?
Some animals will require training, while others might have a harder time adjusting to a new environment. If you are a seasoned pet owner, you might be able to take on a more challenging foster situation. If you aren’t, then you probably want to get an animal that is already trained, and has a more easy-going personality.
Next step: Call your local shelters
If you feel you are in a position to foster an animal, the next step is to look up your local shelters, whether it is your local SPCA or one of the many other pet shelters, and call them about fostering an animal. In addition to all of the practical concerns about caring for an animal, it’s also important to ask about an animal’s history, as well as their temperament.
Just be warned: There’s always the chance you’ll want to keep them forever. Not that that’s a bad thing.