This is the fourth posting in a series of messages responding to the recommendations of the “No-Kill Equation”. The “No-Kill Equation” is comprised of ten commonsense, long-standing practices embraced and implemented by LA Animal Services with remarkable success.

This analysis compares the “No-Kill Equation” to LA’s programs and practices. Today’s message focuses on the fourth recommendation of the “No-Kill Equation,” which is Foster Care.

The Ten “No-Kill Equation” Recommendations are:
1. Feral Cat TNR Program
2. High Volume/Low-Cost Spay/Neuter
3. Rescue Groups
4. Foster Care
5. Comprehensive Adoption Program
6. Pet Retention
7. Medical and Behavioral Rehabilitation
8. Public Relations/Community Involvement
9. Volunteers
10. A Compassionate Director

The “No-Kill Equation” is in this font.

The analysis is in this black italic font.

IV. Foster Care
Foster care is crucial to No Kill. Without it, saving lives is compromised. It is a low cost, and often no cost, way of increasing a shelter’s capacity, improving public relations, increasing a shelter’s public image, rehabilitating sick and injured or behaviorally challenged animals, and saving lives.

At some point in time, nearly every animal shelter feels the pinch of not having enough space. A volunteer foster program can be an ideal low-cost way to greatly increase the number of lives a shelter can save while at the same time providing an opportunity for community members to volunteer. Not only does a foster program maximize the number of animals rescued, it allows an organization to care for animals who would be difficult to care for in a shelter environment—orphaned or feral kittens, sick or injured animals, or dogs needing one-on-one behavior rehabilitation. For animals who may need a break from the shelter environment, foster care provides a comfortable home setting that keeps animals happy and healthy.

Ed’s Analysis:  LA Animal Services has long sought the participation of volunteer foster care providers. Since 2006 it has actively recruited new caregivers and now has a network of more than 100 foster caregivers providing care to both adult animals and neonates. Most caregivers are recruited from the community while some are Department employees. Some of these caregivers also provide unique foster care for so-called evidence animals being held while animal abuse allegations are investigated and other legal proceedings are ongoing. The Department actively encourages more volunteers to join in providing these valuable services. As a result, in 2007 LA Animal Services’ foster program reduced the euthanasia rate for neonate kittens by sixty-two percent and hundreds of animals benefited from the foster care volunteers provide.

LA Animal Services regularly fosters the following types of animals: orphaned neonates, nursing mothers, ill and injured, unattractive, and under-socialized animals. An example of an “unattractive” animal is a severely matted dog that has been shaved. The animal may not have a healthy, shiny coat that attracts adopters until he’s spent a few weeks in a foster home. This will give the animal a much greater chance of being adopted. “Under-socialized” fosters include animals that may not adjust well to a shelter environment. They may just need the comforts of a home environment, with training or socialization. After some time in foster care, these animals are perfect candidates for off-site adoption events.

Department Foster Care Givers are provided hands on foster care training and support documents, dedicated staff to assist and/or answer questions in person or by phone and email, replacement milk, bottles, nipples, regular veterinary check ups, access to emergency veterinary services, home medication as needed, flea combs, etc.

LA Animal Services’ Evidence Animal Foster Program is an innovation not found in any other community we are aware of. Animal victims of cruelty can sometimes languish in animal shelters for months awaiting adjudication of their case. The Evidence Foster Program allows these animals to recover from their traumatic experience in the warmth of a loving family home.