- A home for rats and other benevolent creatures


About fostering - the ideal pet solution for commitment-phobes

You - the student, the expatriate, the person here for only a short while - you are absolutely needed! Foster homes are for those animals who need a little extra help to get better (health, behaviour) prior to adoption, or find a home when their time at the shelter has run out. You may have the pet for a week or a month or a year, but you know the pet will be taken care of by you - and vice versa, after all, pets are friends! - until its forever home is found - and you get to enjoy the experience without any guilt over your inability to commit for life.

If you've never had rats, mice, gerbils, degus, hamsters, or guinea pigs before, this is a good way to see whether they are the pets for you - you will be well-supported by knowledgable people. With no other pets of the same species at home, you'll also provide a valuable service by operating as a quarantine facility.

One fosterer says:
I still find it so hard to believe sometimes that fostering for such short periods of time can make a difference, but the universe certainly is doing its best job of trying to convince me otherwise!

About surrendering - the right thing to do, done right

Shelters get more calls about surrendering animals than they do for adopting animals. No-kill shelters get even fewer adoptions because people know the animals are safe there. So some new protégés are denied an opportunity for this standard of shelter, because they don't have a high enough turnover. We only hope most pets get adopted directly from the shelter in these cases.

Even if a shelter had more adoptions than inquiries to surrender, they might still attempt to address any reasons why you want to give your animal up. This is education so avail yourself of it. The problem might not be the pet, but what you don't know.

Some volunteers - upon request - will send out an e-mail on your pet's behalf to networks they are familiar with, to try to find it a home. You need to do the same - research the pet forums and e-mail lists pertinent to your pet.

When a shelter is full, and you wish to find your pet (or a found pet) a new home through them, you must to foster it yourself until it is adopted. For the extra help, a donation to the shelter is warranted.

If you find a home for your pet before they do, you should still send the person to the shelter for screening. Otherwise you risk a less-than-ideal home for the pet, and they, for having advertised the pet, risk their reputation should the pet be handled in an unethical manner in the process.

In addition, while trying to rehome a pet, you are still responsible for any veterinary needs should your animal become sick. It is not a grey area - the pet is still in your care and you can't deny it what you wouldn't deny a human. Animals do not show sickness until they are truly sick, so do something!

Dear Jane,

Bianca and I want to thank you very much for introducing us to Pat and her entire family. We met on Saturday afternoon as planned, to hand over our four gerbils for adoption. We immediately felt we were with kind and responsible people and just knew the little girls would be loved and cared for properly. Thank you for your patience and guidance.

Warm Regards,

The Gutman Family

*When you take a pet to a pound or a kill shelter, put what is called a "Do Not Destroy" on its file, and leave a donation for its care! If the shelter refuses, do not leave your pet there. They simply need to improve their procedures.

If you get the call when they are ready to give you back your pet or else euthanize it, take the call and respond right away, or the pet will be euthanized shortly.

If you don't know what else to do, then take the animal to your own vet and euthanize it. Euthanasia is a heart-breaking job when the animal is healthy; when it has no alternative but a life of cruelty or capriciousness in the hands of anyone but its own family, it is better off getting sent off to the long sleep by its family. Be with your pet, don't just say goodbye and leave it in the vet's hands. This is your job. This is not heartless, guilt-inducing nonsense: This is the way it is. We have a moral obligation to care for our pets, and to take responsibility for them. And by "we," we mean you too.