MU Sophomore Haley Coward spent her summer working at the Central Missouri Humane Society, witnessing first-had how stressful it could be for animals, watching a multitude of cats and dogs come through the doors, seeing them from the time they were dropped off as strays or relinquished to when they were adopted into new homes. What stood out most to her during her time there, though, was watching animals who were timid and anxious go to foster homes and return outgoing and sweet. Coward said this transformation was what convinced her to start fostering.
Agreeing to foster through the Central Missouri Humane Society meant Coward takes any pets that need extra care into her home. Associate Director Michelle Casey said these can include pets who have certain illnesses or behavioral issues that need to be resolved before they can be adopted as well as animals that are just generally stressed from the confines of shelter life.
“When they go into foster care... it gives [pets] a good chance to get into a home environment,” Casey said. “That way, we can evaluate them in the homes and we make proper suggestions for a new home and gauge how they are as far as things like, ‘are they potty trained?’ and things we may not know about them.”
Coward’s first fosters were two kittens named Mia and Milo who were too young to be adopted. Coward wound up adopting them after four months of fostering, since they tested positive for feline leukemia virus, making them more difficult to find homes for. However, Coward enjoyed her fostering experience and is planning on doing it again next year when she can move somewhere that allows more pets than her current three.
“Honestly, it’s a good experience,” Coward said. “The way my parents kind of thought of it was I’m trying to apply to vet school, so they’re like, ‘that’s something to show that you’re well rounded.’”
Second-year MU veterinary student Kelli Montgomery has been fostering pets for six months. She enjoys fostering because of how much she learns through hands-on work with the animals.
“I haven’t heard a single person regret [fostering],” Montgomery said. “And the staff at [Central Missouri Humane Society] is really good at helping you if you have any problems. They really make sure the animals fit with the foster homes and it’s something where it’s a mutually beneficial situation.”
Casey sees a lot of students who come into the shelter looking to foster in order to fill the void left by moving away from their family pets. The pets are temporary and the shelter takes care of all costs, making fostering a good option for students who want new animals but can not afford to take care of them, whether financially or commitment-wise, Montgomery said. Although the Central Missouri Humane Society does what they can to provide for the animals there, the extra love and care that comes from fostering can be a huge deal for these pets, particularly those who become stressed or anxious from shelter life. Casey said this is what makes the act of fostering so important.
“I have seen animals go from completely shut down and even acting aggressively to the sweetest things in the world as soon as they walk out of this door,” Casey said. “So you really are providing something that’s unmatched when you’re taking them into your home and providing that love and support. You’re really just changing lives for the better.”
Students interested in becoming fosters can go to Central Missouri Humane Society’s website, cmhspets.org, for applications and more information.
Edited by Alexandra Sharp | firstname.lastname@example.org