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Animal Shelter Appreciation Week

nataliaking [Flickr]

If you are not sure you're really ready to adopt a pet, consider fostering one for your local shelter.  It helps the pet you foster, it helps the shelter, and it may help you decide if having a pet on a long-term basis is right for you!


In 1996, the Humane Society of the United States founded National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week, to be observed the first full week of November every year. That makes this week the 25th celebration of the contribution that animal shelters make to our communities.

Early this year, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, shelters were concerned about the effect that would have on homeless pets; many decided to recruit volunteers who would foster shelter animals in their homes, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. People who were staying at home rather than going to work signed up in record numbers to take in a dog or cat and care for it.

Because of that, many of those pets became more adoptable. They are accustomed to being around people, in a home environment. When the animals are returned to the shelter for adoption, the foster parent may provide some information about the pet’s personality, its routine, if it is housebroken, and even whether or not it is good with children.

Sometimes, pet fostering becomes what is called a “foster fail”. While we usually think of the term “fail” having a negative connotation, a “foster fail” is actually a positive thing. The person fostering the pet decides to adopt it for themselves, which means the animal that was a temporary resident now has a forever home.

But while the pandemic has led to unexpected pet adoptions, it has had a sad effect on some pets whose humans have encountered financial hardships. Pet owners who are unable to afford the expense of food and care for their furry friends, or who might be evicted, are surrendering them to animal shelters.

So this National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week, take a moment to be grateful for those dedicated shelter workers who are willing care for great pets that have nowhere else to go. And consider adopting one, to brighten your life and make room to give another animal a chance, when you’re speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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