Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Just because we love them doesn't they don't need homes too

Sometimes rescue is fun; you pick up a stray kitten off the street, watch him grow from a little sickly fuzzball into a Tazmanian devil of kitten craziness, and then adopt him out to people that will love and adore him for his whole love. Sometimes rescue is crazy; you drive 4 hours (each way) to do a home visit for a dog that is being fostered 4 hours in the other direction, and somehow find a way to get dog and people to meet. Oftentimes, rescue is just plain frustrating.

Some of our critters are harder to place than others. For example, kittens that we post on petfinder in the midst of kitten season. Very few people are inclined to wade through an adoption procedure when they can go onto craigslist.com or walk into a shelter and have a happy kitten within an hour. And anyway, just because WE think our kittens are special doesn't mean that they look any different than the 1000's of needy kittens rotting in shelters and crossing their fingers for adoption.

Every now and again, we get an email on these little guys; something about our kitten has caught someone's eye, and they email us to get more information. We're always in a flurry to get these people in to meet the kitten ASAP, dropping personal plans to make it home to meet a potential adopter. And oftentimes, they fall in love with the kitten, because, again, our kittens are awesome (and really, who can meet a kitten and NOT fall in love). We love them as a home, they love the kitten, the rest is just paperwork... Or not...

All to frequently, the next day we get THE email... it says something along the lines of, "I LOVED so-and-s0-cute-adorable-kitten that I met yesterday and would LOVE to adopt him... except then I got home and (insert name here: neighbor, co-worker, friend) called me about this sad little kitten that they found out in the rain. It needed a home, and since your kittens are happily in foster care, I figured it needed to be adopted more."

And so our kitten sits in foster care for days, weeks, months longer than it should. And yes, he is loved, adored, and taken care of, but every day he sits in our foster home is one more day that he misses out on being the center of someone's universe, one more day that he thinks he's in a home where he belongs when in fact he hasn't found it yet, one more day for his foster mom to fall in love and cry that much harder when he finally leaves. And more importantly, that's one more day that the foster home is full and has to say "no" to all the other kittens that she just doesn't have room to help. One more day that sick (and even healthy) kittens at the local shelter die because there were no foster homes open to take them.

This doesn't just happen with kittens, it happens with our dogs too. Just today we got an email from a woman who had been planning to meet one of our critters. The dog she had been interested in has been in rescue for a few years, just waiting to go to the right home. After speaking to this woman, we were ecstatic; FINALLY, our pup would at least have a chance at a real home. And then again, this morning, the email: Even though I think I would LOVE your dog, there is this other dog who needs it more...

And the dog that has sat in foster care for years sits a little longer. She's a special dog that needs a one in a million owner, but unfortunately, there are millions of dogs for that owner to choose from. The dog in a rescue group always loses to the abandoned dog on the side of the road, to the dog about to be euthanized by her owners, etc. And again, that dog spends yet another day in a foster home where she is not someone's baby, she is just one of many. And her foster mom falls more and more in love with a dog she can't keep. And her rescue group turns away multiple dogs that need medical care or special treatment every day, simply because they don't have room to foster one more.

And the hardest part is that we can't really be mad. We certainly can't tell someone that our critters need it more; there are ALWAYS animals that need it more than ours. We know our animals are lucky, and we have to be happy that some lucky creature was slated to die and didn't have to.

But at the same time, we cry when it happens. We cry for our foster pets and the families they could have had. We cry for ourselves and how much more we'll fall in love with this foster baby before he finds a home. And, mostly, we cry for the dogs and cats that we just don't have room to save.