One of the most important people that Animal Rescues and Shelters rely on are fosters. Just like people who foster Children, and Animal foster is there to take care of them for any number of reasons for the shelter. Dogs, Cats and Large Animals such as horses are often fostered out for behavioral reasons, such as under socialization, kennel stress or often in the case of dogs who have lost their owners, sheer loneliness.
For Small animals like Rabbits and Rodents foster homes are required for short term medical reasons, lack of space in the rescues and pregnancy.
As well as having my own Guinea Pigs (and 2 cats, hamster, 2 tanks of fish & 3 toads) I also foster Guinea Pigs on a short term basis for my Rescue. This can be anything for 2 days to 3 months. Some merely needed a place to stay, other required medical attention or close surveillance. I also over the summer, fostered 3 pregnant sows who produced 5 pups between them.
Looking after them was super rewarding, all three of the mothers were the result of people thinking they would be in for some quick money by breeding, when they realized they were not, they dumped the Guinea’s in a rescue, claiming there was no way they would be pregnant. All three of them had never been removed from contact with Males, and all most likely feel pregnant in their first heat at 4-6 weeks old. Although they can get pregnant that young, it is hardly advisable as they are still growing themselves. Two out of the three had difficult and stress full pregnancies, which caused one mother to lose her hair.
As is typical with young mother pregnancies in guinea pigs, all the babies were bigger than their Mothers by the time they were six weeks old. Two of the Mother Pig’s got to go to their new homes with their daughters, another with a group of other females, and the little boys went to their new home together.
In total i have fostered 33 guinea pigs in the last 12 months, and i would love to be able to write about all of them, but it would be very repetitive. People ask me how i can keep them, look after them and then just give them away. But i can safely say with all my other animals it wouldn’t be feasible (and also, my piggy, Blake was a foster that i kept) and also, once i’ve gone through the stress of caring for expectant Mama’s treating poked eyes, syringe feeding critically underweight animals, and barrier nursing 16 of them with ringworm! I’m pleased to see them healthy and happy and in their new homes.
I love seeing them leave, to a place where they will be loved and valued as individual creatures, and not mini money makers.
If there are any of you out there who have ever though you’d like to offer a bit of your home and heart to an animal (or child) even for the shortest time, then bite the bullet and do it! It’s something you will never regret.
top image from http://www.prettyfluffy.com