7 Reasons Why You Should Foster a Pet Over The Holidays · The Wildest

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7 Reasons Why You Should Foster a Pet Over the Holidays

It’s one of the best ways you can spend your time this season.

by Courtney Elliott
December 13, 2023
Cute dog playing with owner at stylish christmas tree.
Bogdan Sonjachnyj / Shutterstock

This time of year, every holiday song, movie, and family member is telling you to be “merry and bright.” But because we are realists with access to the news, it can often feel like the exact opposite. However, there is something you can do to cure the holiday blues and keep from playing Joni Mitchell on repeat like you’re Emma Thompson in Love Actually: foster a dog. Just picture cozying up by the fire, sipping hot cocoa, and having an adorable companion by your side to share in the warmth. 

As it can be for many humans, the holidays are the toughest time of the year for rescues and shelters, as well as the animals they care for. The Wildest spoke with Maria Reask at Badass Animal Rescue in Brooklyn about why you should foster this time of year. Here are seven reasons that will have you yearning for all the fuzzy feel-good vibes this season.

1. It provides relief to shelters and foster-based rescues.

For animal shelters and rescues, the holiday season is utter chaos, to put it lightly. Shelters are overcrowded and foster-based rescues, like Badass Animal Rescue, get hit especially hard when many of their go-to foster parents are out of town. Volunteering as a foster provides much-needed relief to these organizations that work endlessly to give animals a second chance.

“We’re a foster-based rescue — meaning we don’t have a physical shelter, so we depend on foster families to give our dogs in rescue a home until they are adopted,” Reask explains. “Many of our ‘full-time’ fosters travel out of town during the holidays, so we need ‘temp fosters’ to fill those gaps. This is the most difficult time of year for rescues, so if you’re staying in town and have the space and capacity to foster a rescue dog, we highly recommend doing so.” 

2. You get to experience the joy of pet parenting.

Whether you already have a pet of your own or are thinking about becoming a pet parent, fostering is a great way to experience the joys of caring for an animal. Plus, who wouldn’t benefit from an extra companion during the holidays? If you’re not sure you’d be a good fit, Badass Animal Rescue’s Foster FAQ is a great place to start. 

“If you can offer a rescue dog a safe environment to live in and understand the responsibilities that come along with fostering, chances are you are a good foster candidate,” Reask says.

If you’re ready to reap the rewards of pet parenting, fill out a foster application: That is typically the first official step in any fostering process.

3. You give a quiet, safe place to a pet in need.

Let’s face it: Being in a crowded shelter is like trying to find tranquility in the middle of a holiday shopping frenzy — not exactly the zen environment a dog needs. In a foster home, they get a break from the hustle and bustle, finding solace in a quiet, safe haven that’s tailor-made for their happiness. Shelters, despite the best intentions of dedicated volunteers, can sometimes be a bit like a revolving door, with different faces showing t the dogs from one meal to the next. But in your home, it’s a consistent dose of love and attention, creating the perfect environment for a pet to blossom into their best, most adoptable self.

4. You save lives.

Being a foster parent gives these animals a chance at life. Become the unsung hero in a heartwarming holiday story this year and create memories that will forever echo with the joyful barks of gratitude.

“We can only rescue as many dogs as we have fosters for,” Reask says. “Our foster parents directly help save the lives of deserving dogs by providing housing, lots of TLC, and training to prepare them for adoption.”

5. It increases a dog’s chances of adoption.

Research shows that dogs who live in foster homes are more likely to be adopted. It provides them with socialization opportunities that are crucial for their well-being, helping them become more adaptable, confident, and ready to embark on a lifelong journey of companionship. 

“It’s amazing and rewarding to see how dogs can grow from being timid and shy because of their past to being comfortable, relaxed, and thriving dogs because of their amazing foster parents,” Reask says.

One recent study shows that fostered animals have decreased stress and improved cardiovascular and mental health due to increased physical and emotional activity provided in their foster home.

6. You get to really know a dog’s personality and behavior.

Spending quality time with a dog during this festive season becomes the ultimate gift to shelters and rescues. It’s like unwrapping a box full of insights into their quirks, preferences, and lovable habits that may have remained hidden in the shelter setting. 

“As a foster-based rescue, we depend on foster families to give our rescue dogs the environment and structure they need to truly thrive and be the best dogs they can be,” Reask explains.

Your cozy holiday home provides the perfect backdrop for a dog to showcase their best behavior and charm potential adopters. You might just be the magic ingredient that helps them find their family.

7. You create long-lasting holiday memories.

Forget about another ugly holiday sweater, fostering lets you be the ultimate trendsetter in compassion. Who needs knitted snowmen when you can have a canine sidekick rocking around the Christmas tree with you?  

“Fostering a dog is one of the most rewarding experiences, so why not do it when rescues and shelters need it most?” Reask asks.

As we wrap up this heartwarming holiday tale (again, please watch how much you listen to “River” this holiday season), consider the joyous impact you can make by fostering a pet this holiday season. You’re not just creating a cozy haven for an animal in need; you’re contributing to a story of love, second chances, and wagging tails. 

Courtney Elliott with her French Bulldog, Gus.

Courtney Elliott

Courtney Elliott, a proud Cleveland native living in Manhattan, blends her decade of writing and editing expertise with her unshakable devotion as a pet parent to her French Bulldog, Gus. When she’s not at her desk, you’ll find her frolicking in Central Park or engrossed in a good book at a local coffee shop.

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