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A dog meets a visitor at the Jefferson Parish animal shelter in Harvey in May 2021.  

This time of year is tough for shelter pets. The days are long and the walks are short — usually because the ground is hot and we are also very low on volunteers.

Lots of pets are also surrendered during the summer months, and with the kids out of school and folks on vacation, foot traffic to meet adoptable pets is low.

Kitten season is in full swing, and the number of pets of all ages needing homes is at an all-time high and rising daily. With limited kennels and so many animals in our area in need, now is a great time to consider fostering.

Shelters and rescues depend on fosters all year long to help save lives, and foster homes are always needed for cats and dogs of all ages, from babies to seniors. In the summer, the need is intensified. As such, June is designated as National Foster a Pet Month.

Fostering helps pets get adopted.

• The knowledge gained in a foster home about the pet increases his chances of being adopted.

• It helps the rescue/shelter learn about the dog’s personality. Foster families can help develop a personality description of the dog such as if he likes children, begs for food, is house trained, chases cats, has separation anxiety, knows basic commands, his energy level, etc.

• The animal gets to live in a home rather than in a shelter. Shelters can be chaotic, noisy and offer very limited one-on-one interaction. Exercise, training and socialization are also limited. Shelter dogs often display unwanted behaviors due to pent-up energy, frustration and boredom.

• It’s a way to help an animal in need without making a long-term commitment.

• If you are considering adopting a pet, it’s a good way to test the waters to see if you are ready to add a new family member permanently.

For rescues and shelters, foster homes are crucial to their existence. It frees up space in the shelter so more homeless animals can be helped. This is especially true for rescues that have limited space and resources. Kittens and puppies also do better in a home environment instead of the shelter while they are still young and getting their first rounds of vaccinations.

Fostering is a great option for someone who is not quite ready to commit to forever, but who has some time now and would like to help a pet in need. Fosters give animals the chance to experience a home environment and learn the ropes of being in a house, and this experience in turn makes them more adoptable. Most organizations will cover some or all of the expenses associated with fostering a pet. At ARNO, for example, the foster home provides food, love and kindness and the rescue provides all vet care and medications.

One of the things people tell me is that they are hesitant to foster because they would just keep the pet. I get it. I fostered once; three years later, Romeo is still here!

However, consider how much it helps the animal, even if you only have them short-term.

A fostered animal has a second chance to have a new life they may not otherwise have. The shelter environment is a stressful one for animals and a foster home provides a calm, loving atmosphere that will enable the animal to relax and let his true personality shine.

This allows the shelter or rescue to help this animal find the perfect fit in a home that matches his personality, energy level and overall needs.

Helping to socialize and nurture a homeless pet and seeing them flourish and get adopted will be one of the most rewarding experiences of a foster family's life. Some shelters and rescues also need temporary fosters for their populations in the event of a hurricane evacuation.

Contact your local animal shelter or rescue to inquire about their foster programs and needs.  


Saturday (June 24): Adoption event with Animal Rescue New Orleans from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Petco (3520 Veterans Blvd., Metairie). Meet adorable dogs and puppies. Applications to foster or adopt will be available. For more info:

Saturday (June 24): Dog and Cat PetSmart Adoption Event, hosted by Rolling River Rescue every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at PetSmart in Elmwood (1000 S Clearview Parkway, No. 105, Harahan). Meet adoptable dogs from Rolling River Rescue, Greta's Ark Animal Rescue and Take Paws Rescue, and adoptable cats through the Spaymart Kitten Foster Program. Donations of gently used items, food and monetary donations for foster and medical costs will also be accepted during the event. For more information, email

Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer manager of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For more info on ARNO, visit

Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator for Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO), a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For topic suggestions, email or for more info on ARNO, visit