Foster families facilitate the journey to adoption

Foster rescues help get animals out of shelters and allow organizations to learn more about an animal’s personality and needs to better match them to their forever homes.

Albert’s Dog Lounge Rescue, a volunteer-run dog rescue service based in Whitewater, has moved from what are known as “off-truck” adoptions – where animals are sometimes matched for adoption before they arrive in Wisconsin from transportation – to a model home host family first. Now all of Albert’s dogs go to a foster home in Wisconsin before being adopted.

“What’s most important to us is having really good information about each dog, because we take those dogs and put them in foster homes that have other dogs, children, cats and maybe other furry critters,” says Lindsey Decker, vice president of Albert.

Albert’s rescues approximately 500 dogs a year and the All Breed Rescue works with 60 foster homes. Decker says they are always looking for more foster families.

“It’s a great way for people to get involved in rescuing animals at risk of euthanasia while helping them continue and be adopted,” she says, adding that the rescue organization covers all costs of host families, including veterinary care, food and necessary equipment. “It’s a very short-term commitment if you’re not ready for your own pet just yet. There’s so much you can feel about adopting a foster family, and you’re really bridging the gap, literally, between a certain euthanasia and a forever home.

Lauren Brinkman, executive director of Underdog Pet Rescue, says her Madison-based animal rescue saw the biggest jump in foster home volunteers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they were able to retain most of them.

“We found that we went from about 200 foster homes to about 300 foster homes in a very short time, she says. “It was because people were at home, working remotely, or they were made redundant and they either wanted to adopt or adopt. Our biggest issue was actually the infrastructure to make sure we could support as many volunteers and adopters.

Did you know?

Most of the dogs transported and rescued in Madison are from southern states. Wisconsin has lower euthanasia rates than many southern states and has pledged to sterilize animals.

Wandering overpopulation and overcrowded facilities in the South have led many rescue organizations in Wisconsin to transport dogs and find them forever in the Midwest.

“Pet culture is different in the Southern states,” says Lindsey Decker, vice president of Albert’s Dog Lounge Rescue and owner of DogMa Home Boarding & Hiking. Albert’s rescues the majority of its Tennessee dogs.

“Pets are viewed more as property and less as pets,” Decker says. “Similarly, there are so many rural areas that access to veterinary care is limited. Or it’s not practical. And because of that, people don’t have their pets spayed. They don’t vaccinate their pets. So you see all these dogs, for example, carriers of heartworm. Or just litter after litter after litter of puppies.

Fort Atkinson-based Paddy’s Paws rescues dogs from Houston, Texas. Underdog Pet Rescue in Madison partners with low-income rural American communities that lack the resources to rehome animals. In 2021, Underdog transported 697 dogs from Alabama, 544 from Tennessee, and 274 from Oklahoma.

Find other rescues in the area here.