We, at ‘Til The Cows Come Home, are so proud of our innovative and unique farmed animal foster care program. We believe that establishing a foster care-based system to rehome farmed animals has enabled us to help many more animals than we ever imagined, and has contributed to our zero-euthanasia rate.
Today in our blog we are discussing why we decided to use a comprehensive foster program with in-built holding stations instead of creating a shelter or pound, which is commonly used for homeless dogs and cats.
We acknowledge that animal shelters are doing their best to help homeless animals. However, we decided that for ‘Til The Cows Come Home a shelter was not the best option for us. Firstly, building a shelter would consume large donor funding while limiting us to one location instead of being able to help and rehome farmed animals Australia wide, right nearby our farmers and adopters. Many farmers surrender to us bi weekly, so we need to be able to take minimum time to get there for both the farmers and the animals. Secondly, our foster care program has been cost efficient compared to a shelter which means we can help more animals with donations than we otherwise could have. Thirdly and most importantly, we believe that a shelter is no place for animals to live as they do not meet an animal’s basic needs. If you think about it a shelter is a replica of a prison, built for animals; the animals in shelters do not have round the clock access to sunshine, nor are they free to meet their own needs such as outdoor toileting and exercise so it is a hazard to their mental health and well-being. They are confined to 4 walls where they wait to be rehomed with minimal social interaction from humans or other animals. In our foster homes, animals are able to have their personalities shine for our foster carers to be able to best match them with their adopters.
We believe in the importance of respecting and acknowledging that all animals have feelings, needs and wants. Therefore, just as you wouldn’t like to be confined to a cage, nor does an animal. Following this principle, our founder, Donna Wild, knew that there was an alternative solution to the shelter system, a solution that would ensure the animals could have a natural life and connection to nature from their start, middle and end journey with us while they wait for their furever homes. It is this reasoning that was a big factor for Donna deciding to use a foster care program to help animals in need.
We have foster homes set up across Australia, specifically, we currently have 14 foster homes across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Perth. All of our foster homes are run by our volunteers on their rural properties. For each of our foster carers, we work with them to turn an area of their property into a holding station. The holding station ensures that each of our volunteer foster carers has the appropriate infrastructure for the animals in their care to be able to heal and thrive during their short stay with them in preparation for adoption. The foster carer program is so effective as the turnaround for animals in their care until the animals are adopted is on average 2-22 days. This means that we are continuously able to help more and more farmed animals every day. The foster care program also grants us flexibility in that any animal that isn’t adopted within that average range we keep until they are adopted. If you are wanting to find out more on our foster care program please click the following link to access our Foster Care Guide: https://tilthecowscomehome.org/til-the-cows-come-home-foster-care-guide/
A major benefit of our foster care program is that it allows us to provide all the basic emotional and physical needs for animals, (neither less important than the other) that shelters generally do not have the capabilities to do. For example, we don’t allow the calves in our care to be adopted until they are 2 weeks old. The rationale behind this policy is that it enables our volunteers to manage and assess all the early-stage dangers that may form from the calves being taken off their mother’s too young, which is an unavoidable reality in the dairy industry. Another example is that to ensure the animal’s emotional needs we make sure all animals are paired with a companion and where possible even kept with the companions they were surrendered with.
It is for all these reasons we decided to use a comprehensive foster care program over a shelter. We are very happy with this decision as we believe it gives the animals the best start on their new journey.
We are always looking for new like-minded foster carers, if you are interested send us a Facebook personal message today.
By Luella Botteon and Donna Wild.