Animals needing re-homing fall into the following categories in my opinion:
- The animal is a stray, needing intervention because it is sick, or at risk. Examples: young kittens, animals at real risk of being culled.
- The animal is a pet, needing intervention because the owner can no longer take care of it well. Examples: the owner is moving to a smaller house or the owner’s pet is not living well in its current home.
- The animal is a stray, recently abandoned and unable to survive as a stray. Example: cats that are abandoned because they are pregnant.
Not all strays need to be re-homed. They may actually live better as strays. Assess carefully before intervening in any way.
Some humans who intervene and choose to re-home animals according to the above criteria tend to want to foster the animals till they are re-homed. But we cannot possibly foster all the animals that need intervention; cruel fact is, there are more disadvantaged and needy animals than there is space or resources. In fact, overloading this limited foster-space may very well detriment the welfare of each fostered animal. Just think of the really terribly sick and unwell animals you may have come across in some homes or shelters with too many animals. You cannot take care of all disadvantaged animals permanently.
An example is Hobbes, who suffered multiple problems as a stray cat – car accident, liver problem. Tried as we might, we could not find him a home. We had to release him back to his stray territory and monitor his condition. We still do. Likewise, Vietnam the dog. We could not keep him because of space constraint – no space at home (our cats), no space at Angels Pet Shop (he is too big). We have to monitor their conditions as strays, and had only released them when their well-being had improved. That is the best we can do for animals like Hobbes and Vietnam given our limitations.
Does this mean that Hobbes and Vietnam are lost causes, no longer needing re-homing? I think the way to determine so, is through a means like medic’s triage. If we are like a hospital, we cannot possibly ward every patient permanently. Some patients require swift attention and they can be saved for real. Some patients cannot be saved and we should not waste our resources on them (like Sayang’s father). Some patients will do well with some short-term care but are able to do well if they are discharged, with continuous outpatient treatment.
Vietnam and Hobbes are like our outpatients. They still deserve help. We just can’t ‘ward’ them permanently.
I feel bad that we cannot keep fostering animals like Nam and Hobbes till we can re-home them. But the truth is, as ‘outpatients’ we still have their ‘medical records’ ‘on file’ and we still have ‘consultations’ with them. Anyone who wants to visit them, possibly even adopt them – they are still alive and around, just as ‘outpatients’. We monitor their conditions whether or not they will ever be re-homed. Is that cruel of us now, that we cannot foster them for long?
For those of you out there who also do animal rescue work, I am sure you will encounter similar scenarios. To be honest, I am disheartened that I cannot do more for animals that should be re-homed but cannot be fostered permanently. I am even more disheartened when people reject helping animals like Vietnam simply because he is now just another construction site dog.
But I guess this is the reality.