Temporary pets teach responsibility

Rincon High School senior Seleyna Pelax pets a homeless bunny Sunday afternoon at the Foundation for Animals in Risk. The animals foster parents are asked to feed, love and care for those they house. They also have to be able to let them go when they are ready to be placed in a permanent home.

Rincon High School senior Seleyna Pelax pets a homeless bunny Sunday afternoon at the Foundation for Animals in Risk. The animals’ foster parents are asked to feed, love and care for those they house. They also have to be able to let them go when they are ready to be placed in a permanent home.

Amanda Morris

Students and community members provide short-term care for homeless pets through a local organization that aims to find homes for all homeless pets in Pima County, said the organization’s president.

Foundation for Animals In Risk is a local volunteer organization that rescues animals from shelters that may put down animals, such as Pima Animal Care, and places them in foster homes until they find a permanent home, said FAIR president Tammi Barrick.

FAIR also provides a solution for students who want to own pets but can’t commit to the long-term responsibility, Barrick said.

“”As a college student, it gives you the portability that when you have to leave college and you’re on your way somewhere else, you’re not leaving with an animal,”” Barrick said.

Most of the time, FAIR rescues cats and dogs, but they have had a horse and a goat in the past.

“”Often times animals there are sick (or) pregnant,”” Barrick said. “”We take those kinds of animals into our foster care, and then put them into adoptions centers once they are old enough.””

Foster parents are given all the tools they need to be a responsible temporary owner. FAIR provides the food, water bowls, medical care, leashes and litter boxes through donations, so there is no expense for the foster parent, Barrick said.

“”It is a great opportunity for students who would like to have their own pet but can’t afford the food or vet bills,”” said Samantha Benich, who has worked for FAIR for two years. “”The only things required of a foster parent are to transport their animal to the adoption site on the weekends and to love the animal as if it was their own.””

Volunteers take the foster animals to adoption sites at various locations in Tucson on Saturdays and Sundays in hopes that the animal will become adopted, Benich said.

Dan Crosswait, a mechanical engineering junior, said he recommends the program for students because it worked well with his schedule.

“”If we wanted animals, we would be able to have them, and if we were out of town, the organization was very understanding,”” Crosswait said.

Crosswait said he liked the experience of taking care of different animals but it was sometimes difficult.

“”It was hard letting them go, but we knew in the back of our minds that they weren’t going to be ours forever,”” Crosswait said.

Currently, there are 30 foster homes that take in animals, but FAIR is in need of more foster parents to decrease the nearly 40,000 animals that are killed by Pima County animal shelters each year, Barrick said.

The organization chooses its foster homes based on family members’ daily schedules, whether the home has a fenced yard and if the volunteers would feel emotionally all right to give up the animal when it is ready to be adopted, as well as other information, Barrick said.

The number of pets a foster home takes in is restricted to two adult dogs or a litter; FAIR tries not to put more than one litter in a home at a time because of cross contamination of diseases that could potentially spread between the litters, Barrick said.

All the animals that go through FAIR are spayed or neutered to help decrease the population and have up-to-date shots and microchips implanted so that if they are lost they can be returned to their owner, Barrick said.