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By Cristopher Bautista, Communications & Social Media Intern
Meredith Snyder already owns two cats and two dogs at her home in northeastern Ohio. You would think that four animals running around the house is enough – but she also serves as a foster parent for unwanted pets from animal shelters, keeping them temporarily until they are able to find new, permanent homes.
For her, serving as a foster parent for pets is a frustrating, but rewarding experience.
"With each new foster, you never know what to expect," says Meredith. "A foster dog can drive you crazy. She might chew up a pair of your shoes. He might lift his leg and pee on your Christmas tree, which may have been his way of criticizing you for leaving it up throughout January. Fostering takes up extra time, money, and effort. It can be frustrating and it can be hard. But it's always rewarding."
But Meredith feels that it's all worth it, because it saves one more animal and gives them a chance for a better life. She has offered a transitory home for twenty-five dogs and cats since 2007.
"When you take a scared, shaking, lonely dog out of their cage at the pound and offer them, temporarily, your home, you know you are doing something wonderful. An animal's life has been saved and in return you receive all the kisses, love, and doggie smiles that pet has to give. You give them a warm home, and they warm your heart."
Meredith takes in foster pets through Paws and Prayers, an organization based in Akron, Ohio dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating unwanted animals and helping them find new homes. "My life has been forever changed through this organization," she says. "The commitment and hard work of all the dedicated volunteers is nothing short of amazing."
Overpopulation in cats and dogs and not enough resources has led to the euthanization of many unwanted animals. Six to eight million animals are placed in animal shelters every year and of that number, four million animals are euthanized, and only ten percent of animals received by animal shelters are spayed or neutered.
"Millions of homeless dogs and cats are put to sleep in shelters in our country every year," Meredith says. "I want to be a part of the effort to save as many of their lives as I can. These animals deserve good, loving homes. So many wonderful animals end up with nowhere to go due to human error, and I do not believe the animals should have to suffer because of our mistakes. The thought of animals being killed in those numbers hurts me to the core. I wish I could help them all."
Meredith encourages animal adoption from animal shelters, since animals from pet shops often come from puppy mills, places that emphasize reproducing as many animals as possible and keeping them in cramped conditions.
"It's also good to do research on the breed of animal you are interested in so you know exactly what to expect before you adopt," she says. "You can make an educated decision on what animal would be best for you."
Meredith understands not everyone may have the capacity or resources to take in a foster pet or adopt an animal -- however, there are countless other ways to help animals through volunteering.
"To anyone that wants to volunteer with an animal shelter, I would tell them to just go for it!" says Meredith. "Not everyone has the time to be a full fledged foster parent, and groups understand that. Other volunteer opportunities are always available. A volunteer can walk dogs, pet cats, or help with fundraisers. The possibilities are endless and there is always a need."