THE ISSUE: Animal Services needs foster parents.

OUR OPINION: Fostering a win-win for people and pets.

Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?

Although some would say no, it could be considered applicable in the case of fostering.

Maybe a slight reword is in order, however: Is it better to have loved and fostered an animal than to never have loved one at all?

Well, yes. We believe so.

Fostering — opening your heart and home — is a true show of compassion for a homeless animal. And Citrus County needs so much more of this kind of compassion.

Citrus County Animal Services, as well as nonprofit rescue groups, are in the throes of kitten season. Because the county has such a large population of feral cats and because many people don’t spay or neuter their animals, many felines end up at the shelter and rescue facilities.

Some are so very young and tiny — bottle babies, if you will. Others are slightly more mature, but still too young for adoption, and still others may be seniors needing their remaining short time in the comfort of a loving home.

All need care. All need love. And they can find this and thrive if there are enough foster homes.

Consider fostering a cat as a "networking" opportunity for the animal. You can introduce the pet to potential parents, and can enjoy being able to see your new furry friend again if you find someone in your social circle to be the adoptive parent.

Fostering time can be a chance for an animal to become socialized with humans, thus making it ultimately more adoptable. This time away from the segregation of a shelter life helps with that socialization.

Animals sometimes need a loving home environment in which to recuperate from being ill or — unfortunately — abused.

And it’s not just kittens and cats. Stray puppies and more mature dogs always need help, too.

Fostering doesn’t have to be a long-term, expensive investment. Animal Services will provide supplies and medical care for the fostered pets. They also need short-term fosters, even folks who might want to take a cooped-up pup out for a day of fun.

The unselfish people dedicated to fostering homeless animals generally undertake the commitment happily, even if they find it difficult to say goodbye.

The personal rewards of sharing love with a homeless animal far outweigh any short-term inconvenience.

Fosters understand the best end result is placing that furry friend with a good forever home.

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