Are you hosting a dog overnight that is on an animal rescue relay transport? It is an amazing thing you are doing and rescue transport coordinators are always looking for overnight fosters to give the animals a place to crash until the next morning. Here’s a few things to keep in mind though so your guests and you can enjoy their stay.
1) Play keep away
It’s often tempting when you’re hosting a rescue animal to introduce them to your own family pets. But for sure this is a bad idea. Remember that animals on a rescue relay transport are under special amounts of stress. They likely have recently been sprung from a shelter and have been handed off from one volunteer to the next all day only to arrive at your house this evening. That’s a lot of change to take on and meeting new potential friends could push them over the edge. You also have to be careful about cross-contamination since often these temporary guests may be more susceptible to infections and may be bringing in germs that your family pet isn’t used to. So it’s best to play keep away and find a segregated area of the house (i.e. laundry room) where the overnight guest can chillax on their own.
2) Accidents happen
Find an area of your home where it’s easier to clean up accidents. You certainly do not want to host your guest on your living room rug and then have something stain it permanently. As we mentioned in #1, these animals have had a stressful day and it’s not uncommon to have abnormal bowel movements. They may be nervous because they do not know you, do not recognize the smells as normal and may not realize that it’s not ok to go to the bathroom in the house. So know going in that you should prepare for this situation and find an area that you can line with plastic, or easily clean-up in the event something happens.
3) What goes down
Usually on a transport the volunteers are instructed to only provide water but no food or treats to the animals. This is because the motion sickness can creep up on the animal and what goes down, will come up. But when they get to their overnight hotel stay, the coordinator is usually looking for the overnighter to feed, water and possibly even medicate the guest. Always check with the TC to make sure you know what should and should not be provided. Remembering that what goes down could be coming back up, feed and water in small increments so that you avoid bloat which can be very deadly <<link to bloat description or site or something>>. Animals that are under stress may suck down water at an abnormal rate leading you to believe that they were just thirsty. Often times it’s not thirst, but stress and fear and if you are not monitoring them closely they could bring back up what they just ingested or worse. So monitor and provide things in small doses.
4) Mr. Clean
Prior to your guest’s arrival, it is a good idea to clean and sanitize the area where they’ll be bedding for the night. This includes wiping down hard surfaces and washing bedding, blankets or anything else that they may lay on. This is so that you do not unnecessarily expose your guest to bacteria or germs that they are not accustomed to. Their immune system could be weak from the stress and travel so they can sometimes pick up something that normally they’d be able to fight off. So help them out by cleaning prior to their arrival.
5) Do not disturb
You know how you are after a full day of traveling. You stumble into your hotel room and plop down on the bed. If you turn on the TV it’s usually at a low volume and you quickly end up dozing off. Animals that have been on transport are much the same. It’s been an exciting day for them and they’re often exhausted. Sure you want to welcome them and play with them and snuggle them, but keep it to a minimum so they can get rest and get the relaxation they need for their next day of travel.
6) Ready for takeoff
After a good night’s sleep your guest is probably ready to get going again. Make sure you check with the TC regarding feeding instructions in the morning. If they have another full day of travel ahead, the TC will likely want you to restrict food and just provide water to prevent issues along the route. Know that you’re not depriving your guest but rather helping prepare them for their journey.
Overnight fosters are always needed in rescue relay transport. And with these tips you can make sure your guests and you have a good night.