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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

What to Do When You Aren’t Quite Ready for a Pet

By India Blake

I have a wonderful German Shepard I adopted from an animal shelter when she was a pup. I named her Gypsy because she went through quite a journey before we met. When the volunteers at the rescue told me what they knew of her story, it broke my heart. The experience even inspired me to write a children’s book, Gypsy to the Rescue.

Adoption should be a solution to animal homelessness. Unfortunately, there are too many unwritten stories about animals that are rescued and then returned to shelters. Luckily, compassionate animal advocates manage most animal shelters and rescue centers. They give love to the pets they house—love that these animals may have never experienced. 

If your home is not ready for a pet, or you’re still on the fence about adding a new furry family member, there are plenty of other ways to support local animal shelters.


Shelters and rescue centers are always in need of foster homes for pets. There is no such thing as a perfect foster home and, of course, there are many things to consider before signing up for this type of responsibility. However, fostering gives a rescue animal the opportunity to get out of a cage and experience what life is like in a home, even a temporary one. If you have experience taking care of a pet, and your heart is open, fostering can make a huge difference for the animal, and potentially for your family as well.


If you are not ready to foster, consider transporting rescued animals to their foster homes. Transportation can be a limited resource for shelters and rescue centers. By providing a safe ride to a foster home, you are helping an animal to avoid indefinite placement in an overpopulated shelter. It may seem like a simple act of kindness but becoming an animal transporter can be a huge help.


Shelters and rescue centers are safe, controlled environments where kid volunteers can learn more about animals and how to take care of them. (Typically, there is an age requirement to volunteer with animals; so call and find out what it is.) Volunteering could include dog walking, animal socialization, or cleaning and kennel maintenance. 


Rescues and local shelters always welcome generous gifts of time, money, and/or resources. A few of the most common items that most shelters will accept are: towels, leashes, toys, brushes, beds, food and dishes, cleaning supplies, and newspapers. Most animal shelters even have Amazon wish lists so you can order what they need and have it shipped directly to their facilities.

By helping your local shelters, rescue centers, and foster families, you can play an integral part in providing a better life for innocent animals in need. Gypsy’s courage and ability to trust humans after all that she has been through is admirable and rare. Not every dog has as much fortitude as Gypsy, but all shelter and rescue dogs deserve the chance to find their happily-ever-after.  

For more information about adopting an animal, see or the

India Blake is an award-winning photographer, writer, and animal advocate. Her work includes Before the Curtain Goes Up, a photographic journey behind the scenes of small-town theaters, and Captured, which combines her two greatest loves, photography and poetry. Captured has earned the Indie Excellence Award, Reader’s Digest Critics’ Pick, and praise from Joy Williams, Joyce Carol Oates, and Kirkus Reviews. Gypsy to the Rescue is India’s first children’s book. Visit for more information.