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Paws-itively Montana: Foster a pet this summer with the Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter

June is National Foster a Pet Month
Adoptive cat at YVAS
Posted at 6:16 AM, Jun 23, 2024

BILLINGS — If you visit the Yellowstone Valley Animal Shelter (YVAS) this month, you might here a lot of meows and barks.

Adoptive cat at YVAS, 2
Adoptive cat at YVAS

June is National Foster a Pet Month, and at YVAS, there's quite an influx of animals.

April through October, or "kitten season," is the busiest time of year for animal shelters, with June being one of the busiest months.

"Definitely [during] the summer warming months, we see a spike, usually in puppies and kittens," says YVAS foster coordinator Katie Pauli.

Katie Pauli, Foster Coordinator
Katie Pauli, Foster Coordinator

Pauli understands that not everyone can commit to adoption, and even fostering a pet for one night can make a difference.

"Even if it doesn't work out, we are always here to help in any way we can," said Pauli.

Currently, over 120 pets are being fostered at the shelter and over 300 were fostered last year.

Alicia Cowen and her two sons, Flynn and Tucker, are frequent fosters, taking care of over 150 in the last four years.

Alicia Cowen with sons Flynn and Tucker
Alicia Cowen with sons Flynn and Tucker

"We have a dedicated foster room in our home. We remodeled a couple years ago and have a room specifically dedicated to our fosters," said Cowen.

Although the Cowens love to foster, they know returning the animals to the shelter can be difficult. Tucker and Flynn Cowen say it's the hardest part.

"It definitely can tug on your heartstrings quite a bit when they go back, and there's definitely some you get attached to more than others," says Alicia Cowen.

But even though it's hard, Pauli thinks it's certainly worth it.

"Fostering is one of the hardest things you'll ever do, but it's also one of the most rewarding," she said.

With about 20 different animals rescued every day, the fostering process is simple. Applications can be submitted through the YVAS website. Throughout the application process, different requests and needs can be submitted so your pet can best fit you. Then, Pauli will reach out for further details. Pauli says the overall process can take anywhere from one day to a couple weeks.

So, if you have extra space in your home or are just looking for a pet to love, the animal shelter has a pet for you.

Adoptive dog at YVAS
Adoptive dog at YVAS

"Seeing a kitten that comes in and is terrified of everything and four weeks later, is crawling on top of you, and is just so confident, it just really warms a place in your heart that you know you made a difference in an animal's life. For a lot of people, that's worth getting attached or moving on," said Pauli.