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If there isn't enough space in the shelter, this seems like a solution, doesn't it? What is this practice called, if it exists?

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The practice is known as fostering.

Animals aren't fostered only for the purpose of making more room in shelters, although that is one of the reasons. There are other benefits to fostering as well, such as:

  • Being in a home rather than a shelter is less stressful, and can be really beneficial to any animal that gets particularly stressed in a shelter.
  • Animals with behavior problems or lack socialization can be introduced to a normal home and worked with by their foster guardian in order to make them more adoptable.
  • Animals that cannot yet be adopted due to needing to convalesce, or needing regular non-expert medical care, or nursing mothers, or babies too young to be adopted can receive better care as a foster.
  • Animals that have been accidentally separated from their owners, and are awaiting reunion with their owners. These animals have no need to be displayed for adoption, and so it's better to put them in a lower-stress environment if possible.
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    Some shelters will only release animals to foster organizations, as well. The foster setup is far less stressful for the animals, and the organizations are typically better equipped to get the animals into a good home. One of my own cats is from this type of shelter.
    – Allison C
    May 10 at 13:44

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