Summer presents a challenge for animal rescue groups. Many more kittens, cats, puppies and dogs could be saved if you would consider opening your home to a local animal in need. Rescue groups can tailor the type of cat or dog you foster to your lifestyle.

How easy it is to let an adult cat into your home provide a litter box, food and love. Kittens can be more challenging, but so much fun.

Dogs often require more effort, but again, a dog that fits with your lifestyle is probably waiting for a temporary (and if you choose, permanent) home.

This sounds odd, but there is a need for foster homes that do not have a dog, as rescues often have a hard time finding a temporary home for a dog that does not get along with other dogs, but are wonderful with people and children.

Vacation homes that are available to take a dog for a few days to a couple of weeks while a foster family vacations, or travels to a funeral, or becomes ill are especially needed during the summer months.

Families that are willing to let a senior or hospice dog live out their lives being loved and cared for are, unfortunately, needed more than you would imagine. It breaks my heart when we take in a senior dog or one that is terminally ill because someone thinks they are too old, too much work, or often, too expensive to care for. The nice thing about our senior citizens is they are so easy to have around. Seeing their tail thump when you come home or settle down to watch TV beside them or give them a scratch on the chin is all it takes.

And for those of you who are young or young at heart, foster families for the wild ones young dogs from about 6 to 18 months who are acting like teenagers are always needed. They may know the rules, but just like your kids, have to test them. They need a lot of exercise and sometimes a physically fenced yard so they have some space to blow off steam.

My favorite, but they are in foster care tying up a family for a long time, are the undersocialized, often referred to as puppy mill or breeder dogs who need to be introduced to the world. Progress is measured in baby steps, but oh, how satisfying to see them progress and go to their forever family.

Rescue groups pay for everything vet care, food, flea/tick/heartworm prevention, vaccinations. Training and ongoing support is provided.

If you think you could help a local dog or cat in need there are a number of rescue groups here in St Marys County:

Golden Retriever Rescue of Southern Maryland

St. Marys Animal Welfare League

The Animal Relief Fund

Feral Cat Rescue

Second Hope

You could save a life.

Pat Johnson, Valley Lee