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Internet shopping for a child

I love looking at websites with pets that are up for adoption and reading about their little personalities.

I love looking at websites with pets that are up for adoption and reading about their little personalities.

"Bessie is an active, goofy dog who has lots of energy (and love) to give! A behaviour counselling session with our adoption staff is necessary before adopting any animal to ensure success," says the BCSPCA.

Today, however, I have been looking at a different list that is eerily similar and yet of greater depth and societal consequence. The Ministry of Children and Family Development's adoption site has this to say about Brandon: "This cuddly, shy and sensitive little boy has an independent, rambunctious and dramatic side as well."

I am disturbed that there are Canadian children so in need of permanent homes that they are listed online with winning biographies. And yet, I realize it may be the best way to attract potential parents in our computer savvy culture.

Can you guess which of the next two quotes refers to a dog and which to a child?

"Austin is a sweet little guy waiting for his forever home. He is in need of a home with someone who is willing and able to care for him and take on his medical condition."

"Max will need ongoing consultation for his emotional difficulties. His forever family will need to provide extra supervision for Max and also help him with socialization skills."

Max is a little boy in foster care. Austin is at the Surrey SPCA.

October is foster family awareness month, and though it is heartbreaking to think about the more than 6,000 children in temporary homes across B.C., we must. These young people have suffered loss and/or abuse, and/or been exposed to drugs and alcohol prenatally and/or were born with developmental and/or physical disabilities that have set the odds against them. Yet, as I read several profiles of the 174 children who are eligible for adoption in B.C., most are hopeful and optimistic about who they are and what they want from life.

When I trained as a volunteer at the Winnipeg Humane Society, I was astonished to learn that the first Humane Societies were "a network of local organizations to prevent cruelty to children and animals."

Apparently, our western culture has associated children and animals as needing similar protection since the 1800s. It isn't just I making a crude correlation.

I have a passion for both children and animals, but at the end of the day, if we cannot provide permanent, loving homes for children first, then we need to re-evaluate our priorities. We need to step up and consider fostering or adopting children and teens in our homes so they may know they are valued and loved regardless of their rough beginnings. Without community involvement and support, how else will they grow into confident, creative, contributing and compassionate adults?

Fourteen-year-old Kelly "has dreams of being a veterinarian, and if her interest in animals is any indication, this would be a good direction for her. She currently has a cat named Rosie and a Shitzu dog, plus she does some dog walking for some elderly neighbours."

Kids like Kelly could be operating the animal shelters of tomorrow if given half a chance to actualize their potential. We need to make the time to care for them.