Save a LIfe…
While shelters and rescue facilities would like to house every homeless pet, this is often impractical and impossible due to a lack of resources or space. People who are willing to open their home to a shelter pet in need can save dogs that would otherwise be euthanized. Many homeless pets grew up in homes where they were well-loved family members. For whatever reason, these dogs find themselves homeless and alone. It is scary and stressful for them to go to a place where strange dogs, people, sights and sounds surround them. Their stress is often manifested in the form of unwanted or self-destructive behaviors.
Home life is Better…
Foster homes are a great solution for dogs with kennel stress or other special needs. Pregnant females, young puppies, and senior dogs are especially vulnerable to the shelter environment. The more families that are willing to provide a foster home for dogs, the more dogs that rescuers can pull from kill shelters and the better the outcomes of pet adoptions.
Dogs who are fostered in a home are more likely to show their true personality, allowing a better match with a family. A dog that is fearful and shy in a loud shelter may be more outgoing and friendly in a home environment. A dog that jumps at the front of his kennel every time a person passes may have great manners at home. (Or the dog may really be a jumper who needs some consistent training.)
Look Before You Leap…
For the experience to turn out well for the foster parent, the rescue organization and the dog, it’s crucial that all parties are clear about their expectations and responsibilities. First, check petfinder.com to find rescues near you, contact them and carefully evaluate their application process.
Once you have decided to apply, know your limits. Does your homeowners insurance or city have any breed restrictions? Do you require a foster dog that is safe around small children or animals? With what kind of behavior problems are you comfortable dealing? Don’t accept a foster with behavior problems beyond your experience and knowledge, unless you are willing to consult with a qualified trainer. What kind of health problems are you willing to deal with?
If you already have a pet, fosters could carry communicable diseases into your home. Talk to your vet about recommended quarantine periods to keep your own pets safe. Be sure you have the time, space and resources you need to devote to a foster pet while giving your own pets the attention and care they need.
Before your first foster dog comes to your home…
Ask the rescue group or shelter about the dog before you sign up to foster. How did he come to be and how long has he been in need of fostering? Does he have any medical concerns? Has he been neutered (or spayed, if the dog is female)? If not, when will he be? Does he have any behavioral issues or concerns? Do you know how he is with kids, cats, dogs and/or strangers? Do you know how he does when left alone? Is he crate trained? Is he housetrained?
Also ask about the fostering process. How long will I be expected to foster this dog? What happens if I can no longer care for the dog? Who pays for medical bills if they arise? What should I do if there’s an emergency? Who is responsible for communicating with potential adopters, screening them and introducing the dog to them? Will I be required to bring him to adoption events and, if so, where/when? Will you provide food, supplies, medications, etc., or will I be expected to? If I have a problem, whom can I contact?
Expect the Unexpected…
To be a successful foster parent, you will need a compassionate nature, the cooperation of your family or roommates, flexibility, and some knowledge of animal behavior. Even the best-prepared foster parent should expect the unexpected. A mature, adult dog may revert to puppy-like behaviors. Anticipate that accidents may happen and shoes may get chewed!
Remember, you are not only giving your foster a place to stay, but you are helping to make him more adoptable, so training refreshers may be in order. The length of time a foster pet may stay in your home varies with the animal’s situation. But it’s so worth it. Generally, you agree to foster a dog until they are placed in a forever home. Sometimes, the rescue may move fosters around to give them different experiences. They may ask you to swap one foster for another.
Saying goodbye with tears and smiles…
It can be very difficult to let go once you have become emotionally attached to an animal! You may be sad when first foster pet is adopted. Yet it’s a happy day in the dog’s life and an exciting, satisfying accomplishment for you.
Remember, because of YOUR care, the foster pet is ready to move in with a family of his own!
Foster Failure (adoption win!)…
A Foster Failure is a loving foster parent who decided they just couldn’t part ways with their temporary pet so decided to adopt. This means you made your home a forever home rather than a foster home.
In this situation, everyone wins!
CNL Loves Its Fosters…
Cold Nose Lodge has been fostering dogs for years. We work with a variety of rescue groups, including:
SOS Beagle Rescue www.sosbeagles.org
The Sanctuary at Haafsville www.thesanctuarypa.org
Mostly Muttz Rescue http://www.mostlymuttz.org/
Lu Lu’s Rescue www.lulusrescue.com