A vital part of animal rescue is quality foster homes. However, most people aren’t aware of foster homes or what fostering an animal entails. Simply put, foster homes for animals are similar to those for children. You become the family of one who’s lost their way or faced danger in their life, and you help them get back on their feet.
Foster homes are families, couples or individuals that bring a rescued pet into their home and make it a part of their family during the animal’s stay in the rescue. Basically, you take care of the animals as if it were your own pet. You teach the animal, keep it safe and protected, familiarize it with family life and a “parent,” and watch the animal prosper. You also take it to the doctor when sick, talk to potential adopters about the animal, and you become it’s guardian.
When you decide to foster the animal, it comes into your home most often straight from the shelter. Sometimes they’re scared or just a bit shy, sometimes they aren’t feeling well, and sometimes they are overjoyed to be in a home vs. the cold floor of a shelter. Often they need good food, a bath and some medical treatment, a bit of comforting, and a lot of the time they need help learning about a crate and house training (learned simultaneously). Many also need assistance with basic training and sometimes social skills. Most importantly, they need love and patience. Once they have a clean bill of health and are emotionally ready, they are placed up for adoption, eventually finding their forever home when an approved adoption is completed.
As in most rescues, we cover pretty much “everything animal” and the animal is legally ours. The rescue takes care of the cost of the animal’s medical bills, heartworm and flea/tick medication, and whatever is needed for the dog. We also can provide a crate if the foster doesn’t have one. We just ask that you cover the dog food. If we can ever get food donations, however, that will change to us providing it for you. Naturally we can’t cover gas, water used, or things of that nature.
We are always here to help our fosters. We gladly assist with training, medical questions, behaviors, introductions between animals, etc. We work with you on what dog you decide to foster, making sure it is suitable with your family and other dogs or cats to the best of our ability (although obviously, we cannot guarantee everything). We help you decide the breed or gender that you prefer, and even size. We will sometimes say no if, through our experience, we’ve learned that a particular dog will not work in your household, even if you really want to help it – for example, two animals of the same gender that are dominant breeds. Safety comes first. Foster homes are extremely valuable to us – we can’t tell you how much we appreciate them and treasure their efforts. So, we are glad to work with you in all aspects and attempt to have everything run as smoothly as possible.
Fostering is a wonderful experience, but it also has its trials. Sometimes animals come in and they are perfect angels, never displaying any behaviors, fears, etc. Others require more work and tolerance. For example, puppies can be active, they can chew, and they can be harder to potty train. Some dogs are more difficult to house train in general (ex: small breeds). There are some that are more bullheaded and learn the ropes “slower” than others simply because they are independent and stubborn. Some breeds or mixes need more exercise, some are more vocal, and some dogs can be needy. For example, Bonnibelle screamed at the top of her lungs for the first few weeks when she was placed in her crate. While not fun for me at first, she now happily goes into it as soon as I say “kennel.” Some dogs don’t walk so well on a leash, and others may not ride in cars well. Some will push the envelope with your other dogs, and it’s possible that fights can happen, even with the best of foster parents (not a constant, nor even a definite, but sometimes it can take place). Some dogs have anxiety, some may hide out of fear, and some may want to eat everything in your home, requiring you to put all the shoes away and supervise their activity more often. These are things that take time and effort on the foster parent’s part. We make sure to stick with you all of the way, helping you in any way that we can. Note, however, that these behaviors aren’t always the case…I’ve had many, many come in that required very little or no effort at all because they were so well behaved. Just because they come from a shelter doesn’t mean they always require work. On the other hand, some do.
A sick or injured dog will require medication, baths, or frequent veterinary trips. They will require a bit more attention and need to be kept an eye on, just to make sure they are responding to treatment. Some puppies, if taken in as babies, will require constant monitoring and even bottle feeding (this is only taken in if the foster parent is 100% comfortable with the act and doesn’t mind losing sleep – most often best when the parent works at home or does not work). All animals will be spayed or neutered, and they’ll need flea/tick and heartworm preventative given monthly, no exception.
Perhaps this sounds overwhelming, but it’s really not a great deal different than taking in a new pet of your own. Sure, the medical treatments may require more, but what you’re doing is being a parent, the same way you are a parent to your own animals or to one that you bring in as a new buddy. So don’t let it scare you too much – you’re just being a doggy mom or dad. Unfortunately, one thing we can’t guarantee is how long the animal will stay with you. Sometimes it can be a short while, and at other times it can be an extended stay.
Now, there are times that if you can foster for a short while, let’s say two weeks, that can be a big help, as well.
Since we do a lot of Great Pyrenees in rescue, for us they are often ones in need of a foster home (although obviously we do more than just Pyrs). Daily, we’re seeing the numbers of Pyrs in shelters grow, and sadly we’re also watching them get euthanized since we have no room. They are such wonderful, wonderful characters with so much heart. It’s a breed that is easy to adore. They do have their idiosyncrasies, like not coming when called (therefore needing a fenced yard and to be on a leash when not in the fence), but they are a fantastic breed. They have so much love for their families and are kind animals. If you think you’d be interested in saving a life of a Great Pyrenees by fostering, please let us know.
We also love seniors, obviously, and often they stay in our sanctuary. However, some do get adopted. Special needs animals have a wide range of problems, be it fearful of people, sick like Maleah or Bonnibelle, or even have a handicap like China or Noelle. They, too, have both stayed in our sanctuary or been adopted. Despite, they all have hearts full of love and bring much joy to their foster families. If you’d like to make sure a senior or special needs dog has a safe place to land, as well as a person who loves them while given a second chance on life, be sure to let us know that, as well.
We ask that anyone interested in fostering please fill out our fostering application. We also ask for a home visit so that we can verify where our foster will be living, as well as learn more about you and your home so that we can suitably match you with your new foster dog. A vet reference is required, as well.
If you think you might want to consider fostering an animal and assisting in saving a life, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org . We are happy to answer any additional questions that you may have in reference to becoming a foster parent.
Think about it…you just might really enjoy being a “parent” again!