As the holidays are upon us, we often think about those who may be less fortunate, out in the cold, need a warm meal or just a little help. Many people “adopt a family” through their church or a charitable group, providing the family with some basics and much-needed help.
It’s also important to consider this for animals. If you have the chance or means, please consider fostering a dog. Many pets have been relocated because of the floods and hurricanes we experienced earlier in the year and now find themselves in shelters through no fault of their own. This is particularly true for senior dogs who are less desirable than puppies. Rescue groups are in desperate need of foster parents who can provide temporary homes until a “forever” home can be located.
Why Are Fosters Needed?
Foster parents are needed for many reasons. The shelter may be full or a puppy may be too young to be adopted and needs a safe place to stay until he or she is old enough to go to a forever home. Or a dog may be trying to recuperate from an injury or illness and need a safe place to recuperate. Fostering a dog may buy him some much needed time to be ready for adoption.
What Does Fostering Entail?
First, let’s talk about what fostering a dog entails.
Shelter. You will be asked to welcome a dog into your home until a permanent home can be found for him. Preferably, you’ve had a dog before and know what the job will entail. You need to have a safe and healthy environment for the dog to thrive. A dog that comes from a foster home is often better adjusted and finds the adjustment to a new home easier when they come from a loving foster home.
House Training. Whether you are fostering a puppy or an older dog, dogs that are house trained have an easier time of being adopted. Housebreaking a dog requires time and patience but no matter the age it can be done!
Basic training. If you can teach the dog a few basic commands – sit stay and come — he’ll be miles ahead of most dogs that prospective adopters see in shelters.
Issues. Every foster dog may have its quirks (but so can your own) such as an irrational fear of vacuum cleaners! If the dog was abused, misbehaviors may be fear-based or your foster dog may not have lived indoors. It will take patience, routine and dedication to get him ready to assimilate into a new home.
Questions to ask when fostering
- Who pays for the costs of food, medicine, crates, etc? Some rescue groups have the financial resources to fund fostering, others do not.
- Who pays for the cost of veterinary care?
- Are other dogs allowed in your home? What about children? Not all dogs are good with small children.
- Can I choose which breed and or age to foster?
- How long will I have my foster?
- Can I foster more than one dog?
- Is there any training provided on being a foster?
- What does the rescue group or shelter do to provide permanent homes for foster dogs? Do they have public adoption events, social media or a website? Are you responsible for getting your foster dog to these events?
- Can foster parents adopt their pet? Conversely, what happens if a “forever” home can’t be found?
How do you become a foster parent?
Find a rescue group or shelter near you and contact them. They’ll likely have you fill out a foster application and, if you are approved, they will work with you to figure out the right foster dog for your household.
You will gain great satisfaction from saving a dog and handing him/her into the arms of a loving family. If you can’t foster or adopt a dog, please consider making a donation to your local shelter or rescue group in the name of your dog. Or take in a dog on weekends or a couple of times a week to give him a much-needed break from the shelter.
Fostering is one time when saying goodbye can have a happy ending.