Why are Foster Parents Needed?
Temporary foster families are needed for a variety of reasons. The three most common reasons are:
Limited shelter space - The number of animals received at a shelter is sometimes overwhelming and adequate housing is not available. Foster homes provide shelters with an additional option until a space becomes available. ''' Treatment and care after an illness or injury''' - Foster parents provide sick and injured animals with the additional time, medication, and space they need to recover. This may include time to recover from emotional, fear, or stress based situations that the animal may have encountered in the past.
Extremely young animals - Young animals, such as kittens and puppies, which are not yet weaned, require special attention. Unweaned orphans require a serious commitment since they have special needs such as diet and frequent feeding schedules. One of the greatest rewards of nurturing these young animals is knowing that you are giving them a great start in life.
Without the additional time and care provided by temporary foster families, many of the animals that fall into the above three categories would be euthanized.
What is involved?
The purpose of foster care is to allow a dog or cat to live in a home environment while awaiting permanent placement, permitting the foster family to evaluate the pet and to work with the pet to reincorporate them back into a home environment. The exposure the pet gets from being treated as "one of the family" (walks, outings, etc...) often speeds up the adoption process.
Our affiliated rescue groups carefully match up foster animals with foster parents based on what works for your household. Some people choose to foster only cats. Some prefer only dogs. Many have no preference and are willing to help when needed. The rescued animal is kept in private foster care for as long as it takes for a new "forever home" to be found. Some are adopted in a couple of days, some weeks, others take many months. Sure it's hard to say goodbye when a foster animal finds the perfect home, but it's the most wonderful feeling to know you helped save its life and create a bright future.
Fostering a rescued animal is often quite different than bringing home a brand new puppy or kitten. Sometimes the rescued animals come from great homes where they have received lots of love, but for one reason or another, the family cannot keep them. Sometimes the animal has been a stray its whole life, living on the streets and picked up by animal control. Some were dumped in rural area and left to fend for themselves . Every animal is different. (Please note, aggressive animals are not placed in foster care.)
When you foster a rescued animal, there will be a period of adjustment for both human and pet. Lots of understanding, patience and quiet time may be in order for family members. Most of the animals are frightened and need some training. Many need to learn to trust humans again. Many have emotional scars. All of them need a lot of tender loving care.
Fostering a rescued animal could quite possibly be the most rewarding thing you have ever done!
How do you prepare for a foster animal?
If you decide to foster an animal, you will receive specific information and instructions from the rescue group you are working with, but the following are some very basic fostering tips to help you prepare:
Family Preparation - Younger children should be introduced slowly to determine the compatibility with the new foster animal. It is recommended that an adult supervise all interactions between foster animals and young children. An important thing to prepare your family for is that fostering is temporary. Unless a foster family is fostering to see how a new pet will fit into their family, the foster animal will be leaving. Carefully preparing the areas that the foster animal will have access to can help reduce the potential for damage or destruction to your home.
Time and Space - If you have a family pet, it is recommended that you separate the living quarters of your pet and your new foster animal. This separation allows you time to observe your foster animal for any possible health or behavior issues. Additionally, it allows your new foster time to adjust to you and your family before meeting your pet. Time should be set aside to socialize and care for your new foster animal.
Supplies - Initial supplies should include the appropriate type of food, toys, housing space, newspapers, litter box and litter (if needed), and food and water bowls. Please make sure to find out from the rescue group you are working with if there are any special supply needs or instructions that your foster animal needs.
Emergency Contacts - Make sure that you have the rescue group's telephone number and an emergency veterinarian telephone number handy at all times.
Foster homes provide shelters with the valuable option of temporary homes to care for their animals. They bridge the gap and offer the crucial extra time and space needed to be able to prepare a shelter animal to be adopted into a forever home. FOSTERING saves lives!!
YOUR ROLE AS A FOSTER FAMILY
The main responsibility of the foster is to provide a safe, secure, stable environment and, most importantly, the love needed to nurture the dog or cat back to his/her happy, healthy self.
Some dogs or cats may require special care, such as increasing weight or strength, socializing, building trust, exercise, and fun. Some pets just require YOU. Through fostering, these animals come to understand that the safest place in the world is in the arms of their caretakers. The length of commitment is up to you.
By taking ONE needy rescue into your home, you are making the difference between life and death. Your commitment creates a space for us to take another dog or cat out of the shelter and save another life.
Basic foster family responsibilities:
- Provide temporary shelter and care for a dog or cat.
- Transport the dog/cat to vet appointments as scheduled (when/if necessary).
- Observe your foster dog or cat and relay any helpful information about the animal to help rescue groups match them up with the ideal permanent home.
- Some foster parents choose to bring their dog/cat to adoption events and talk to potential adopters about their foster pet to assist in the adoption process.
Rescue group responsibilities to the foster families:
While all rescue groups operate differently, they all make finding your foster dog/cat a qualified permanent home their first priority. Most will provide the dog/cat with the necessary medical care. As soon as they're rescued, they assess their health, and provide whatever care is needed. Ask the group you are working with to provide the specifics of what resources they will be providing you.
THE POSSIBILITY OF ADOPTION
It happens. Sometimes, you fall in love with this precious dog or cat that you've been caring for. As the foster family, you usually will have the first option to permanently adopt. For many potential adopters, they also have the option of fostering their intended dog first, which is a great way for someone (or a family) to experience the dog in their home environment, before committing to 15 years! It's important to note however, that most of our foster families are primarily interested in helping us save more lives, not adopting. They love to care for many different dogs and cats and see them move on to wonderful new homes of their own, so that Paws for Consideration can then go out and save another life!