How to Be the Best Dog Foster Parent
Fostering a dog is one of many ways you can help improve the lives of homeless pets. Foster care for dogs basically requires patience, a compassionate nature, a flexible lifestyle, and some experience with and knowledge of dog behavior. Below are some general tips that may ease your transition into foster life with dogs.
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. In some cases, dogs who would otherwise be euthanized due to lack of space can be saved through caring people who are willing to open their home and hearts to a shelter pet in need.
Foster homes are a great solution for dogs with kennel stress or other special needs. Pregnant mothers, young puppies, and senior dogs may be more vulnerable to the shelter environment and need a quiet place to raise young, grow, and age peacefully until the right forever home can be found. If you choose to become a foster provider, you give these dogs a the environment and extra care they may need as they wait for their forever home.
How Do I Become A Foster Care Provider?
So you've decided you want to become a pet foster parent. Great! Providing foster care for dogs will certainly be a rewarding experience. Sending a successful foster to his forever home is bittersweet - you are saying goodbye to a friend, which can sometimes be hard, but you are also sending him on to the greatest adventure of his life - a place where he will be cherished and loved in a forever home!
The first step will be visiting www.petfinder.com to find an animal shelter or rescue group near you. If you have a favorite breed or are willing to branch out geographically, the site will be able to refer you to a number of breed-specific rescues. You can also find many other different adoption organizations who help senior, special needs, or different animal types.
When you've found an organization or pet who interests you, contact them requesting an application for fostering. Review the application carefully. If you have questions, ask! Who pays for the vet bills? Who is financially responsible for the dog's food, microchip, leashes, crate, etc.? Where will the dog be introduced to prospective adopters and what are your responsibilities? Are you responsible for training the dog and if so, to what level?
Some adoption groups may require foster parents with fenced-in yards. For certain dogs, a foster parent who is home all day may be required, or a home without cats or children.
The shelter or rescue group may require a veterinary reference and/or a printed application and one or more telephone or in-person interviews.
If You Already Have A Pet
Communicable diseases from the shelter environment could be carried into your own home. Talk to your vet about recommended quarantine periods for new foster pets, to keep your own pets safe!
Know Your Limits
Does your homeowners insurance or city have any breed or weight restrictions? Do you have time to devote to a foster pet while giving your own pets the attention and care they need?
What kind of behavior problems are you comfortable dealing with - counter surfing, pulling on leash, jumping when greeting, inappropriate elimination, separation anxiety, barking, reactivity? Don't accept a foster who may need help beyond your experience and knowledge, unless you are willing to consult with a qualified trainer.
What kind of health considerations might you be willing to accommodate? Providing medication? Incontinence? Digestive disorders? Special dietary needs?
Do you require a foster dog who is comfortable around small children or other animals?
Again, congratulations on your decision to start fostering. Let's review the steps:
- Check petfinder.com to find shelters and rescue groups near you.
- Contact the organization about their foster needs and for a foster application.
- Evaluate applications carefully
- Complete application process
- Bring home your foster dog
- Smile and cry at the same time when he finds his forever home
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 as often as possible!
Good luck, and happy fostering!
Read more about dog adoption, rescuing and fostering on Dogster.com.