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Foster Care Agreements

The Humane Society of the United States

Foster Care Agreements

by: The Humane Society of the United States

It is very important to keep loved ones close during uncertain times such as disasters—including the four-legged members of our families. The coalition of organizations responding to disasters urge families and persons to work hard to keep pets with the family and to resist relinquishing these beloved family members to shelters. It’s important to make prior arrangements for your pets in case of emergencies. If at all possible, arrange for family or friends to care for your pet.

However, if during a disaster you are displaced and are not able to keep your pet with you, one option is to look for people, either friends, family or strangers who are willing to provide temporary care or fostering of your pet while you look for other arrangements. When leaving your pet with family, friends or kind strangers, you should have a foster care agreement. Having a written agreement will help protect your pet and provide you with the security of knowing your chosen caretaker has the legal right to care for your pet in your absence. The agreement should cover important issues such as what will happen to your pet if the temporary caregiver can no longer care for him, who is liable for any damage done by your pet, what will happen if you are unable to reclaim your pet, and what happens if the pet is injured or dies while in the temporary home.

In addition to the agreement, the following issues should be considered when leaving your pet with family, friends, or a generous stranger wishing to help:

If you are called for duty you’ll need to make arrangements for the care of your pet. If you will be leaving your pet in the care of family and friends, be sure to:

  • Make sure that your pet is up-to-date on all his vaccinations and provide your pet’s caretaker with veterinary records.
  • Outfit your pet with a collar and tag with the temporary caretaker’s contact information. Also make sure your pet is wearing a rabies tag or license as required by law in your community.
  • Leave contact information on how to reach your pet’s veterinarian. Arrange who will pay for routine and emergency care. Consider leaving your credit card information with set dollar limits with your veterinarian so your pet can receive emergency care if needed. Make arrangements for what should happen if the care exceeds the set dollar limit.
  • Provide money for food, toys, grooming, and other routine needs if you can.
  • Have your pet spayed or neutered. Spaying or neutering your pet will make him healthier and make things easier for his temporary caregiver. You don’t want your pet fathering unwanted litters or spraying furniture while in his temporary home.

Also be sure to complete a cat personality profile or a dog personality profile to help your temporary caregiver understand your pet’s needs.

If you are unable to arrange care for your pet and need assistance, contact your local animal shelter or breed-placement group. In addition, if you or your pet’s caregivers are having trouble affording veterinary care, food, or other supplies, please contact your local animal shelter to see if it has an assistance program.

Taking these simple steps will help ensure that your best friend is properly cared for while you’re away.

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