Why should I foster?
Fostering animals is, simply put, saving lives. When you become a foster parent, you volunteer to keep a homeless pet in your home temporarily until they go to a forever home or can be taken into an animal shelter.
Fostering is best done through a local animal shelter or rescue group. Many shelters rely on foster homes to keep pets until they have room, and some rescue groups are run entirely through foster care. While most people choose to foster dogs or cats, there are also rescues for hamsters, rabbits, horses, and other animals.
Many people come up with excuses not to foster. They think they’re too busy, or they don’t want to get attached to an animal they’ll have to give up in a month or so. I believe that with a little preparation and that by working with the right organization, most people would make great foster parents. Here are eight reasons why you should consider becoming a foster parent.
- 1. Fostering increases an animal’s chance of getting adopted. Foster families are usually the first to find out about the pet’s personality. You may even be the first to teach your foster pet basic house manners, making them more appealing to potential adopters.
- 2. Your own pets will learn more social skills. The more animals your pets come in contact with, the better they are at dealing with stress and getting used to strangers. Your pet might even find a playmate in your foster pet.
- 3. You get to see if you’re ready to own another pet. Maybe you want to foster a certain dog breed to see if you’re ready to adopt one, or you want to see if adding a cat into your all-dog household will upset the balance. Or maybe you want a new pet now but aren’t sure where you’ll be in the next 5, 10, 15, or 20 years. Though fostering is not a trial adoption period for that pet, it can help you try out changes to your current “fur family.”
- 4. Fostering is temporary. Cats require minimal space and are very low-maintenance, so they don’t take a lot of time to look after. If you’ve already got a dog, it’s not a big change to add one more pup to your daily walks and potty break schedule. Knowing the foster animal will only be with you for a short time makes it easier to find the time to take care of them, and it also makes it easier to give them up when it’s time.
- 5. You probably already have the space for one more. A spare bedroom, office, or screen porch is the perfect place for a foster pet. Even a bathroom is enough room for a kitten or puppy, and it’s much larger than a cage in a shelter. Sometimes a spare room is the only thing standing between an animal and euthanasia in an animal control facility.
- 6. You can choose how to foster. Only want to foster bulldogs? Prefer to look after kittens? Can’t foster for more than a few months at a time? Most rescues can accommodate your requests, as long as you agree to it beforehand and give them plenty of notice about changes.
- 7. Fostering keeps animals out of shelters. As wonderful as animal shelters are, they can be stressful from the lack of quiet, training, and exercise. And there’s nothing like the love and warmth of a family! Animals in foster care tend to be less stressed, better socialized, and have a lower chance of getting sick than animals in shelters.
- 8. You are saving a life. You feel good, your shelter or rescue group helps more animals, and your foster pet is happy, healthy, and well-socialized. Talk about win-win-win!
How long am i expected to foster?
We prefer that you commit to fostering your animal until an adoptive home can be found. Unfortunately, we cannot predict how long this will take. It depends on the animal’s breed, age, temperament, and the time of year, as well as how proactive you are about marketing your foster animal and attending adoption events. If you can only foster for a specific period of time, please be certain to indicate this up front to the WC4P representative you are working with.
What if my foster needs to see a veterinarian?
As you signed in the Foster Agreement, vet care for foster animals must be provided by an approved WC4P vet. All vetting is paid for by WC4P, but only if you take the animal to our approved veterinarians.
If you take your foster animal to a vet other than an approved vet partner and have not received approval to do this, you will be responsible for paying the bill. With very limited funds, WC4P must utilize the partnerships we have whenever possible. This is very important, and non-negotiable.
The procedure: First, contact your WC4P representative to determine whether vetting is necessary. There are many ailments for which WC4P keeps treatment supplies on hand in our Med Shed (worms, kennel cough, coccidia, etc.). If a visit is deemed necessary, and it is a non-emergency issue, simply contact our vet partner to make an appointment. You are then responsible for taking the animal to the vet. If your schedule does not permit, please let your WC4P representative know promptly.
Can I name my foster animal?
In most cases, yes! Animals that were turned into a shelter, however, may have had their names for years. In that case, we recommend against giving them a new name or suggest you find a name similar to their existing one.
Do I have to provide supplies for my foster?
Since we are a small rescue, we ask our fosters to cover the basic supplies needed to care for their foster animal. Most people who decide to foster already have a pet or two so they are well equipped with supplies!
Can I take my foster animal hiking or to the lake?
Absolutely, but only after you get to know the dog and know that he/she will do well in that environment. NEVER take your dog off-leash unless you are in a fully fenced, secure area. Be aware, too, that some dogs like to climb or jump fences, so be sure to pay close attention the first time you take your foster dog off-leash.
You will be surprised at which dogs like to and can jump fences! Your foster dog should always have an ID tag with our contact information on it. This is vital. Putting your foster dog in a situation that could bring danger to him or others is something every foster needs to think carefully about.
What if I don’t like potential adopters?
WC4P feels that Foster volunteers should, as much as possible, make the decision regarding the home in which their foster animal gets permanently placed. We recognize that you have probably developed a close bond with your foster animal and want to make sure he/she gets only the best home. You will need to work closely with your adoption coordinator to determine if an adopter is suitable. Together, you will work as a team to determine adopter suitability for your foster animal.
Can I adopt my foster animal?
Yes, so long as we all feel it makes sense. But keep in mind that adopting your foster animal may mean that you can no longer foster. We’ll be sad to lose you! Think through the decision carefully so that you are not deciding to keep the animal solely because it is too difficult to let him/her go. The first few foster experiences can be difficult, as you’ll get attached and may have trouble letting go.
But remember, your role as a Foster person is invaluable! As an adopter you may only be able to save one animal’s life, but as a foster parent you have the potential to help dozens of animals. You will need to work with your HT contact person to discuss whether your adoption is truly in the best interest of your foster animal.