Q: What are the responsibilities of the foster parent versus the rescue group?
A: Foster homes provide love and shelter, while the rescue group pays for food, supplies and all medical expenses. A foster home is precious to a rescue group because the foster parent gets to know the animal's personality and helps the rescue group better match the pet with the perfect forever home. The foster parent must be able to transport the animal, when needed, to and from vet appointments and weekend adoption events. You can also help process adoption applications submitted for your animal or help with the home visits, if you choose. By doing so, you have the opportunity to get to know the prospective adopters for your foster animal. You will be able to see the interaction between the animal and the family and help with the adoption decision.
Q: How long will a foster dog or cat stay in my home?
A: The average time an animal is fostered is several weeks; however, it could be as little as a few days or as much as a few months. Foster animals get adopted at different rates depending on age, breed, gender and ability to get along with children and/or other animals. Although rescue groups prefer an animal remains in one foster home until a permanent home is found, they realize this is not always possible. Foster parents have the right to discontinue fostering at any time for any reason. Fostering help for days, weeks or months is needed and welcome!
Q: Why is fostering necessary?
A: CPAA and its member rescues rely on a foster network to provide temporary homes for rescued animals. Our animals are kept in foster homes until they are placed in permanent loving homes of their own. We currently have limited foster resources, so we often have to turn animals in need away because there is no one to foster them.
Q: What if I already have another pet(s)? What about children?
A: Many people with children and pets foster animals. The rescue group will gather as much information as possible on the background of its rescue animals and their ability to get along with children and other animals. You, of course, need to know your children and pets’ abilities to adjust to a visiting dog or cat.
Fostering an animal can save a life! Please help.
Q: What do I need to foster?
A: Personal Qualities: If you want to foster, you should consider yourself a compassionate, patient and committed person. You will also need to be flexible and to have a practical attitude. A good sense of humor can help too! These qualities will enable you to help a dog or cat recover from the trauma of being displaced and make a good adjustment to a new home.
Suitable Home: A fenced yard is great, but not necessary. If you rent a home, you need to have your landlord’s permission to have a dog or cat living with you, even on a temporary basis.
Equipment: Nada – everything can be supplied to you! Vet care, food, dishes, leash, collar, treats, toys and medications will be provided as needed. A crate is a convenient piece of equipment for foster animals and can be provided if needed. If you already have a pet bed, that’s great. If not, old blankets and towels make a comfortable place for your foster to sleep. You are welcome to supply equipment listed above, but not required to.
Time at Home: You should plan to spend at least two hours per day for care and exercise of the animal, and you should spend sufficient time getting to know the animal. You shouldn’t foster if you plan to be away on a trip soon after you take in a foster animal.
Experience: Past fostering experience is not required; however, some experience with animals is good to have. If you have experience with a particular breed, you may want to foster that breed. Providing some simple training or re-training of basic obedience is desirable; in some circumstances, attending a dog training class may be necessary. If you are a first-time foster parent, the rescue group will help you determine which animal would be best for your situation and provide you with information that will be useful to you.
Q: How do I prevent myself from becoming too attached?
A: A good idea is to never think of a foster animal as "yours". Instead, realize that each animal already belongs to someone else – the pet just hasn't found that person yet. The animal is staying with you until that special person is found to take the pet home. A great way to keep from getting too attached is to remember there is another animal that needs your help after this one goes home.
Q: What if I do get attached to the animal I foster?
A: While it is common to become attached to an animal you are fostering, we often remind ourselves that our main goal is to save the animal’s life. Without a foster home, that animal wouldn't get a second chance at life. Foster families very often keep in touch with the adoptive family to check on the animal's progress. It also makes many of us feel better to know that releasing our fosters to a new, loving home enables us to again take in and give a chance at life to another animal. Of course, if you absolutely cannot see yourself giving up the foster animal and can accommodate that animal in your home, adoption is a consideration.
Rescuing a Dog and Becoming a Foster Parent
By Stephanie Grossnickle
I had never heard of dog “rescue”. We had dogs all of our lives -- some came from shelters, others from breeders. So when my daughter told me she wanted to “rescue” a dog, I wasn’t sure just what she meant.
Searching Petfinder, becoming familiar with local rescue groups, attending adoptathons, reading and learning and meeting people dedicated to rescue work – all of these were new experiences for me that would have a huge impact on my and my family’s lives. We adopted a dog from Furry Friends Network, a local rescue group, and this was the start of a different road on my path through life.
After receiving e-mail messages from Furry Friends requesting help with fostering dogs, my family decided to foster a dog. What we learned about fostering is that the rescue group pays for all medical bills, food and supplies like leashes, bowls and toys, and provides support whenever you need it. In return, all that is required of you is to provide a loving home, shelter and teach good life skills to your foster dog or cat, while also taking him or her to adoption events and to the vet, when needed.
Through the years, our family has fostered many dogs and permanently adopted one of our foster dogs. All have one thing in common…an unaltered joy in life despite some tough circumstances. These dogs have brought more goodness to their humans than any measure of goodness we could give to them. Some of our former foster dogs have become therapy dogs. Some are doing therapy in their own homes, helping children overcome the sadness connected with parents’ divorce or gently cuddling close to kids with Downs’ Syndrome. Others are regular visitors in schools or nursing homes. It’s amazing the miracles a furry friend can manage to perform.
There are so many situations where dogs and cats need that one small chance – a chance to be rescued from a shelter or leave behind life on the streets, a chance to be released from a home that is not suitable or can no longer afford to keep them, a chance to escape cruelty, a chance to know love and affection, a chance to receive life-saving vet care, a chance to have a hopeful future.
I encourage you to consider fostering or adopting a dog or cat and embarking on this life-saving mission with me. By opening your heart and home to a dog or cat in need, whether on a temporary or permanent basis, you will find rewards beyond measure by saving an animal’s life.