Temporarily housing a dog or cat is beneficial for the both the human and the four-legged friend.

By Karen Asp
June 30, 2020
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One of the benefits of people deciding to stay at home in the past few months is the increase in pet fosters and adoptions. Adding a new furry friend to your family isn't a decision to take lightly, fostering a dog or cat for a short time is an excellent chance to see if adopting is a good choice for you. Plus, not only is fostering a way for you to try out pet parenting, but it's also a wonderful thing for the dog or cat, as it prepares them for their lives in their future forever home. For those who are new to fostering, there are a few things you should think about before you head to the shelter and pick up one of the pets. Here's what to know if you're considering it.

Credit: Sergii Gnatiuk/Getty Images

Do Your Homework

Every shelter and rescue organization has its requirements for fostering; its staff or volunteers can explain them. But also talk with the organization's fosters about their experiences to learn things like the level of support offered. Your proximity might also make a difference, says Julie Castle, chief executive officer at Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah. Many shelters want you to live within an hour of the shelter, so you're on hand for medical care and/or visits with potential adopters. Be sure to confirm what expenses will be your responsibility. Many organizations provide the necessary food and supplies.

You Can Be Selective

All ages, breeds, and species need foster homes—kittens, puppies, adults, as well as seniors—so chances are you can find a good fit for your household. "Shelters and rescues don't want you to foster an animal you don't feel comfortable with," says Cara Achterberg, dog rescue advocate and author of Another Good Dog and One Hundred Dogs and Counting. Think about what type of animal would do best in your house, especially if you have young children and/or other pets. Consider variables like size, personality, and energy level. Also, talk to the shelter or organization about your daily schedule; some pets may require you to be home more often than others.

Ask About the What-ifs

How long the pet stays with you depends on the reason they need fostering; it can be anywhere from days to months. So ask about the time frame and have a thorough discussion with the shelter or rescue organization about situations that might arise. Start with: What if there's a medical issue? What if I need to go away? What if the animal winds up not fitting with our family or current pets?

How to Say Goodbye

Adopting out your foster pet can be emotionally difficult. But keep this in mind: "When you see the list of pets who need fosters, saying goodbye won't be as hard," Achterberg says. "I remind my kids that if we keep our current foster dog or cat, we can't help another."

Comments (1)

Anonymous
August 16, 2020
I fostered a litter of 3 kittens (2 boys and 1 girl ) when they were 5 weeks old. Two weeks in, one of the kittens developed sinus issues, due to a cold that all had been given meds right from the start. The shelter told me to wait and see and if he 'bottomed out' I should bring him back to the shelter. Right....I brought him to my vet that day and he was put on stronger meds and for a week, I fed this little one will a syringe every 2-4 hours because his sinuses would hurt when he would bend over the food dish to eat. He would sit there sitting there, wrapped in a tiny blanket and eat until he was full. He got much better and after three weeks I brought the 3 back to the shelter for their spay and neutering. I argued and reasoned with the shelter to let me adopt the 3 of them. They even lied to me and said the kittens had been adopted out already, to separate families. They should be adopted together...all 3 of them. Anyway....I'm not a fostering type of mom...I get too attached. It was my first and last time doing the fostering route. I recently adopted a new kitten...he's 11 weeks old now and plays with my pup and other kitties...including Annie, Ryelee and Baylee....that litter of 3 that I fostered EIGHT years ago. Yeah, they belonged together and I fought to adopt them.