Thinking About Fostering a Pet? Here's What You Need to Know
Temporarily housing a dog or cat is beneficial for the both the human and the four-legged friend.
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.
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."