To Foster or Not to Foster…

Fostering Pets / Monday, July 21st, 2014

Our rescue needs foster homes for cats and dogs.
We can’t save lives without YOU.

(Thank you Great Pyrenees Club of WPA rescue for sharing this!)

Group of cats and dogs

To Foster or Not to Foster…
that is the question.

 I think more people are able to foster than they themselves realize. Let’s address some myths, that tend to discourage people from taking on this noble, life-saving endeavor:

  1. I can’t afford it. Most rescues will help absorb the cost to foster. Vet bills, food, you name it. No rescue is looking for someone to lavish expensive toys and grooming on their fosters. If you can provide love and attention and some direction if they need training, likely your rescue will take care of the rest.
  2. I don’t think my other pets would like it. This rolls of the tongue very easily, yet have we really thought about it? Some people truly have dogs that are not great with other dogs, but more often than not, most dogs would happily welcome a temporary play mate. If you have cats, address the territory needs of your cats and you may do just fine introducing a temporary buddy.
  3. I don’t have the time. When people say this, I think it’s based on an assumption that fostering will require them to work with the rescue more than they have the time to do. Most rescues will do that leg work: they’ll post the dog’s story, talk him up, and get him exposure. Fosters aren’t expected to spend every weekend at events. And honestly, most rescues have a good application process which screens out bad owners and leaves you with “meet and greets” that are quality and don’t take up all your personal time.
  4. It will be too hard to let them go. Don’t be so sure. Not that you won’t love them deeply, but when you find the right match for them, letting them go will be so easy and rewarding. You anticipate that “next” foster with such excitement. If it feels wrong to give them up, it’s likely because you don’t support the family match presented. This is a good thing. When the match is right, you may miss them, but you know there is another life waiting around the corner.
  5. I don’t want to be scrutinized. A lot of people dread that process.. home visits, reference checks. As a private person, I can understand why this is daunting. With nothing to hide, it can be hard to put your life on display and feel like you need to be “approved”. The good news is, is that organizations do this one time. They don’t come to your house looking for reasons to say ‘no’. They want to be sure you are not a hoarder, don’t have a dangerous back yard, and want to be sure your current pets are well cared for and like your potential new foster. Don’t sweat it.
  6. I can’t trust a strange dog. I get it, you don’t know them. You don’t want to come home to destruction or a dog fight. Like adopting any dog.. puppy or adult.. there are ways to ensure they acclimate to your home and your family. You crate them while gone, and spend good quality time with them otherwise. An unknown dog isn’t like renting your room to someone who just got out of prison. They are dogs, and they understand limits and leadership.
  7. I don’t want to get stuck with a dog I don’t trust/like. You won’t. Rescues aren’t in the business of making bad foster matches. If you meet a potential foster and aren’t “feeling it”, say no. Tell them you would like to consider another foster instead. The rescue isn’t going to judge you for that.. they are so grateful to have you. Don’t feel like if you go down the road of fostering that you’ll be obligated to foster whatever dog they ‘throw at you’. It doesn’t work that way.
  8. I’ll feel bad if I have to give the foster back. Fostering is a commitment that you will provide optimal care and guidance while you have them. If it is not working, for any reason, talk to the rescue. People want reliable fosters, but not at the expense of it not being the right fit. If your other pets are just not loving it, or the dog is not a match for your family, the rescue shouldn’t hold that against you. Perhaps there is a better fit. And never, ever, let one foster match that wasn’t great put you off from fostering. I fostered a dog for 3 months. She was not a permanent match for my life due to her prey drive with my cats. I asked Dawn to switch me out with another dog who may need me more (a sick dog, etc).
  9. Fostering should be fun. Okay, I tricked you.. that is NOT a myth. Some dogs will need training, encouragement, love.. no dog comes “batteries included” unless you are very lucky. It should be fun. You should invite a dog into your home, see them blossom, and encourage great behavior. You help them find a forever home, and you are ready to help save the next life.

If you’re interested in becoming a pet foster family, please fill out the application here >>

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