Fostering Companion Animals Part 1
June 16, 2016
A Guide to Fostering Companion Animals part 1
According to the ASPCA, an estimated 7.6 million companion animals enter shelters every year. Volunteer foster “parents” are vital to rescue groups that do not have physical shelters; the number of foster homes available greatly impacts how many companion animals can be rescued. Shelters need foster homes for injured, young and special needs pets that are not able to live at a shelter. Many foster pets are perfectly healthy, they just haven’t been matched yet with a forever home. Fostering companion animals is a fun, rewarding experience. There are so many ways to help and all help is welcome and appreciated.
There are several things to consider before you open your home to a foster pet – age, breed, species and duration of time that the foster will be in your care. Rescue groups usually have a variety of companion animals available with varying needs; some require longer term care while others may only need to be in foster care for a short time. It is important to keep in mind that the duration may vary and that a short term foster may turn into a long term foster. Caring for pregnant, nursing, or very young companion animals will likely require a long term commitment of at least a couple of months. Children can benefit immensely from fostering and can help provide care under the supervision of an adult.
If you have pets at home, how they will react is important to take into consideration. Lifestyle is another thing to consider before fostering. Are you able to take extra time out of your schedule for socialization of a foster animal? Is everyone in your home on board with having a foster pet? While some companion animals require more care than others, social interaction and socialization are crucial for all companion animals regardless of age.
PetFinder is a helpful resource for finding a rescue group or shelter, whether you are looking to adopt or volunteer. Petfinder also has a lot of helpful information regarding fostering and pet care. While most rescues and shelters provide medical care, food and supplies, it is imperative that you know what their expectations are. If your foster becomes ill at midnight on a Saturday, whom do you contact? Are you expected to cover the costs? It is also important to know what the return policy is in case a foster is not a good fit. If someone takes an interest in your foster, you may be the liaison representing the rescue; if someone is interested in meeting your foster, you may have to make arrangements for a meeting. You may also be required to attend adoption days usually hosted by local pet stores.
Fostering is highly rewarding and can help bridge the gap for homeless pets that may become invisible in a shelter situation. It can help shy pets become more social in a home environment and find the right fit for a forever home. Fostering also allows you to “test the waters” in caring for a pet and perhaps finding a pet that might work for you! I have fostered cats and dogs since I was in high school and have helped well over 50 pets of all ages. It continues to be very fulfilling.
Contributed by Heather Baldwin, CSR at Grand Avenue Veterinary Center