Helping your local animal shelter and rescue organizations is a wonderful way to give back to your community. From volunteering and donating goods or services to adopting a pet, there are many ways to get involved. Fostering a pet is also an option and it comes with many benefits. From very young foster pets that need constant care to older pets that may need a loving, temporary home, or time to be reunited with an owner during a crisis, a little love goes a long way. Read on to find out how fostering a pet from your local animal shelter or rescue organization can be beneficial to you and your family, your shelter or rescue organization, pet owners in crisis, the pet(s) you foster, and other pets within your community.
Fostering Neonates and Young Kittens and Puppies
Fostering a young kitten or puppy can help save its life. Those between zero to eight weeks old are extremely vulnerable, needing round-the-clock care to keep them healthy and socialized until they’re old enough to be spayed or neutered and adopted to a forever home. Younger kittens and puppies may need to be bottle-fed, and your local animal shelter or rescue can teach you the ins and outs of this type of care. As they reach five and six weeks old, pets may require lots of playtime. If fostering young pets and preparing them for adoption seems like something you would enjoy, reach out to your local shelters or rescue organizations to learn about their foster programs and the commitment to becoming a foster volunteer.
Fostering Reduces Pet Overpopulation
Fostering cats and dogs of any age can be a huge help in reducing pet overpopulation. Those older than eight weeks are usually spayed or neutered prior to being placed in foster care, which helps prevent unwanted litters. Foster cats are also usually kept indoors, minimizing interactions with feral cats that may not be spayed, neutered or vaccinated.
Fostering Helps Other Pets
Fostering temporarily removes a pet that’s not yet ready for adoption from the shelter or rescue, freeing up space for other cats and dogs that are ready for adoption. Foster kittens and puppies may be too young for adoption, and adults may need attention to treatable medical conditions or house training before they’re ready to find a forever home. Fostering frees up space, time, and resources for the animal shelter to help more pets.
Foster Care for Pets of Owners in Crisis
Some foster programs assist caring pet owners faced with a life crisis who need to temporarily place their pet in foster care due to a natural disaster, home foreclosure, or an unexpected hospitalization. Fostering for owners in crisis is keeps pets and people together.
Fostering Prepares the Pet for a Forever Home
Living with a foster parent or family can be a great help to the pet as they await their forever home. They’ll get more love and attention in a home than they will in a shelter, and it exposes them to different environments, such as those with children and other pets. Growing comfortable in these loving home spaces prepares the pet for their forever home and increases their chances of successful adoption as the information a foster parent provides on a pet’s behavior and training needs can help ensure a compatible match.
Fostering Allows a Foster Parent to ‘Try On’ Pet Adoption
Fostering a pet has many benefits for the foster parent, too. Many foster parents use it as a way to determine if pet adoption is right for them. After all, foster parents do everything an adoptive parent would do, from feeding and playing with their pet to cleaning up after them and making sure they’re well taken care of. If it’s not for you long-term, that’s ok.
Fostering May Lead to a Forever Friend
While fostering may be temporary for many, falling in love with your foster pet is encouraged! If this is the case, you can decide to make your foster pet a permanent addition to your home. Talk with your animal shelter for more details about pet adoption when the time comes.
Whether you decide to foster a pet to see if long-term adoption is right for you and your family, or if you prefer repeat fostering to help a certain type of animal, such as preparing young kittens and puppies for their forever homes, reach out to your local animal shelter today. They’ll provide you with all the details on how to get started. Your local pets are counting on you.
Ready to Become a Foster Volunteer?
Check with shelters and rescue organizations in your area to learn the scope of their foster program and the level of commitment required for foster volunteers. Some shelter and rescue organizations can provide a high level of support for their foster volunteers, while others may have limited budgets and resources, requiring foster volunteers to take on a greater commitment.
Here are some thoughts to consider before you sign on to foster:
- How much time do you have to devote to a foster cat or dog? Kittens and puppies may need frequent feedings and more socialization than an adult cat or dog.
- For what length of time can you foster? Most shelters and rescues will require a minimum time commitment.
- Do you have room to isolate foster pet(s) from your existing dogs and cats? Make sure your pets are current on vaccines and ask the shelter or rescue what vaccines and dewormer medication they provide foster pets.
- In the case of a young dog, are you able to house train and provide behavior training?
- Ask if the shelter or rescue if they require foster volunteers to provide food, medications and veterinary care.
- Find out who to contact in the event your foster pet needs medical attention.
- Does the shelter or rescue encourage foster volunteers to help with adoption placements? Foster volunteers can often provide great information to potential adopters.
- Can you return a foster pet if it is not compatible with your pets or you are unable to continue providing care?