What You Need to Know Before Fostering a Pet

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Fostering a Pet

The U.S. Humane Society estimates that between 6 million and 8 million cats and dogs enter US animal shelters each year. This creates a demand for foster parents of animals that need special attention or socialization. Don’t jump into pet fostering without a good understanding of the job’s demands and requirements. If you decide to participate in a foster pet program, you’ll likely find it a heart warming experience.

Reasons for Fostering

According to PAWS, the primary reasons a pet needs to be fostered include:

  • the animal is too young to be adopted into a permanent home (usually less than 8 weeks for a dog or cat)
  • the animal is nursing a litter and needs a quieter environment than a shelter can offer
  • the animal has a medical condition that needs treatment before being adopted

Knowing Your Own Limits

PetSafe recommends that you understand your physical and emotional limits. It can be frustrating, for you, the pet, and the shelter, to begin the fostering process to discover mid-way that you can’t follow through.

Before fostering, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you have the dedicated space to foster an animal?
  2. Do you have enough time to foster?
  3. Do you have children that will take your attention from the foster pet?
  4. Will a job or other responsibilities take you away from the house for long periods?
  5. Do you have other pets that may be upset by having another animal in the house?
  6. Will you be able to give up the animal for adoption once the fostering time is over?
  7. Can you deal with the death of a sick or injured animal you’re fostering?
  8. Will the needs of an elderly pet be too much for you?

Understand your position on the questions above and discuss them with your foster program coordinator. The fostering organization can work with you to determine what type of animal you would be best suited to foster.

Tips for Fostering a Pet

  • You will need a separate room for the foster animal so they are isolated from your own pets, says Petfinder. You don’t want to risk a disease such worms or feline leukemia being transmitted to your pets.
  • If possible, try to dedicate a room without carpet, and remove curtains, furniture or other items that you don’t want to risk getting stained or damaged. Do not store cleaning products or any hazardous materials at a height that could be accessible by a foster pet.
  • Dogs need lots of exercise and regular walks. Cats will need one or more litter boxes. Ask the shelter if they prefer clumping or non-clumping litter. Reduce the need to change litter frequently with convenient devices such as a self-cleaning litter box at PetSafe.net.
  • Watch for any signs of distress or illness in your foster pet. Ask when you should call the vet directly and when you should bring the animal into the shelter for examination. Always keep emergency contact information handy just in case.
  • Fresh water is important for every animal. Use shallow dishes for puppies and kittens. Check and change the water frequently. The shelter will tell you what type of food and treats to feed the animal, as well as the required frequency.
  • Make your foster feel welcome by equipping its room with a plush bed and lots of toys since cats love to climb and dogs love to chew. Offer a variety of entertainment in the room to keep your foster pet occupied.
  • Lastly, show your foster lots of love while its in your care, and if possible, teach it tricks and manners that will help its chances of being adopted by a caring forever home.
January 25, 2014 |

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