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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.
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:
Do you have the dedicated space to foster an animal?
Do you have enough time to foster?
Do you have children that will take your attention from the foster pet?
Will a job or other responsibilities take you away from the house for long periods?
Do you have other pets that may be upset by having another animal in the house?
Will you be able to give up the animal for adoption once the fostering time is over?
Can you deal with the death of a sick or injured animal you’re fostering?
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.
A checklist of consideration when thinking about adopting a dog.
Many people think that when they buy or rent a house with a big yard, “Well, now we need a dog!” but there are so many more important considerations than your yard size when adopting a dog. Here is a list of considerations when you feel the urge to add a dog to your family.
Can you commit? Dogs can live 15 years, and smaller breeds even longer. Where do you see yourself in the next 15 years? Regardless of whether or not you get married, have kids, retire and start traveling, move, lose your job, or get a divorce, are you willing to care for a dog through the process?
Is this the right time?There are many life situations that compel us to want a companion by our side, but these intense emotional times can be when we make irrational decisions that we might regret. In times of grief (loss of a pet or relative), times of transition (a new job or house), or when planning for transition (planning a wedding or trying to get pregnant) it’s better not to add the responsibility of caring for a dog.
Do you have the time?Do you have a stable routine that allows for daily walking, training, grooming and bonding? Dogs are social beings and having one in your family is like having another person in your house! You’ve got to be prepared to accommodate your new canine family member in all ways, incorporating them in your daily routine and putting their needs at the top of the list.
Are you willing to work through the issues?They say that dogs are “Man’s Best Friend” for a reason. It’s about relationships. Just like scouring Match.com, when looking for the perfect dog to add to the family, you might be slightly fooled by the initial profile. Sometimes it can take time before baggage shows up. Your new dog might have an aggression trigger that you could have never predicted, or develop a separation anxiety issue once bonded to you. Are you willing to take the time to work with a trainer, or do what ever it takes to keep your dog safe and happy?
Are you financially stable?In general, puppies, large dogs, and older dogs are more expensive to care for, but unforeseen expenses can happen with any dog. Are you capable of covering a vet bill, or damages to your house (accidents do and will happen!), and to adding the regular maintenance fees to your budget (food, vaccinations, toys, supplies)?
Have you thought of the type of mate you are looking for?There are thousands of considerations about breed, size, age and disposition that one should consider before adopting. Do you live a physically active lifestyle (hiking, jogging, camping) that would be conducive to including an energetic dog? Do you have physical ailments that might limit your ability to walk a puppy or live with an active dog? Take a long, hard look at your life and determine what type of dog would fit into it nicely.
Before you find yourself looking into all the sad and loving faces at your local dog shelter, take the time to consider if it really is a good decision to adopt. It can be very difficult to say ‘no’ to a dog in need of a home, but there are other ways to help. If the time isn’t right to bring a dog home with you, spend time volunteering at or for a shelter. From dog walking to office work, you can provide greatly needed and appreciated services in many capacities! If the time is right to add to your family, you get ready to experience highs and lows and joys like you could never imagine. They truly are man’s best friend!