Fostering a rescue animal is a great way to support a shelter or rescue group. When you foster a cat or dog, you are saving two lives: the life of the animal you are fostering and the life of the animal that can take its place in the shelter. It takes some research and preparation before you begin, but fostering can be a rewarding experience.
Why Should I Foster?
Some rescue groups do not have a physical shelter and they rely on volunteers to foster animals that are up for adoption. Shelters use fosters to free up space in the shelter for additional animals. Some reasons that an animal may be in need of a foster home:
- The animal needs a safe place to recover from surgery, illness, or injury.
- The puppy or kitten is too young to for adoption and needs a place to stay until it is older.
- A dog that has not had much contact with people and needs socialization with other pets and people.
- Shelter life is stressful. Sometimes just getting the animal out of the shelter can help it become more personable and adoptable.
- A dog that has some behavior issues that needs additional support and training.
How Do I Not Fall in Love?
This may be the hardest part of becoming a foster parent to a rescue animal. You have to go into this with the right mindset. Know that this is not your pet. It belongs to another person who you have not met yet. You are taking care of their pet until they are ready to take it home. It is hard when it is time to say goodbye, but you know it is going to a good home that has been evaluated by the shelter. You have given that animal a second chance. Know that you are making room for another foster that needs your help.
What Should I Expect?
Fostering a rescue animal is fulfilling, but it can be challenging. If you are fostering a dog from a shelter, be prepared to treat that dog like a puppy. Dogs may not be housetrained or they may have other behavioral issues because they have never lived in a house. Often basic housetraining is all the dog needs to correct issues. Training in other friendly behaviors such as walking well on a leash and coming when called will help the dog become more adoptable. You will be responsible for feeding your foster animal and making sure it remains healthy. Most shelters will reimburse you for medical expenses as long as you take the dog or cat to their approved veterinarian. Make sure you ask about this when you inquire about fostering. Most importantly, give your foster pet lots of love and attention. They need to be able to settle into the household. This is important in helping find them a new loving home.
How Do I Get Started?
Contact your local animal shelter or rescue organization. They will provide the guidance that you need to begin fostering. There may be a training class and home visit. Make sure you have all the pet supplies you need before bringing home the foster animal. When you do bring home your foster animal, introduce it to your other family members and pets one at a time, slowly and under supervision. It may take a little while, but your foster animal will find his or her place in the household. Opening your heart and your home to a foster animal that needs some extra attention can be the ultimate way to support homeless animals.
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