One way to help shelter pets is to be a foster home. The principle behind fostering is to provide a homeless dog or cat with a stable environment in order to evaluate their personality, habits, needs and behaviors. This allows us the opportunity to gain information that is useful in finding the appropriate forever home for the animal. We need caring, responsible adults to join our foster home team by opening their homes and their hearts to a special dog or cat in need. The animals we typically look to place in a foster home are those that are recovering from a medical issue, have an emotional issue, a training need or one that has just been at our shelter too long and can use a break while we continue to search for the perfect home or a rescue. In addition to being a fun and rewarding experience, fostering can be time consuming and both physically and emotionally demanding.
Frequently Asked Questions about Fostering
Here are some common questions people ask about being a foster parent:
Why Should I Foster A Cat Or A Dog?
As a foster parent, you will be able to love, care for, and enjoy knowing different cats and dogs. And you will be doing a wonderful thing – giving these deserving animals a break from the shelter.
What Will I Need To Do As A Foster Parent?
Foster homes are responsible for the daily care of the foster cat or dog, including feeding, exercising, socializing, grooming, reinforcing basic obedience commands, observing and evaluating general behavior and temperament, and of course providing patience, love and security.
Understand that all the shelter animals are rescue animals and their behavior can be unpredictable. Be prepared for some adjustment issues in the beginning. It can be stressful for both you and the pet to be in a new situation. Be patient. If the going gets tough we will help out with advice and encouragement.
Will The Animal Be Healthy?
All of our animals are examined, spayed or neutered (or soon will be), and current on all vaccinations. We will tell you if an animal has a health problem and together evaluate whether or not an animal with medical needs is a good choice for you.
Will I Get To Choose The Cat Or Dog To Foster?
We will show you the animals that are in need of foster homes and you can let us know your preference. If we feel that the animal is a good match for your home we will set you up as a foster home. We do our best to place an animal that fits your lifestyle. If you live in an apartment, you can ask for or an older animal who is low energy or a cat or dog in medical recovery who needs to be kept quiet. If you are an active family, you can ask for a dog who needs lots of walks and plenty of exercise. If someone in your family is comfortable working with dogs, they can help with some basic obedience or teach him some tricks.
What If I Already Have A Pet?
In most cases, it`s fine if you already have a cat and/or dog, as long as your pet and the foster pet are both healthy and well behaved around other animals. Prior to arranging any foster home, an introduction can be done between your current animals and the animal we need to have fostered in order to ensure it will be a fit for the whole family.
How Long Does An Animal Stay in Foster Care?
The foster stay varies with each cat and dog depending on the animal’s specific needs. Animals with special needs may need to stay in foster care for a period of months. Some may stay only a few days. It really depends on the individual cat’s or dog`s situation.
Do I Have To Be Home With The Animal All Day?
Not necessarily. Many foster family members are employed outside the home and still provide a quality environment for the cat or dog. We do ask that any time you are unable to directly supervise the foster animal, they must be confined to a small, secure area, preferably a training crate. This results in a safe secure place for the cat and dog and also protects your home and possessions.
What Will It Cost To Foster An Animal?
GCAO pays for any necessary medical treatment the foster pet may require while under your care. If your foster animal does need medical care, you will be asked to transport it to one of our veterinarians. GCAO appreciates it if you are able to provide the food, but if necessary, we will provide it. We will also supply a crate/carrier and other supplies as needed
Do I Need A Fenced Yard In Order To Foster A Dog?
A fenced yard is preferred, but not necessary. Foster dogs must NEVER be allowed to run free. If your yard is surrounded by a secure fence, the dog may be exercised there off leash. Outside the yard the dog must be on leash at ALL times.
What If I Am Having Problems?
You will be given a contact person for any unforeseen circumstances or emergency questions. Being a foster home is extremely rewarding. However, you should keep in mind that many, but not all, rescue animals are housebroken or may have had little socialization or obedience training. We find that when given a chance these animals not only improve, they flourish in their foster care environment.
What If I Want To Travel?
If you are fostering and want to go away for a weekend or take a vacation, the foster cat or dog can be returned to the shelter`s care while you are away. We ask that you arrange it in advance, as soon as you know, so that we can reserve a spot.
Will I Become Attached To My Foster Pet?
Yes, of course. But, when you meet the new family who`s ready to provide a permanent loving home, you will feel more than satisfied to see him move on to his new life.
I’d Like To Foster. What Do I Do Next?
If you are interested in fostering a shelter pet, please complete and submit our Volunteer Application. Once we receive your application we will contact you to discuss what we may have available. Thank you!