The biggest challenge to saving homeless shelter pets is finding good foster homes. Wonderful, adoptable pets are put down every day in shelters across the country because there isn’t enough room to keep up with the intake flow. Rescue organizations try to help these animals by pulling them out of shelters and finding them forever homes. However, most rescues don’t have shelters to house the animals. They rely on kind, caring people who are willing to open up their hearts and homes to these pets. In general, the rescue organization provides the funding for the care of the animal (including all medical needs) and the foster commits to providing the animal with a safe, loving environment to live in while awaiting its forever home. The foster usually will also be responsible for bringing the animal to any vet visits (paid for by the rescue) and any adoption events. The specifics of the foster/rescue relationship will vary, but that is the usual general arrangement.
Who makes a good foster?
Someone who loves animals, but doesn’t want to/can’t commit to a “forever home” situation. Fosters agree to care for an animal on a temporary basis – which can be a very short term situation, for instance when an animal needs to be pulled from a shelter now, but will be transported out of state. It can also be a longer term – caring for the animal until adopted.
Someone who is considering adopting a new pet, but isn’t sure what kind they really want. A foster situation can be a type of trial. Maybe you’re not sure if you want a small breed or a giant breed or something in between. Maybe you don’t know if you’d prefer the fun and playfulness of a puppy or the calm, laid-back senior dog. Male or female, can’t decide – try each one out as a foster. Maybe you’ll even fall in love and decide to adopt your foster. Foster failures are the one fail that everyone loves to see.
Maybe you have children who think they’re ready for the responsibility of a pet, but you think they need to prove themselves. You can volunteer to be a foster and give your kids the chance at some “on the job” training in pet care (under your guidance, of course!).
Maybe you’d love to have a pet, but it wouldn’t fit in with your month long summer vacations. The beauty of fostering is that you can fit it into your schedule. Want to only care for a dog for a week or 2 a few times a year – there are plenty of foster opportunities like that. Shelters here in the south frequently fill to capacity, leading to the need for euthanization. Rescues located up north are often able to get more animals adopted out there. However, from the time a rescue pulls an animal from a shelter until the time that transport can be made is usually 1 to 4 weeks. Local fosters are needed to care for the animals until the date of transport.
If any of that sounds like something you’d be interested in doing, contact some local rescue organizations and tell them you’re considering becoming a foster. We’ll be building a directory of rescues soon here on Rescue Planet to make it easier to find one near you!