Dog Fostering FAQ

Becoming a foster volunteer can be a marvelously cooperative and rewarding adventure. Fostering may be a good idea for folks that aren’t sure what kind of dog is right for them, or are currently “between dogs.” Other foster parents are people that have lost their once-in-a-lifetime dog and decided the foster lifestyle is now best for them. This week’s contribution is presented in a sleek and streamlined Q & A format in order to focus on the accounts and advantages associated with becoming a foster volunteer.

Fostering, like adoption, still means you must provide the time and effort to train, socialize, exercise, and otherwise care for a new dog. The primary differences are that foster dogs are more likely to have had an interesting or traumatic history, and volunteers are expected to only provide custody for 2-3 weeks.

Please note that terms such as “foster organization” or “rescue group” or “pet adoption service,” for the purpose of this confabulation, are used interchangeably.

Where can I find a foster organization?
Recommended sources include Petfinder, your veterinarian, or any pet care provider you know and trust. Be sure to review the website for each recommended rescue group since many of them are dedicated to only one type of breed or situation. Online reviews will also be helpful, as some organizations have immensely stringent foster requirements. If it’s apparent that NOBODY is good enough to adopt or foster their dogs, move on to another group.

Will fostering a dog be expensive?
Foster groups pay for food, flea and tick medicine, veterinary care, and some supplies. It is not normal to be asked to make a large financial commitment to a foster group.

What do people mean when they say “foster fail?”
This frisky turn of phrase is delivered tongue-in-cheek to simply mean that a foster volunteer has agreed to adopt their “temporary” foster pet.

Can I foster a dog to see if they get along with my first dog?
Yes, some rescue groups have specific programs for this type of situation. Expect to pay a $300 deposit to have a week or two to try things out. If the dog acclimates well (and steals your heart) your deposit becomes the adoption fee. If you choose not to adopt the dog, they will only keep $50 of the deposit.

Will I be able to foster any dog I want?
Sometimes, but the application process used to match foster volunteers with pets is designed to help the rescue group meet their needs before yours.

What is the longest time you may need to foster a dog?
Their entire lifetime.

Wait. What?
There are a few reasons why this sometimes happens. A foster dog that is terminally ill, or otherwise has a medical condition that perpetrates costs or conditions unpalatable to potential owners, is one example. Another reason is that some dogs are just too quirky and unmanageable, and therefore difficult to re-home. Depending on your foster agreement, this could lead to a situation where a foster volunteer keeps their foster dog for years (but only if they agree to do so).

Is fostering more difficult than adoption?
Possibly. Many foster dogs have anxiety and fear, especially if they grew up homeless. Some will act out by barking, being destructive, or showing aggression. The advantage to fostering is that it’s a provisional arrangement.

Is it difficult to see your foster pet given away?
Sometimes. Usually. I mean, perhaps less so if they’ve destroyed all your screen windows and stripped the linoleum off your kitchen floor. Some foster volunteers are able to stay in touch with their former charges, but then a new foster comes along!

Fostering is ideal for the person who loves dogs but doesn’t get attached too easily. If you know it will be difficult to see a charge go, or you aren’t sure how challenging it may become, you can always donate money or time to a rescue organization. The demand for volunteers is unending and foster groups regularly hold events to promote their forlorn and furry friends.

On your way out, be sure to riffle through this Top Ten list of considerations that potential foster volunteers may want to think about:

-Where did the dog come from? Has the dog ever lived in a home?
-Is there a known history of abuse, neglect, or trauma?
-How long does the rescue organization expect me to foster this dog?
-Who handles potential adopters and their questions?
-What happens if I can no longer foster the dog?
-Is the dog neutered or spayed?
-Has the dog had any health problems or on any medications?
-Are vaccinations current?
-Is the dog house-trained?
-How does the dog get along with people (children, dogs, cats)?

Featured photo – Ruby! Her friends call her called Ruby Doobie or Ruby Tuesday. Ruby enjoys sunshine, long naps, and treats imbued with bacon.

One response to “Dog Fostering FAQ”

  1. Jennifer Fehlberg Avatar
    Jennifer Fehlberg

    We have an energetic black lab and we started fostering again so she would have a playmate but we don’t have the permanent responsibility of two dogs. We can stop fostering when we need a break. Fostering is a wonderful way to help an animal that needs it.

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