Fostering animals in your home is a great way to give back and provide a warm, safe, and loving space for rescue dogs and cats before they find their forever homes. With many animal shelters and rescue facilities at capacity, having a list of available foster homes allows more animals to be cared for.
Fostering animals can be a perfect way to test the waters if you’re also considering adopting a pet. The prospect of having a pet can be overwhelming, and a foster can help you ease in while giving an adoptable cat or dog a great temporary home.
Why Is It Important To Make Conscious Decisions About Animal Fostering?
It’s important to set your own boundaries and expectations before you agree to take in a foster animal. Ask yourself if you’re in the right place emotionally, physically, and financially to invest the time and love that a foster cat or dog needs.
If you’re considering adopting any animals you foster, remember that your first foster might not be the right fit for you long-term. Try to moderate your expectations so you’re not disappointed. The point of a foster home is to be a safe place for a shelter or rescue organization to send animals, so if you don’t adopt your first rescue, you’re helping more pets find homes.
What To Take Into Consideration Before Moving Animal Fostering Into Your Home
There are some key things that most shelters or rescues will ask you to make sure you’re prepared for a foster cat or dog. Animal Fostering takes dedicated time and the right environment. Here are some of the top considerations:
- Do you have children?
- Do you have other pets?
- What’s your work schedule?
- How many evenings per week are you away from home?
- Do you have friends or family with pets that visit often?
- Do you travel for work?
- Does your apartment or condo building allow for guest pets? (Many buildings that are not pet-friendly do allow for visitor pets)
How To Set Up Your Space For Success
Animal Fostering may require you to make some adaptations to your home to provide calm and accessible places for your foster pet. Remember that they’re coming to you after a period of intense turmoil, so the more relaxed your home is, the better.
- Living room – Coffee tables are a frequent area for accidental spills. Being low to the ground makes drinks or decor items easy targets. The space between the coffee table and couch is often quite small and can be a trouble spot for foster dogs to feel trapped if they can’t make a quick exit. Consider clearing the top of your coffee table and pulling it further out from the couch to prevent any issues.
- Kitchen – Many foster dogs are reactive and have resource-guarding issues or an intense interest in food. This can make your kitchen a potential area for conflict. It’s often best to use a baby gate to keep foster dogs out of the kitchen.
- Front entry – The main door to your home sets the tone for each entrance and exit a foster dog makes. Keeping this area clear of obstructions and making an easy-to-reach place for leashes, poop bags, etc., will help keep the tone calm and make for smoother transitions in and out. Your entryway is another place where a baby gate can be a lifesaver. If your foster dog is excitable and tough to control at the door, putting up a baby gate to corral all that energy can help you keep things under control (and save your floors from wet dog feet).
Pet Essentials For Foster Animals
It’s important for your foster pet to feel like they have a place in your life, even if you know it’ll only be until they find they’re forever home. Some rescues offer things like beds and toys, but it’s a big help to them if you can provide some of the key items yourself.
- Pet bed – Choose a mid-range bed for the pets you’ll be fostering so you don’t need to have multiple sizes.
- Food and water bowls – Bowls with a raised stand help older and bigger dogs to eat more comfortably while keeping your floors safe from staining.
- Toys – Some foster animals will be more playful than others, so it’s a good idea to have a selection of toys for entertainment.
- Leash – Have a short leash for walking on sidewalks and a longer leash to let your foster dog run without worrying about them bounding after squirrels in the park.
- Collar – Shelters and rescues will often send fosters with collars, but if you want to spoil your new foster fur baby, a new collar is a fun way to do that.
- Litter box/ pee pads – Always be ready for the call of nature. Foster cats will need a litter box, cat litter, and a scooper. Smaller dogs or those that haven’t spent a lot of time indoors might need pee pads to save your floors from accidents.
Transporting foster animals
If you’re working with a rescue that doesn’t have a main facility, they may offer to transport animals safely to your home. Once they get to you, however, you’ll need a secure way to take your foster pet on new adventures and maybe deliver them to their forever home when they’re adopted. Many shelters require you to pick up your foster animal from them, so you’ll need to be prepped right from the start.
Cats should ride inside a hard shell carrier that’s secured to a backseat when you’re driving. It can be tempting to let them roam the vehicle and snuggle you while you’re on the road, but this can be harmful to the animal if there’s even a small accident.
Ideally, dogs should wear a harness that clips onto a seat in the back of your car. There are many product options for this type of doggie seatbelt that will ensure your foster dog is safe while you’re driving. If that isn’t an option because seat space is limited, think about putting a wire divider in your SUV so your foster dog can ride in the back and still be safe.
These tips don’t only apply to foster animals – the same goes if you’re embarking on a big move and your pets are riding with you.
Chances are, you’re thinking of fostering an animal because you’re compassionate, warm, and caring. These are wonderful qualities to have, but they can make goodbyes difficult. Once you’ve bonded with your foster cat or dog and helped them to find their forever family, the time will come to say goodbye. As tough as this time can be, it’s best to keep in mind that this will eventually happen.
Remember that if you’re saying goodbye to your foster animal, it’s because you’ve done your job incredibly well. Not only have you helped one rescue animal to find a new home, but you’re now available to give other pets a safe place to be while they wait for their forever families to find them.
Fostering animals is challenging, heartwarming, and rewarding, all rolled into one adorable, furry package. No matter what type of animal you foster or how long you have them, you’re making a huge difference in another creature’s life.