Tips for Prospective Pet Foster Parents

Ever consider fostering a pet? Our resident pet expert, Dr Ben Willcocks, discusses the things to think about if you are rolling around the idea of being a foster parent for your local shelter.

Foster homes are temporary homes for rescue animals until they find their permanent forever homes. If you have been considering pet fostering, and you feel you are ready for the commitment, the decision to foster a pet can be a valuable experience for both you, and your new friend. Plus, it makes a huge difference in lightening the heavy load of animals in shelters and pounds.

Unfortunately, many shelters are at full capacity, and they are struggling to simply feed and board the animals coming in off the street. By offerning your services as a foster parent, you can provide a temporary home for a rescue animal until they find their forever home.

If you’ve never owned a dog before, this is a great way to find out if you’re ready for the responsibility of owning a pet. And if you happen to fall in love with the dog or cat you’re fostering, you may even have the opportunity to adopt them yourself. So if this all sounds appealing, read below to find out how to get involved.

1. Get prepared for a pet.

The first step in the fostering process is to make sure you are ready for a pet, albeit, short term. This may mean getting in the mindset of a pet owner and understanding the time commitment and responsibility that comes along with that. Or it could be as little as buying some pet food bowls or a couple of toys for your guest. Whatever that means for you, be sure you are prepared and ready to welcome the adorable bundle of joy into your home.

2. Find a shelter.

The first step in the pet adoption process is to find a local shelter that you want to support, and see if it offers a foster program. You can do a quick search through Google or Yahoo to find a local shelter. Most shelters have websites that will give information about fostering programs. If you can’t find information on their site, give them a call and they can tell you if they have a foster program and how their process works.

3. Fill out an application.

Each shelter is different, but most shelters ask that you fill out an application to begin the fostering process. This allows the shelter staff to get to know you. Are you a current pet owner, former pet owner, or a newbie to dog ownership? The application will help them get to know you, to determine if you’re a good fit for the program.

4. Take the next steps in the application process.

After filling out the initial application, some shelters may ask you to come in for an interview, conduct an over-the-phone interview, or conduct a house visit. Each shelter is different, so familiarize yourself with the process of the shelter to which you are applying.

5. Welcome the pet.

If the shelter thinks you’d be a good fit as a pet owner, you can expect them to call you when they have a pet in mind for you. The pet will usually come with a crate/kennel, leash, and pet tags. The length of time that you keep your pet depends on how long the shelter takes to find a permanent home. It may be a few weeks or a few months. Most shelters also give you the ability to adopt the pet if you fall in love with them and decide you want them to be your forever pet.

6.Foster parents have responsibilities.

As a foster parent, you may be responsible for bringing your foster animal to different adoption events the shelter sponsors, in order to expedite the adoption process. The shelter you work with will have specific information about its adoption processes and your responsibilities.

7. Plan for parting with your pet.

If you decide that you do not want to adopt your foster pet, the day will come where you have to part with your new friend. This can be an emotional process for some, but you can always adopt a forever pet if you feel you are ready. Happy Fostering!

Got a question for Dr. Ben? Ask him here.

Dr Ben Willcocks is a Veterinarian and a regular contributor to the pet 

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