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The 411 on Fostering

  • March 18, 2013
  • 4:30 pm
The 411 on Fostering

It’s no secret that we’ve got a serious case of animal overpopulation in this country. And though more people are starting to understand the necessity of spaying and neutering, dogs and cats are continuing to procreate like…well, rabbits. Shelters across the nation are continually dealing with over-capacity, and not only is it taxing their resources and staff, it’s making it increasingly difficult for no-kill shelters to save as many animals as they’d like.

So what can you do? While the possibility of adopting another pet may not be in the cards for you right now, becoming a foster parent is an excellent (and unbelievably rewarding) way to keep the population of unwanted and stray animals down, decrease euthanasia rates, and increase adoption rates. It better prepares your foster pet to be the perfect new addition for another family—teach an animal how to love and they will share it with others (and with you!) tenfold.

Think you’ve got what it takes? Here’s the 411:

Is fostering right for you?

To help decide if fostering is right for you, first consider how much time, energy, and money you can devote to caring for the pet(s) you’ll bring into your home. Take an inventory of your living area—it’s important to know if you have enough space for more animals in your home because even dog bowls take up room. Also, keep in mind how easy it is to get attached to pets. While many animal agencies would love to have foster parents keep the animals they’ve taken in, some strongly discourage foster parents from adopting the pets. Make sure you understand the rules and limitations associated with fostering before taking on the commitment.

How to become a foster

Shelters are always looking for volunteers who want to go the extra mile by fostering animals in their home, and some animal welfare organizations don’t have a kennel space and rely solely on fosters. If you have a shelter you’re interested in working with, contact them and ask if they have a foster program. Or you can visit TAILS Resource Page and find a shelter in your area to contact. You’ll likely need to go in for an interview, and the shelter will probably send somebody to check out your home and make sure it’s suitable. In addition, lots of shelters also require to complete a foster orientation program.

Understand the costs

Many shelters will provide the basics you’ll need—such as a pet bed, food, and some toys. They’ll also cover any medical costs you incur while the animal is in your care. If you have a tendency to spoil your pets though (and really, who doesn’t!), do know that extra out-of-pocket expenses you pay will not necessarily be reimbursed. If you’re concerned, talk to the shelter before making any purchases. Otherwise, consider any extras you purchase a donation and accept payment in the form of waggy tails, purrs, and happy kisses!

Saying goodbye is ruff

When it’s time for your foster pet to go to their fur-ever home, chances are it will be a little tough for you. If the shelter and new family are okay with it, get all the appropriate contact information and arrange for a future play date or for occasional photo updates. Sure, you’ll be sad, but you’ll also get the enormous gift of knowing you saved a life. The rewards are worth the difficult goodbyes.

Have you ever been a pet foster parent? Share your experience in the comments.


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Read more: Cats, Dogs, Everyday Pet Care, Pets, , , ,

Selected by Laura Drucker, TAILS Editor

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TAILS is an interactive website, online community, and print magazine that celebrates the relationship between pets and their people. TAILS features expert knowledge, advice, pet product reviews, local resource guides, community event listings, and fun contests to promote and encourage people to live responsibly with their pets.


+ add your own
3:51AM PDT on Apr 29, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

5:22PM PDT on Apr 2, 2013

I would want to keep them all!

6:56AM PDT on Mar 26, 2013

Thank you TAILS, for Sharing this!

6:05PM PDT on Mar 25, 2013


11:16AM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

I'm fostering for the first time right now.

2:58PM PDT on Mar 21, 2013

Thanks for the article. I get attached to them and twice I fostered then I fell sorry for them and I kept them but I was happy I did.

10:05AM PDT on Mar 21, 2013


7:34AM PDT on Mar 20, 2013


6:04AM PDT on Mar 20, 2013

This is a great job

4:39AM PDT on Mar 20, 2013

We have fostered many cats & kittens & what a joy.Extremely sad when the time comes to send them on their way to their new homes,but you have the happy moments remembering the wonderful start that you gave them in life.anyone thinking about it? Do it.You will love it.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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