Animal shelters serve as temporary way stations for animals that are between homes. The purpose of shelters is to offer food and safe surroundings for surrendered or lost pets until they can be reunited with owners or be adopted by new families.
The ASPCA says around 6.3 million companion animals enter U.S. shelters every year, with a nearly even split between dogs and cats. While shelter pet numbers are on the decline since 2011, many shelters simply cannot house too many animals. In many instances, shelters rely on pet foster families.
What is pet fostering?
Fostering a companion animal is an agreement by an individual to care for a needy pet in his or her private residence until the animal is placed in a permanent new home. Many times shelters will ask foster parents to step up and house puppies to provide early socialization and training to acclimate these young animals to living in homes.
Who pays for fostering costs?
The question of financing foster care depends on the organization one works with. Most shelters or rescue organizations will cover at least some of the costs of supplies and medical care. However, this is not always the case. It is important for potential foster parents to understand the commitment fostering requires before signing up.
What are some benefits to fostering for the people involved?
While there are many benefits to the pet, including a less stressful, quiet environment, people get something out of fostering, too. Foster families can provide love and affection to an animal that needs it. It can be rewarding to do something selfless, and teaches compassion to everyone in the household. Since having a pet is a large responsibility, pet fostering also serves as an introductory lesson for anyone considering becoming a permanent pet parent. When fostering a pet, everyone in the household gets to see the day-to-day tasks that pet ownership requires.
How long is the fostering term?
The ASPCA says that time commitments for fostering can vary. Sometimes it may be a matter of weeks or it could be months, depending on the foster program and the pet’s situation.
What are common expectations?
A foster program will explain their specific expectations. These may include training the pets to void outdoors or in a litter box. Foster parents may be expected to teach a dog to rest in his crate or basic commands.
Who can I reach out to?
The animal care resource Great Pet Care says municipal shelters, nonprofit shelters and nonprofit animal rescue groups typically have fostering programs. Rescue groups tend to have more time and resources to provide temporary pet parents with more compatible animal matches.