Are you an animal lover looking to make a real difference in the lives of homeless dogs and cats? Consider volunteering with your local animal shelter or rescue group and becoming a pet foster parent. It’s easy to get involved, and there are all ages and sizes of dogs and cats just waiting for a foster home. Don’t have the time for round the clock bottle feedings? No worries, there are all kinds of pet fostering opportunities so you’re bound to find the perfect fit for you. Here are some tips to get started.
Do some research into local shelters and rescue groups. Many dog rescue organizations don’t have a physical shelter building and rely totally on foster homes. If you have a favorite type of dog, many dog rescue groups are breed-specific, and others focus on senior dogs, special needs dogs, or puppies.
Fill out the fostering application carefully and be sure to ask for clarification on any questions you might have. Make sure you understand the finances. How will vet bills, food, and other expenses be paid for? Are there any training sessions or meetings that foster parents will be expected to attend? Also, be sure that your home conforms to the organization’s standards. Some will send a staff member by for a visit to check your house.
Foster homes are always in high demand for medium to large-sized adolescent dogs that need extra training. They often get passed over for younger puppies, or because their size and rambunctiousness is intimidating to some potential adopters. If you have the time and experience to engage in socialization and behavior modification for unruly dogs, you will truly be making a difference and giving a homeless dog a second chance at finding a forever home.
Warm weather means kitten season, and shelters and rescues always have a ton of kittens (and mother cats with kittens) that would benefit from the care and attention of a foster home. Animal shelters are overflowing with kittens at this time of year, and like dog rescue groups, cat rescue organizations often rely solely on fosters because they have no physical shelter building.
As with dogs, make sure you understand the financial details of a fostering arrangement with a shelter or rescue group. Orphaned kittens will require bottle feedings with formula, so be clear on who will pay for formula and other supplies. Rescued kittens can have health problems like parasites and upper respiratory infections that require multiple vet visits and regular dosing with medications at home.
Not interested in fostering kittens? Senior cats or adult special needs cats do much better in a calm and quiet foster home than in a hectic shelter environment. Long-term foster homes are always needed for adult and senior shelter cats with health issues like diabetes, blindness, incontinence, or cats who are FIV or FeLV positive and need to be isolated from other cats. These cats are often hard to adopt and can thrive with the loving care of a foster parent.
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- Aaron Seminoff