REWARDING POSITION WITH BENEFITS
Applications now being accepted – Everywhere!
Have you ever thought about becoming a foster parent for pets? To follow are the experiences of past and present foster parents to help you make your decision – a decision that would most certainly mean the difference between life and death for so many pets in need of loving homes. Please take a few minutes to read what these incredible individuals have to say about fostering.
A study conducted by The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies indicates that shelters in Canada took in over 85,000 cats and over 38,000 dogs in 2014. Twenty-seven percent of cats and eleven percent of dogs admitted into these shelters were euthanized.
Approximately 2.4 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs—about one every thirteen seconds—are put down in U.S. shelters each year according to The Humane Society of the United States
Having foster homes available means the opportunity for shelters and rescue organizations to remove these animals from, in most instances the imminent threat of euthanization at overcrowded facilities.
Fostering a dog isn’t a lifetime commitment.
It’s a commitment to saving a LIFE.
Senior and special needs animals are often the first to be euthanized as they are considered ‘less desirable,’ and therefore, ‘less adoptable’ than younger animals without special needs.
Cosimo Lini is the founder of a new rescue organization called ‘No Dog Forsaken;’ A rescue that looks out for these ‘special’ dogs:
I realize it is not possible to save every dog. However, I do believe every dog should be given a chance for a happy life
Dogs with behavioral issues may require extensive training sessions and socialization before adoption. If they are not suited for adoption, the rescue will find permanent accommodation for these dogs, with a qualified handler. In extreme cases, where the dog is considered to be a danger to the community, the difficult decision to remove the threat is made.
Additional measures may be required for Senior, and special needs animals. In most cases, requirements are minor. These beautiful, older companions still have so much life and love to share with anyone lucky enough to meet them and be chosen as their person.
All of the foster parents I spoke with have, in some capacity, been involved with various shelters or rescue groups or connected with the group as a result of a post on Facebook requesting a foster home for a certain animal in need.
What does fostering involve?
Providing a home setting eliminates the stress that proves too much for a large number of animals that find themselves overwhelmed in a shelter environment. For some dogs, such as those being removed from a puppy mill, or hoarding situation, experiencing life in a home is a new experience.
This opportunity, along with proper socialization: gradually introducing the animals to people, other animals, and children, helps these dogs become one step closer to a successful adoption. Jan Todd, foster parent, and advocate against animal abuse adds that medical care may also be required. This might include dosing of medication, application of medical creams, special baths, and transport to the vet for such things as a scheduled spay/neuter. These appointments are usually scheduled by the shelter or rescue organization.
A volunteer with Speaking of Dogs, and fellow foster parent, Leanne Tucker points out the importance of learning as much as you can about the animal you are fostering. By doing so, fosters can learn what training is required; initial or ongoing, for them to succeed and ensure their best chance in a new home.
Do foster parents play a role in finding homes for the animals in their care? Meet and greets etc.
Jan explains that it depends on the organization you’re fostering for as each has its guidelines. At present, I am fostering for a rescue that does involve me in the adoption. They send me a copy of the potential adopter’s application to review, and I am asked if I feel they are a good match for the animal. If the potential adopter is local, I do the meet and greet and home visit.
What do rescues expect from foster parents?
Keep the rescue organization or shelter informed of any concerns regarding behavior and health, and request assistance if required. Also, foster parents are expected to help the animals in their care adjust to living in a home and providing them with positive experiences until the animal is adopted. Leanne also says,
Foster parents are expected to care for, and keep the dog and the public safe
What qualifications and qualities do rescues look for in potential foster parents?
As well as being reputable, with a love of animals, foster parents must be in a position to provide a safe, loving home for the dogs and cats that enter their care. Elizabeth Copeland, a foster parent for DREAM – Dachshund Rescue of Georgia says,
The entire family needs to be on board when it comes to fostering animals in your house
Elizabeth also states that rescue organizations will also look at the care provided to other, family pets within the home. The set up of the environment is also important.
A safe environment consisting of a contained, fully fenced yard is important – Ruth Wozniak
Ruth suggests knowledge of a dog’s body language and communication methods is helpful. Experience with certain behavioral issues and the ability to understand and manage them is also an asset.
Who looks after the cost of caring for fosters?
In most, but not all cases, the rescue organization or shelter will cover all costs unless agreed otherwise. Elizabeth covers the daily costs of fostering as well as flea and tick prevention. Ruth says she will usually pick up the costs if the dog is with her for more than a few weeks. Much of the food donated to shelters is passed the expiration date.
Leanne points out that she does not use the food provided opting to take on this expense personally.
What questions should people interested in fostering ask?
-are you expected to cover any costs / Are food and veterinary costs covered
-who to contact in case of a medical or behavioral issue
-what happens if the foster animal is not suitable for the foster home
-how does the rescue vet potential adopters
-what level of training is required: housetraining, basic manners, behavioral
-what is the projected length of time you would be needed to foster
-are there any issues such as medical, or social, for example, aggression towards other animals (dog and cat-friendly), people (scared of men or uniforms), are there special needs
-what is the history of the animal, if known?
What information and support do you feel a rescue organization should provide to foster parents?
Leanne facilitates a workshop educating the public about dog body language and behavior and she believes shelters and rescue organizations should provide this information to volunteers, including foster parents.
Also, the organization should offer the following information:
-where did the animal come from, and why are they in need of a home
-provide details of any health or behavioral issues, scheduled appointments with the vet or medical treatment plan, and offer support in whatever form necessary for these issues
A rescue organization must be available to answer questions and address any concerns their foster parents have – Jan Todd
What lengths of time have you fostered, and what type and how many foster animals have you cared for?
Elizabeth has fostered twelve dachshunds and dachshund mixes over the course of four years.
Leanne’s current foster is one of three or four dogs, and he has been with her for four months now.
Ruth has fostered a range of breeds: Cattle dogs, huskies, spaniels, shepherds, a Doberman mix and a Jack Russell Terrier, who is still in her care. These dogs have been overnight and weekend guests as well as longer residents, in Ruth’s care for periods of one or two months to nine or more months where behavioral challenges are involved.
Do you have other companions in the house? If so, what is their reaction to other animals coming and going? How did you introduce them and how do you keep the peace? Feeding time, sleeping arrangements, etc.
Leanne shares that her resident dog is reactive and had to be carefully, and slowly introduced to the new foster dog offsite, and on numerous occasions before bringing the foster dog home. The two are not together, living in different areas of the house, separated by baby gates.
Says Leanne, ‘Hubby would prefer they are not alone together but they seem fine, and they do go for walks together. If my resident dog did not have ‘dog concerns,’ I would have them together and watch them carefully. Especially around food, treats, and toys. I would also make sure they had time apart.’
Elizabeth’s strategy is to kennel for feeding and sleeping, and when not able to supervise. Otherwise, baby gates are used to separate as required.
I try not to leave anything to chance. Fixing a problem is harder than ensuring a problem does not occur – Ruth Wozniak
While the new dog is in the crate, says Ruth, I’ll have ‘cookie time.’ Everyone sits, and gets a cookie around the crate. This way, they get to know each other and enjoy a positive experience without having to interact with each other.
One of Ruth’s dogs, Bodie, is exceptionally non-confrontational – a good ‘test’ dog. Ruth explains her process of introducing the dogs one at a time:
I let the new dog get used to the yard and sniff around, while on a leash. Then I bring out Brodie. We walk around the yard many times before one of them is put away. I will interrupt when they start to play to avoid escalation until they know each other, and until I know their limits.
Ruth adds that new dogs are always crated if I am not watching, and when I am sleeping. Also, the dogs eat in the crates or, in separate rooms unless supervised.
Toys are not left out in the beginning. Everything is actively supervised as the dogs get to know each other
Ruth’s female dog is a ‘Prick-eared bitch.’ I love that term, says Ruth. I introduce any females to her very carefully and briefly. It could take a couple of weeks before I let them interact freely.
Ensuring newcomers are vaccinated before joining your companions is important. Is there anything else you recommend before welcoming fosters into your home?
I quarantine any questionable fosters, says Elizabeth. Depending on where the dog is coming from, Ruth advises I like to have fecal tests done to prevent the transmission of parasites to my dogs, if possible.
Is it true that fostering becomes easier the more you do it?
You become more aware of the difference between medical or behavioral issues and when a problem exceeds your abilities shares, Elizabeth.
Ruth admits that dogs that are adopted quickly are easier. The dogs without issues. The ones with medical or behavioral concerns worry me. This is why, as a foster parent, I love to receive updates from adopters
I can not speak for others, says Jan. For me, fostering is a joy, and I love doing it.
When a dog comes into our home, it is treated as one of our own. I told myself when I began fostering; I would love them but do my very best not to ‘fall in love’ with them.
I will be their nurse, their caregiver, just a Dog Ma, whatever they need to help them get prepared for their forever homes. I feel this is my way to help save lives, one at a time. Well, sometimes two at a time. I cry every time one leaves. It is a cry of happiness that they have a home to go to. So, I guess the answer is no. It doesn’t get easier.
I would cry more if I felt a dog had lost it’s life because it had nowhere to go
FAILURE IS AN OPTION!
And, a whole other blog post (stay tuned for the follow-up post)
SPECIAL NEEDS does not mean ‘broken’ and SENIOR companions still have plenty of life in them and love to share!
What types of fosters are considered special needs?
Medical issues and injuries such as missing limbs, diabetes, seizures, deaf, blind, or social issues. In some cases, these animals require assistance to accomplish daily activities. In other cases, patience and an extra five minutes in a day to administer medication are all that is necessary for them to enjoy life to the fullest. Shelters and Rescue organizations might require a foster parent with previous experience to provide a safe place for these animals.
Leanne adds that dogs with behavioral issues, specifically reactivity and fear aggression, require foster homes that will keep the dog, the family members, and the public safe. Leanne chose to foster her current dog because he was not finding the right fit in the shelter and they were having a difficult time finding a rescue to take on a dog with concerns about strangers – men in particular.
I love learning about dog behaviors, and training techniques. Although experienced, says Ruth, I still take this opportunity to consult other trainers and attend classes with fosters. Including, obedience and agility training.
May have limited vision and hearing, as well as age-related medical conditions and joint issues.
Seniors are often self-contained and content just being loved on, says Elizabeth
Other than being able to provide a safe place for these animals, what are the other benefits of being a foster parent?
Keeps my dog busy and gives my kids a feeling of accomplishment. It teaches them the value of life, and of giving without receiving Elizabeth shares.
For me, says Jan, knowing that I have helped save a life is priceless. Whether I am just providing a bedroom, or helping one heal, it makes my heart smile.
If you can’t make the commitment to adopt for whatever reason, but would like to help and love an animal, fostering is an excellent way to fill that need – for both you and the animal
Please share your favourite foster tale or happiest experience:
Elizabeth shares her story of three puppies abandoned by a breeder. They were malnourished and very ill. I thought one was going to die. He ended up in ICU. We loved them and prepared their food by hand. They started on pablum, graduating to chicken and sweet potato with veggies. Eventually, my favourite little red dachshund was adopted by an amazing family. He had doubled in weight; his coat became glossy, and his tail wagged happily. I still miss that dog.
What is something you would like to share with people considering becoming a foster parent?
The dogs do not come into your home all grateful and loving right away. Get over yourself!
They may be extremely cautious for the first couple of days, or even weeks, explains Ruth. And then, the true personality of the dog starts to appear, and you will see all sorts of behaviors. As we don’t know what the new home will be like, I avoid encouraging behaviors another home might not allow. For example, Ruth says, being on the furniture. Also, dogs can escape in a heartbeat (and, in new situations, will most likely try to). Watch them one hundred percent of the time and attach a leash until they become comfortable in their surroundings. Ruth also recommends a properly fitting martingale collar for fearful dogs.
Leanne suggests doing your research. Make sure the rescue is reputable, that they fully vet their dogs, and provide support to the foster families. Ask to speak with other foster parents before making a commitment.
This post is a tribute to foster parents everywhere. The work you do makes the world of difference to the animals you take under your wings.
Special Thanks to:
Elizabeth Copeland – Water Rolls Up Hill
Jan Todd – Justice For Pookie
Leanne Tucker – Speaking of Dogs
Thank you, also, to Cosimo Lini for starting No Dog Forsaken and ensuring the best chance is given to these dogs.
FOSTER PARENTS NEEDED
No Dog Forsaken, located in Georgina Ontario, is in need of foster families.
Please contact Cosimo Lini for further information.