Are you aware that just around the corner from you are a million little opportunities to enrich your life? Okay, maybe not a million. But however many dogs are in your neighborhood shelter?
That many! Fostering a homeless pet while it is waiting for its forever home is one of the most rewarding life experiences an animal lover can do.
Fostering a shelter animal is one of many ways you can help improve the lives of homeless pets. Most shelter volunteers and animal lovers are well aware of the pet overpopulation problem both locally and nationally – there are millions of dogs that wait and sadly die in shelters and rescues annually, awaiting the forever homes they truly deserve.
While shelters and rescue facilities would like to house every homeless pet, this is often
impractical and impossible due to a lack of resources or space. Dogs that would otherwise be
euthanized can be saved through caring people who are willing to open their home and hearts
to a shelter pet in need.
Many homeless pets grew up in homes where they were well-loved family members. For
whatever reason, these dogs find themselves homeless and alone. It is scary and stressful to go
from a place where you are well loved and surrounded by your family to a place where you are
surrounded by strange dogs, people, sights, and sounds. In many of these dogs, the stress is
manifested in the form of unwanted or self-destructive behaviors.
Foster homes are a great solution for dogs and cats with kennel stress or other special
needs. Whelping mothers, puppies and senior dogs are especially vulnerable to the shelter
environment and need a quiet place to raise young, grow, and age peacefully until the right
forever home can be found. If you choose to become a foster provider, you give these dogs a
chance at life, and save them from the fate so many others suffer – euthanization.
How Do I Become A Foster Care Provider?
So you’ve decided you want to become a pet foster parent. Great! Providing foster will certainly be a rewarding experience, but will just as likely be emotionally challenging. Sending a successful foster to his forever home is bittersweet – you are saying goodbye to a friend, which
hurts, but are also sending him on to the greatest adventure of his life – a place where he will be cherished and loved until he goes to the rainbow bridge – a forever home. And there is always another pet in need of a loving foster home.
The first step will be contacting the Fitchburg Animal Shelter to inquire what dogs or cats are in need of a foster home. Review the application carefully. If you have questions, ask! Who pays for the vet bills? Who is financially responsible for food, vetting, leashes, crate, etc.? Where will the dog be introduced to prospective adopters and how much liberty do you have in scheduling these meetings? Are you responsible for training the dog and if so, to what level? Some dogs require fenced-in yards. For certain dogs, a foster parent who is home all day may be required, or a home without cats or children.
Click here to download the Foster Application: Foster home app
If You Already Have A Pet
Communicable diseases from the shelter environment could be carried into your own home where your pets may be infected. All pets from the Fitchburg Animal Shelter are fully vaccinated, spayed and neutered. Talk to the shelter manager about recommended quarantine periods for new foster pets, to keep your own pets safe!
Know Your Limits
Does your homeowners insurance have any breed restrictions? Do you have time to devote to a foster pet while giving your own pets the attention and care they need?
What kind of behavior problems are you comfortable dealing with – counter surfing, pulling on leash, jumping when greeting, inappropriate elimination, separation anxiety, barking, reactivity?
Don’t accept a foster with behavior problems beyond your experience and knowledge.
What kind of health problems are you willing to deal with? Medicating the dog frequently? Incontinence? Digestive disorders? Special dietary needs? Are you willing to provide the husbandry needed to keep this dog well-groomed and sanitary? Do you require a foster dog that
is safe around small children or animals?
Again, congratulations on your decision to start fostering. There is nothing more rewarding.
Good luck, and happy fostering!