Besides adopting, volunteering, and donating money, fostering animals is an essential element to helping animals who come through our shelter doors. Our foster parents are among the best in the Central Valley! They help alleviate overcrowding and provide temporary homes to dogs and cats who are too young to be adopted, recovering from surgery, injury, or illness, and those who endure anxiety and kennel stress.
There are certain factors to consider before you foster a dog. If you are considering becoming a foster parent but aren’t sure what the task entails, we’ve put together this guide so you have a full understanding before you take on this admirable service
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the most important things to consider before you foster a dog.
The 7 Most Important Things to Consider Before You Foster a Dog
1. Home Environment
We always want to make sure that foster homes are animal friendly. White rugs and couches and homes with lots of valuable/breakable items may not be ideal, especially when you have a rambunctious puppy that might not be potty trained.
If you have other animals, there needs to be a separate space for your foster dog, especially during a quarantine period. (See “Existing Pets” below for quarantine information.) There also needs to be a place outdoors for exercise.
It’s also important to check-in with other household members—roommates, spouses, or children—to ensure they’re open to having a foster dog in the house and will abide by any rules necessary.
Many foster dogs come from less-than-ideal situations: some are very young, some are recovering from surgery, and others need additional socialization. As you can imagine, a foster care dog with any of these issues will need some extra love, attention, and patience. All of this amounts to one factor: time.
And while it isn’t required, there is often the opportunity to bring them to an offsite location like PetSmart for adoption days. There may also be the need to return them to the CCSPCA for checkups, routine care, or post-surgical care. (This also necessitates consistent, reliable transportation.)
You’ll also need to consider the length of placement. The majority of our placements are under 4 weeks, but some animals require longer stays—sometimes up to 3 months. We always provide an estimated placement time, but unforeseen circumstances can cause longer or shorter stays. Keep this in mind when you arrange your vacations and weekend travels!
3. Existing Pets
If you already have pets in the home, you’ll need to take them into consideration prior to bringing home another animal. Typically we recommend a minimum 14-day quarantine period of your foster animal to prevent spreading illness. Although all foster dogs are given a thorough examination by our veterinary staff, there is always the possibility that your foster may become ill after placement due to an undetectable ailment.
Some foster animals may have fleas or intestinal parasites. While we provide for these conditions, they can take a while to eradicate. Exposure to your own pets could be detrimental.
Some foster parents choose to keep their own pets separate, not only for the medical reasons as noted above, but for emotional reasons. It’s possible that your existing pets may not enjoy strangers in their domain, which might cause them to act hostile. Only you can judge the situation and deem whether total quarantine is necessary or not.
As a foster parent, you will be supplying the basics to your foster dog, including food and water, puppy pads (if needed), crates, and toys. These items do not have to be new. In fact, our foster parents often wash and recycle bedding and toys in between dog and puppy placements.
CCSPCA provides all routine medical care/medication and will provide a discount for any medication for pets that are specifically being fostered-to-adopt.
5. Special Needs
We’ve spent time discussing the basics of how to prepare and care for your foster dogs and puppies. But what if the dog you’re fostering has special needs? Some of our dogs require extra attention due to:
Recovery from Illness: If a dog or puppy has a contagious illness, they’re not suitable to be at our shelter. This includes upper respiratory illnesses, skin conditions, and intestinal parasites, which require frequent rechecks by our veterinarian. You will likely have to give your foster dog medication(s), too.
Underweight: Underweight animals may require a special diet and a keen eye to watch for any signs of illness. With younger puppies, there may be the need to potty train or continuing to potty train.
Recovery from Surgery: Many dogs that come into our care have severe injuries from accident or abuse. In these cases, our trusted veterinary staff does all they can to save the dog from suffering. Dogs recovering from surgery will have limited mobility, may need bandage changes and regular administration of medication(s), as well as regular veterinary re-checks.
In addition to preparedness for the special needs or issues some foster dogs may have, you will certainly need a fair amount of patience for puppies, elderly dogs, or victims of neglect and/or abuse.
Younger dogs may not be fully potty trained, which will require persistence and patience on your part to help them master this process.
Puppies—as well as older unsocialized dogs—may also need some basic obedience training. Teaching simple commands such as sit and stay, helping to deter biting and nipping, and leash training are vital to their development.
Neglected and abused dogs might need some extra love and cuddle time. They may be resistant at first, which is why persistence and patience are…again…valuable assets to have.
7. Emotional Attachment
If we’re being honest, many foster parents fall in love with their adorable foster dogs and become attached. While it isn’t uncommon to be sad and cry the first time you return your foster for adoption, most foster parents say it gets easier over time.
However, if the emotional burden is too much to handle, you might want to take more time to consider volunteering as a foster parent. Please think long and hard about fostering if you think you will not be able to relinquish your foster dog when the time comes. Alternately, think about adopting instead. We certainly have plenty of puppies and dogs available for full-time loving homes. Check out our Adopt A Dog page to see the wonderful dogs currently up for adoption!
The Foster Care Program at CCSPCA
In order to help prevent overcrowding at our Adoption Center, we have an awesome Foster Care Program. Approved foster parents provide temporary care in their home to animals from our shelter until they’re ready to find their permanent homes.
Fostering opportunities can last anywhere between two weeks to several months. CCSPCA provides all routine veterinary care and lots of support to our foster parent volunteers. All we ask in return is that you dedicate the time, energy, love, and support that these rescued canines need and deserve.
To become a foster parent or to make a donation to our Foster Care Program, please call (559) 233-7722, extension 118. You can also send an email to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or download the foster care application here.