It is common to hear people say things like “I bought a dog” or “I want to adopt a cat” but fostering an animal is often an unfamiliar concept. Usually when we think of foster care, children come to mind instead of pets. In this blog we will discuss what it means to foster an animal, and what kinds of pets would be eligible for foster home care.

What is Pet Fostering?

Fostering a dog or a cat is similar to fostering a child, in that it is an agreement by the foster parents to care for a pet as if it is their own, without having the long-term ownership responsibilities. Foster dogs and cats are homeless, unclaimed animals that have been picked up by rescue homes or shelters. A prospective foster parent can visit one such shelter, and fill out an application to care for a pet. The staff on site and the foster parent will come to terms about the length of the relationship, but usually most people agree to foster a dog until a “forever home” can be found for him. However, there are cases in which an individual can only care for a pet for a few weeks at a time. In such a scenario, the rescue home would try to pair the person with a litter of puppies or kittens that are 6 weeks old, and in a few weeks would be an adoptable age. Sometimes the foster parent agrees to cover any veterinary bills, but often these will be paid for by the shelter associated with the dog, provided that the foster parent takes them to a vet of the shelter’s preference.

Reasons a Pet Would Need Fostering

There are many reasons why a dog might need to be moved to a foster home. However, the most common reasons are that the shelter might be overcrowded with animals, underfunded, or have insufficient staff to support their number of inmates. Other reasons include:

  • Orphaned dogs and cats or pets which might be too young to adopt. (I.E. if someone found abandoned newborn kittens or puppies that would need a safe place to grow until they are at an adoptable age.)
  • If the pet is recovering from an illness, injury or surgery. Overcrowding is especially stressful for dogs or cats who are trying to convalesce while being surrounded by numerous other animals in a noisy, shared environment frequented daily with visitors.
  • If the pet is having extreme anxiety or showing signs of stress. Since these could become potentially threatening behaviors, most rescue workers determine that it would be in the animal’s best interest to be removed to a more peaceful place.
  • When a dog or a cat was born on the streets, or has never had sustained human contact, fostering them is a great way to help socialize an animal, and teach them to trust humans.

The bottom line is, the more people that offer to foster pets, the more room there will be in shelters hoping to bring animals off the streets, or save them from being euthanized. If you are not able to fully commit to adopting a pet, here are some reasons why you should foster them!