We believe fostering pets is one of the best ways to give back to the community and help creatures in need. However, there are many misunderstandings people often have about fostering pets. To provide a better understanding of the commitment, we have listed what fostering a pet is NOT:
- Fostering is not a way to “try on” a pet for size. Yes, becoming a foster parent to a pet is a good way to see if you are ready to commit fully to an animal for the duration of their life. However, the whole purpose of fostering is to treat the animal as if they are precious cargo belonging to someone else (whom you just don’t know yet), and not your guinea pig “audition” animal. Fostering is about you helping them in their hour of need, not the animal helping you solve some insecurity about how responsible of an adult you may be.
- It is not a way to give you a free ride or help you skip out on responsible pet-parenting. Some people believe it is a quick and easy way to get a free dog or cat, with free healthcare and tax-deductible supplies! The financial support is meant to incentivize temporary animal care, and open up homes that would otherwise be unable to financially offer support.
- Pet fostering does not have to be a roller coaster of emotional attachment and loss. People fear that they will become too attached, and then feel devastated to lose the animal they have been caring for. This reflects a faulty mentality about the fostering process. Good foster parents do not see the animal as “theirs” at all; but rather the pet of another person. It is no different from pet sitting your neighbor’s Persian, you might enjoy playing with Princess, but you know in a few weeks her owner will be back to claim her. This kind of perspective does two things: it protects the foster parent’s heart from getting too attached to an animal they will lose, and it helps keep the “foster-spot” in their home open. If parents fell in love with EVERY pet they foster, and chose to adopt them, there would be no more room for them to bring another desperate foster animal in.
- Fostering is not easy. It will be challenging, time-consuming, frustrating and emotionally draining at times. You might have to spend hours bottle-feeding kitties, bathing wounds, cleaning up after an older dog with incontinence, or working on obedience training with a rescue pup. But one thing is certain, it will be rewarding.
Genuinely Good Reasons Not to Foster
Shelters and rescue homes want their needy animals to be placed in loving environments where they will get the care and support they need. While most individuals are able to squeeze an animals into their lives pretty seamlessly, there are instances where fostering a pet may not be a good idea. Here are a few examples:
If you are never home. People that travel frequently for work, or have to be away from home for long hours of the day, may not be prepared to foster. Many of the dogs and cats who need foster homes require attentive care, behavioral training, hand-feeding, or are recovering from injuries. This means that supervision and time investment must be available to them even if it is only for a few hours per day.
If you or a family member or child are allergic to pets, or has a debilitating illness or disability. If the quality of care you may be providing your pet with would in any way be hampered due to your health or incapacity, then fostering would not be wise. Though you can usually control the kind of dog or cat you care for, family is your first priority and if neither your health nor the health of your children permit you to be a good pet-parent, then maybe there is a better season of life for fostering down the road.
While there might be other reasons why you would not be able to foster a pet, for the most part there are ways around most spatial and financial difficulties. But, while we do encourage people to make room in their homes and hearts for needy animals, it is vitally important that the individual realizes everything that fostering a pet entails, as well as all that fostering is not.