Many dogs and cats do poorly in a shelter setting. The constant loud barking and meowing combined with the overpowering odors can be too much for a suddenly homeless pet. Some more sensitive animals may stop eating. To make matters worse, even the nicest shelters can be cold during winter. For homeless pets — especially nervous or easily stressed ones — getting out of an often-chaotic shelter and into a foster home can be a necessity, rather than a nicety.
Today, rescues are at capacity and shelters are overflowing with homeless dogs and cats. It's at no fault of their own. Inflation and rising costs are leaving well-meaning owners with little opportunity to afford major vet bills, and many give up their beloved pets out of desperation. If this is a cause that's near and dear to your heart, we suggest giving fostering a try!
What is fostering a pet?
What is fostering a pet? It's a way for a dog or cat to stay in a home — even if the person who has offered the animal a place to live isn't ready to adopt a family member. People foster rather than adopt for numerous reasons. For instance, the foster owner may already have pets, but would like to help an animal in desperate need. Still, other people foster to see if owning a pet is right for them.
Temporary pet fostering has numerous advantages. For instance, you can:
Find out if you have the necessary time to take care of a pet
See if a particular pet is right for your family dynamics
Determine if there are any allergies or other issues in your family that might make pet ownership a problem
It's often said that each pet you foster saves two lives - that of your foster dog or cat, and the life of a pet that now can be taken in by the shelter due to the vacancy.
Should you fall in love with your house guest, most shelters or rescues will move you to the top of the list of potential adopters for your foster pet.
What are some fostering need-to-knows?
Are you interested in giving a homeless animal a warm and safe place to live this winter? Then read these tips for fostering pets in need:
Choose a safe space for your foster: When your foster first enters your home, it's best to restrict the animal’s movements to certain rooms or areas until you get to know it better (and vice versa). This is for the safety of your foster as well as your home. For instance, some individuals will use baby gates to limit a dog to their kitchen. It's especially important to crate or restrict a pet's movement until you know whether it is housebroken and/or free of destructive behaviors, such as chewing.
Another important reason to impede a pet's movements when you start fostering? A skittish pet could suddenly bolt through an open door. Once on the loose, it can be extremely difficult to track a frightened dog or cat.
Walking your foster in frigid conditions: Unlike cats, a foster dog will need to be outside to go to the bathroom or exercise. In wintertime, this often means venturing into icy or snowy conditions. Bitter temperatures may be too much for some short-haired breeds. Bundle them up in a cozy sweater before venturing outdoors. Also, if it's been snowing or icy, clean your pet's paws of any salt or ice melt that may have been used. De-icing agents can irritate an animal's paws — and some are toxic. Make sure your pet can't lick them off its paws.
Experienced foster parents also recommend using a double-leash for a nervous or skittish dog. A frightened dog can quickly escape a harness or collar and dash. With a slip lead or well-fitting harness with a double-leash, you can usually prevent a dog from running away.
Holiday functions: The holidays can be a fun — but overwhelming — time for a new foster. Parties and visiting strangers may cause anxiety for some cats and dogs. For their safety, it is best to keep them crated or confined to one room during any festivities.
Temporary pet fostering is good for the pet — and you
Fostering a pet during winter is an act of kindness that will benefit you and the dog or cat. The foster animal will get a warm and loving place to live while waiting for a permanent home. You'll get a friend with which to spend those long, cold winter days. Plus, having a pet in your home can positively affect your physical and mental well-being. We hope the aforementioned has provided some excellent insight as to whether or not fostering a pet is right for you.
Ready to start the process? Find a shelter or foster program near you.