Choosing to foster animals in need offers many wonderful benefits for both the animals and for us. Fostering animals is a truly incredible experience and the benefits animals get from living in a warm, safe home as opposed to simply existing in a shelter are huge.
*As I write this article, I am sitting at my computer with a seven week old baby foster rabbit, named Cotton-ball asleep on my lap.
If you are looking to adopt an animal, but still not quite sure whether you are up for the responsibility of taking on a pet, or you are unsure as to which pet would be best for you and your family, then fostering various different animals, offers you the chance to try before you buy, so to speak.
The photo on the left is of Ruby the guinea pig and her two baby boys, Speedy and Zippy.
We began fostering Ruby and her brother Luigi through the RSPCA foster program, back in July 2014. We fostered her throughout her pregnancy and birth of her two little boys. We then decided to adopt her, as she really was the perfect pet for our family. Then a few months later we adopted her new herd mates Maddy and little Sasha from the Chuffnut Cavies Sanctuary.
How To Become An Animal Foster Carer
There are many animal shelters and plenty of animal rescue groups all over the world that will gladly give you the opportunity to foster different types of animals in need.
- If you want to become an animal foster carer you first need to decide on which species of animals you are able to foster.
- Now start researching and making a list of the various animal shelters and rescue organizations in the city in which you live in.
- Then start approaching your choice of shelters and rescues groups. Commonly the first step you will have to go through is to fill in and submit a detailed questionnaire online to the shelter or group so they can determine whether your lifestyle and your living conditions are suitable for fostering animals.
- If your submission is accepted you may be asked to attend a specialized animal foster carer training session. I did a basic Foster Carer Training Course at the RSPCA Burwood, that covered the care needs of dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs only. This course was for one evening only, but if you are wanting to become a specialized foster carer; e.g for Australian Wildlife Rescue, then these courses are a lot longer and more extensive.
Once your submission is complete and the shelter or rescue group feel you are suitable, they will then contact you when an animal needing your fostering becomes available.
Things To Take Into Consideration Before Fostering An Animal
- You may have to dip into your pocket. While some well-funded shelters like the RSPCA will provide you with your foster animal’s food, bedding and bowls, the smaller independent shelters often can’t afford to do this and so you may be required to outlay for the food etc. * Nearly always vet care if funded by the shelters no matter how small.
- Will have the time to devote to your foster animals? Fostering an animal or numerous animals, requires spare time. You may be required to bring your foster animal(s) in for regular vet check-ups; e.g. with very young animals you will need to bring them into see the shelter’s vet every couple of weeks for weighing, worming, vaccinations and also de-sexing . Animals who have had an operation often require daily medication and wound maintenance, as well as regular vet checks. Dogs that are being rehabilitated from Puppy Mills require an incredible amount of dedication and time spent patiently winning over their trust and building up their shattered confidence.
- Are you pregnant or do you have babies or young children in the house? If so fostering a dog that you don’t know can be potentially dangerous, see –Why Dogs Bite Children – Learn How To Keep Your Kids Safe Around Dogs and fostering a cat is also not a great idea, see – The Real Dangers Of Cats Around Babies & Pregnant Women – How To Avoid Toxoplasmosis, Accidental Scratches & Bites and Unintentional Smothering.
Reasons To Foster Animals
Fostering Young Animals – Why Is So Important.
Giving an animal a safe and loving home when it is too young to be adopted out from a shelter is crucial for the healthy development and socialization of the animal!
A well socialized animal that has been handled a lot from a very young age and has had positive exposures to the sounds, smells and sights of daily human life, has a much greater chance of being adopted into a forever home.
Puppies and kittens adopted straight out of an animal shelter and who have not had the positive experiences of being in a foster home, will often display unwanted behaviours. These young animals all too often end up back in a pound after these behaviours can no longer be tolerated.
Our family started fostering Lulu and her 3 kittens when they were just starting to open their eyes at 11 days old. Not only was it a wonderful experience for our family to watch these kittens develop, but the kittens were handled all the time and were exposed to loud noises and objects; e.g. the vacuum cleaner, kids running around etc, so by the time they were ready to get de-sexed and go up for adoption, they were very happy, sociable and well- adjusted cats and all 3 quickly got adopted. Unfortunately their mother Lulu remained at the RSCPA for many more months awaiting adoption. Whilst Lulu was incredibly gentle, she was also very skittish and not a people person, it was clear to me that her time as a young kitten had not been a positive one and this fearfulness was ingrained in her. For Lulu it would take a special person and lots of time to win over her trust.
Shelter Animals That Need Extra Care Do Better In A Foster Home
- Nursing Sick Animals – Nurturing and looking after an animal who is recovering from illness or surgery until it is well enough to be put up for adoption, is truly a wonderful and heartwarming thing to do, but more importantly it is incredibly healing for that animal to be in a home with people that can truly look after it as opposed to remaining isolated in a small cage in a shelter.
- Rehabilitating Abused Animals -Taking into your care, a formerly abused, neglected and frightened animal and being able to provide it with a nurturing, safe environment as well as plenty of love, company and also, but very importantly, gently, positive training, will be giving this animal the best possible chance of becoming a happy, confident and balanced animal.
Foster carers play a huge roll in the rehabilitation of tormented animals and it is thanks to their commitment that these animals are healed enough, both physically and emotionally, to then be able to become a candidate for adoption. This takes dedication and work, but it is an incredibly special experience and makes you feel on top of the world!
Fostering Animals Allows You To Have Animals When You Can’t Financially Afford A Pet.
Not everyone is able to afford the expenses that come with owning an animal. Fostering allows animals lovers to have pets and help animals in need but without the steep costs.
Fostering for an established organization such as the RSPCA means that they will supply you with all the animals needs and vet care.
Important – Remember If you foster for some of the smaller, independent animal rescue groups, most will also cover vet bills and food, but not all, so be sure to ask, if you are not willing or able to absorb some expenses.
Fostering Animals Is A Great Way To See If Your Children Are Ready For A Pet.
My advice to parents thinking of getting their children a pet is – foster an animal for at least a 3 month period. This will give you and your children ample opportunity to see if they are committed to their promises of cleaning, feeding, playing and exercising a pet, on a daily basis.
Too many animals are neglected in their own well-meaning homes after being bought as a gift for a child.
Fostering Gives You The Opportunity to Find Out If You Realistically Have Time For A Pet
Fostering will give you a very good dose of reality as to how much work, time and commitment bringing a pet into your life takes.
Fostering will give you and your family a much better understanding about the daily work required in owning a pet, no matter how small.
Also please take the time to read my other article – Choosing The Right Pet For Your Family
Fostering Animals Gives You The Opportunity To Find Out Whether You Have Pet Allergies.
Fostering animals also gives you the chance to see if you suffer from any pet allergies before you decide to adopt.
While this isn’t a fool-proof method to determine allergies (allergies can develop at anytime in your life and you can live with say a cat for years before becoming allergic), it does cut the risk down significantly of the heart-wrenching decision of having to re-home your much loved pet.
If you suspect allergies to a certain animal, then it is wise to get medically tested via a blood test, or skin-prick test before making any hair and fast decisions on fostering or adopting an animal. Your allergy may turn out to not be directly related to the animal in question, but perhaps to the grass it likes to roll in.
Fostering Gives You A Chance To Live With Various Animals Before Adopting The Right Animal For You,
Unfortunately adopting an animal without a decent trial period living with that animal doesn’t always work out, especially if you have young children.
Not all animals are going to fit in well, or feel comfortable in the living environment you bring them into and with fostering you don’t have to feel guilty when it isn’t a perfect match.
The majority of shelters and animal rescue groups will almost always give you first dibs on adopting the animal that you have been fostering . They realize the benefits – your foster animal knows you and is already happy with you!
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Little Pierre was a sweet but highly fearful dog.
We adopted a little Pierre (pictured) back in 2012, but sadly we had to give Pierre back to the rescue group we adopted him from just four weeks later. The day after we adopted him, Pierre started showing fear aggression to strangers, with growling and nipping. We had Pierre’s rescue group trainer come out, Belinda and did all she advised. (See her article – Why Dogs Bite Children – Learn How To Keep Your Kids Safe Around Dogs), but when Pierre lunged to attack my 5 year old daughter, while she was talking to him gently and trying to calm him down when a man he didn’t know entered out home, we knew it wasn’t safe to have him around our own young children or visiting children. Thankfully Pierre now lives happily with his adopted new owners and lots of other dogs, which helps keep him feeling secure, on would you believe a Pet Resort!
You might also enjoy my other articles in my pet section