Fostering a Pet: Frequently Asked Questions

Do you want to welcome a pet into your home but are unsure if you are ready to make a long-term commitment? Fostering could be the perfect solution. We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to providing foster care to animals that need it most.

1. What’s the difference between fostering and adopting, and how should I choose?

While adopting a dog or a cat is a full-time commitment that should last throughout the animal’s lifetime, fostering is an opportunity to provide temporary care for a pet when he needs it most. According to the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, living in a shelter with constant barking can cause stress to many animals. For their health, it is better to be raised in foster homes as it can easily improve an animal’s disposition. If you have the time and energy to care for a pet, but are not ready to make a lifetime commitment, fostering may be a wonderful way to bring a furry friend into your life for a short period of time.

2. How long does fostering last?

A fostering period can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Foster length varies depending on the age and breed of an animal. Some pets take longer to be adopted than others and some have special needs that require additional consideration on the part of potential adopters. Thus, be prepared to foster your pet for at least six months, although in most cases it will be much shorter, and in rare cases longer. You should also speak with your shelter or rescue organization about any time restrictions you may have.

3. What’s the financial commitment for fostering a pet?

In most cases, nothing! Nearly all shelters or rescue organizations will pay for the main necessities of pet fostering, i.e. food, bedding, collars, crates, vet visits, etc. Some even offer free training courses for pets and foster parents. Before becoming a foster parent be sure to ask your shelter or rescue organization what your specific financial responsibilities will be, as each organization varies slightly.

4. Can I give my foster pet a new name?

Almost all shelter animals will come with some kind of a name picked by their previous owners or by staff at the shelter or rescue organization. If a pet has had his name for many years but you’re set on changing it to something you like, try choosing a name that starts with the same letter and has the same number of syllables. Another trick is adding your chosen name at the end of his, so “Buddy” could become “Buddy Copper” for a while until finally you drop off the first half and he starts answering to your chosen name.

5. Can I just play with my pet or do I have to teach him things too?

While fostering can be immensely enjoyable, it does require work.
Becoming a foster parent means you may be asked to encourage your foster pet to improve basic training or behavioral issues he may have picked up previously. Some animals will need to be housetrained. Similar to adoption, the specific training responsibilities of foster parents will vary depending on the pet’s age and previous living environments.

6. I work full-time. Can I still foster?

Yes. Many pet owners work full-time and are fully able to care for their pets. Be sure to tell the shelter or rescue organization staff what kind of schedule and supervision you can afford to give your foster pet and they will do their best to find you the best match. In general, animals need more sleep than humans. So while you are at work, your foster pet will be able to catch up on some much needed rest after spending time in an over-stimulating shelter.

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