One of the most effective ways shelters and rescue operations handle overcrowding is through temporary foster care until a forever home can be found. A dog may stay with a foster short term (a few days or weeks) or even longer term (months to a year). This in-between fostering provides a literal grace period for dogs who might otherwise face euthanasia.
This isn’t the only reason that foster care benefits shelter pups. Spending time in foster care allows pups a place to rest and relax and get out of the noisy stressful shelter. Another great benefit is that foster parents really get to know these pups and can help be their voice and advocate. Remember Tinkerbell? This dramatic little pup found the perfect home thanks to the dedication and superior writing skills of her foster.
In a foster home, a dog can work through fears and work on their manners. Learning how to properly walk on a leash, go to the bathroom outside and interact with people and other dogs (or cats). This will give the dog a head start when transitioning to a forever family.
Finally, easy to spread diseases like kennel cough can run rampant through the shelter and being stressed and sick makes dogs less likely to get adopted and more likely to develop more severe diseases or complications. Having a clean and safe foster home prevents this from happening in the first place!
So, how do you know if fostering might be right for you? Here are 8 clues it might be time to give it a try!
Finding a forever home for your foster is your job too. Utilize your social network and social media to spread the word and help find the right home for your foster friend. Bonus: if you place the dog with one of your friends, you have guaranteed visitation rights!
Whether you’re an experienced foster or just ready to bring home a pup, adoption might be the right choice for you.
Remember that if you bring the dog perminantly into your home, that is potentially one less spot available for future fosters. That said, sometimes you meet the perfect dog and fall in love.
You’re already ahead of the game because you and the pup have already had a chance to really get to know each other in a low pressure environment. The term "foster failure" was coined just for this situation and for the right dog and family pairing – its something shelters and rescues love to see!
Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions and be firm about your non-negotiables. Like we talked about when deciding to foster if it’s important to you that the dog is a certain age, generally healthy or already house trained it’s okay to speak up.
Dogs who are not matched well risk being returned to the shelter. If you want a dog that is between 2 and 4 years old, under 50 pounds and is house trained and knows how to walk on a leash, don’t just go for the first dog you meet. Especially if that dog doesn’t meet most of your criteria.
If you’re ready to take the next step toward fostering or adopting a dog, get in touch with a local shelter and find out about their particular needs. Good communication with the shelter is key to everyone’s happiness, including the dog, so be sure to ask detailed questions about potential foster dogs or those available for adoption and protocol for the entire process. Here’s a great list of 20 questions to get you started.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.
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