Steps to Becoming a Foster Parent for Pets

September 9, 2015

Fostering an animal who needs guidance and love is rewarding. You’re literally saving a life when you offer support and structure for an animal in need.  Volunteer foster parents need to have the desire, of course, but should also consider the responsibilities that come with the rewards.

Before you decide to foster, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does your home need any modification?  Think about what needs your chosen animal may have.  Is there enough space?  Do your family members or other pets have any allergies or intolerances that may be an issue?  Is your home safe for a healthy animal of your choice?
  • What kind of foster do you want?  Some people are amazing at behavioral training, some do better with older or physically diminished animals, and some would be best at just offering love and shelter.  Be honest with yourself about what you and your family can handle.
  • Will your insurance cover it?  In the case of large dogs, for instance, an extra insurance rider may be required to protect you from liability, even if the dog hasn’t been a behavioral risk previously.  Double-check your homeowner’s policy.
  • How much financial risk can you assume?  How much you’re responsible for is largely up to the organization through which you’re fostering.  Items like vet bills and ID tags are sometimes covered; additional food or litter may not.  Find out ahead of time what you may have to cover to avoid any surprises.
  • Do you have the time?  Because many fosters have special needs, they can require a bit more love and attention than other pets.  Give some thought to how much time you have for training and other needs before you decide.
  • How good are you at letting go?  Often, the hardest part of being a foster family is having to say goodbye when an adoption goes through.  The beautiful thing about fostering is that it’s temporary.  The worst thing about it is also that it’s temporary.  Make sure you and your family are able to let go when the time comes.

When you’re comfortable with your answers, the application process for fostering is outlined on most organizations’ websites or can be explained by staff volunteer coordinators.  There’s generally a home visit, a check of your references, and an agreement to be signed.

Once approved, it’s just a matter of waiting for an animal that needs your love and care.

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