The Journey to a “Furever” Home

What’s involved in providing a foster home for a homeless pet?

When animals are given up to rescue organizations, usually the ultimate goal is to find permanent homes for them. But a surrendered pet is not always immediately ready to be adopted; he may need some transition time, rehabilitation, or additional training. That is why the foster system in animal rescue is so crucial. Caring, selfless volunteers welcome these discarded pets into their homes and provide for their care for however long it takes for them to be ready for a forever home. Then these amazing people help promote the pet, assess the potential adoptive family to ensure a good fit, and assist in the transition to his new life. 

Rescue organizations are always in need of foster homes for surrendered animals. If you are an animal lover, consider looking into this important way to help. Fostering a pet can be a very rewarding experience, and it literally saves a life. 

If you think you might be interested, consider everything very carefully. It takes a lot of commitment, patience, love, and time. Evaluate your living situation, your lifestyle, and know your limitations and boundaries. Are you willing to be patient while a new dog adapts to their temporary digs? Are your family members on board with this potential endeavor? Some rescues will supply foster volunteers with reimbursements, others will not. Can you afford vet bills, food, grooming, etc. to help out pets in need? 

There are many dogs in need of love out there, some with more issues than others. Are you part of a townhome community or live in a condo? Then fostering a dog who persistently barks and howls because of separation distress may not be a good foster match for you. Do you have little kids in your family? Then you may want to limit yourself to fostering dogs who have been socialized and do well with children. Do you have cats, livestock, or other dogs in the home? Then make sure you are either willing to manage and separate the animals if need be, or limit yourself to animals who have a history of adapting to other pets. 

Consider if you would like to help on a short term basis, or are willing to provide a home for a pet for a longer period of time. Some pets who enter rescue just need a place to crash for the weekend, whereas others need a longer term commitment and more care before they are ready to be adopted. 

Consider your emotions, as well as those of your family, particularly children. Will it be hard to live with and bond with a pet that you will eventually be separated from when they are permanently adopted? Personally, I could handle a dog visiting for a few days, but after a week, it would tear me apart to think of them leaving. So, know your lifestyle, know your limitations, and know your boundaries. 

In many cases, it is possible to permanently adopt your foster pet if you fall in love with them. Some rescues and shelters offer foster-to-adopt programs where you can “test drive” a pet to ensure they are a good fit for your lifestyle prior to making the commitment of permanent adoption. This can be an excellent option for inexperienced pet owners. 

If you are not sure whether fostering is the right way for you to help homeless pets, go ahead and give it a try! Adoption coordinators and other rescue members are eager to help educate potential foster homes, facilitate the process, and provide support. 

Our area is full of needy animals looking for a place to bunk down before going to a forever home. Check out Paws for Seniors, The Chance Foundation, Fauquier SPCA, and Homeward Trails to learn more about foster or volunteer opportunities. Your community, the pets in need, and your heart will be full of gratitude. 

Charlotte Wagner Harvey
About Charlotte Wagner Harvey 21 Articles
Charlotte Wagner Harvey holds a Bachelors of Science with honors in Animal Management from the University of Essex with a special interest in behavior. As a dog trainer and the owner of K9ology in Warrenton, she helps dog owners and dogs find common ground to establish a peaceful life together. Her core tenets: there are no shortcuts, it is hard, and do it right or don’t do it at all. She lives in Rappahannock County with her husband and a farm full of animals including horses, chickens, cats, and, of course, dogs.

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