Did you ever wonder how you could help volunteer at an animal shelter? Have you wanted to contribute in some way to taking care of the countless abandoned dogs in our society? Did you ever want to own a dog but don’t have the time to do so? Fostering a shelter dog is the solution.
To foster a dog means to give him or her a temporary home. As a foster parent, you will house, train, feed, groom, socialize, nurture and LOVE your pet. Many abandoned dogs crave love, attention and belly rubs. Dogs naturally long to be a part of a family (or pack) and they want to please you. They will be excited to be a part of yours.
How long is a commitment to foster? It can be for a weekend, a week, or several months. The length of time depends on what you can offer and is also based on the needs of the dog. Puppies tend to get placed in a permanent home quicker than older dogs. Ill or infirmed dogs will most likely need a temporary home until they are healthy and some dogs need to be socialized and nurtured so they can be placed with a family. The timetable is hard to predict and each situation is different. You and the shelter will work together to find a pet that will work with your situation.
Before you commit to fostering a dog, consider your lifestyle and ask yourself if a dog will fit into it, even if it is just temporary. Most kids love dogs, but some can be terrified of them or allergic. If you have other pets, think about if they are receptive to having another animal in their territory. Also, take into consideration your job. Many people find that fostering a pet is ideal because they travel for work and they can schedule their visitor when they have time. Lastly, make sure your home or apartment is conducive to having a dog living there.
Once you have decided to foster, contact a shelter near you. The website, http://www.petfinder.com, is a wealth of information that can help you find a shelter in your area, as is the http://www.humanesociety.org. You can also check your phone directory, newspaper, or city clerk’s office among other places to help find one.
Most shelters have a training program and a screening process to make sure that you are educated on what to expect from your new addition. During this time, feel free to ask all of your questions and share any concerns about your new adventure. The more you know, the easier it will be for you and your pet. Often, the shelter will select the dog for you. If you have certain restrictions they will work wit you. Some shelters provide food, vet care, leashes, collars, and toys, but some do not. As a foster parent, you will incur some financial expenses. The amount will vary with each situation.
What if you fall in love with your foster dog and want to keep him or her? This happens frequently. In most cases you will be able to adopt your pet and live happily ever after. You still need to go through the shelter’s adoption process so contact them as soon as you make your decision. If you have a friend or family member that wants to adopt your dog, they too, need to go through the shelter. Be sure to follow the rules and regulations.
If you do not plan on keeping your foster dog, be prepared to return him or her. This is especially important for young children who may not understand the arrangement. Saying good-bye is never easy but take comfort in knowing you helped a lonely, abandoned dog get a new life. There’s another one just waiting for you, patiently, at the shelter, to be welcomed into your home.