The situations are varied, but rest assured we’ll always match the needs of the animals with your experience, comfort level, and home environment.
Underage kittens and puppies not yet ready for adoption: Fear not, agreeing to foster underage kittens or puppies does not mean bottle-feeding a huge litter every two hours for weeks. Our underage animals needing temporary foster care are usually weaned and eating on their own, and range anywhere from just one kitten/puppy, to a litter. Large litters of 5 or more are usually split between multiple providers so no one provider is overwhelmed. Underage animals simply need a place to fatten up and stay healthily for a period of about 1-4 weeks, dependent upon how old they are when they go into foster, to become of age/weight for altering.
Queens (mama cats) with kittens: Sounds like a lot to take on, but a nursing queen and her kittens are usually very easy because she really does all work! Mama will feed, groom and help to properly socialize her kittens, making your job as easy as feeding/watering mama, and providing a clean litter box and love until the kittens are weaned and of age/weight for altering.
Single adult cats: Kittens may be the most prevalent, but don't forget about all of the single adult cats! Year-round, we always need fosters to help care for adult cats if they come down with URI, when we run low on cage space, or when they have been here long enough to become cage-stressed and just need a break from the shelter.
Dogs needing behavior modification: Frequently we take in wonderful dogs who are just a little too shy to be made available for adoption right off the bat. These are dogs who just need some time out of the shelter in a more stable, less stressful environment where they can be exposed to new people and situations where they can learn to better trust people and gain confidence. In other cases, it may be a dog with mild food/object passions issues or needing basic obedience training. Socialization or training in foster care will help ensure they make a good companion for a prospective adopter, and that their adoption is a permanent one.
Animals needing medical recovery: These can be ill animals, usually cats with URI or dogs with kennel cough. We also frequently take in animals who have been hit by cars or have other injuries requiring they recuperate outside of the shelter with restricted/monitored activity. We often also have animals who just need to recover from simple spay/neuter surgery in a home environment. Fostering sick or injured animals may at times require foster providers to administer simple oral medications, and at times, subcutaneous fluids (it's easy, honest!)
Those who have been here for a while and need a break – or we need to free up cage space: There are instances, especially with dogs, when the animal has been here for a while and is getting overlooked by adopters and would benefit from a break from the shelter. Often a vacation from the shelter extends their “adoptability” by relieving stress which helps to keep them mentally/emotionally sound. As well, there is often need to get long-timers into foster in order to free up cage space. In these instances, getting an animal out to foster for just two or three days can make the all the difference.
The shelter will provide all the basic needs of food, bedding, cat litter, toys medications, towels, veterinary care etc., the animal(s) may require during their stay in foster care. The only expenses you would incur would be for special toys or other items you may choose to purchase on your own.
WHAT IS THE TIME COMMITMENT?
Time commitment depends on each animal's situation or condition. For underage kittens/puppies, this could be 1-4 weeks depending on their current age. Kittens need to be at least 2.2 lbs. to undergo spay/neuter surgery and puppies at least 8 weeks of age, and at that point, they can be brought back to the shelter and placed for adoption. Sick or injured animals vary from a few days to 2 months or so, dependent upon specific medical condition.
CAN I FOSTER EVEN IF I WORK FULL-TIME?
YES! Most animals going into foster care do not require constant monitoring; they just need a safe and loving temporary place to thrive.
WHAT TYPE OF SPACE DO I NEED AT HOME?
Generally, a spare bedroom, bathroom, laundry room, or even space in a temperature-controlled garage (secure from toxins) will do. While it is usually fine for your animals to interact with healthy fosters, depending in their condition, you should have the ability to keep fosters separate from your pets, if needed. Your pets must also be spayed/neutered and vaccinated prior to taking in a foster animal.