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Do you Foster?

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  • Do you Foster?

    After a great deal of debate I'm finally edging hubby over to the yah! side (actually he spontaneously came up with the "idea" yesterday so now it's his idea and we can move forward ).


    So, who here fosters/has fostered?
    Can your offer any suggestions about caring for a foster dog/cat?
    What it's going to be like?
    Finding a shelter to work with?

    We have lots of animals, so it should be interesting! We don't have an entirely fenced yard but we do have a door that leads out into the paddocks which are fenced enough a medium sized dogs like our 2 can't get out (although a small sized goat is always finding ways too...).

    We do have young kids, they are good with dogs, but that does make me nervous. Whatever foster we take in can't come immediately into the family, we'll have to take it slow and keep them on a very supervised introduction to the kids.

    We're going to have to refuse dogs that might have a high-prey drive as well because of cats/chickens.

    Hubs original concern was that he was going to want to keep every single dog, knowing him... yeah, we might only foster 1 dog .
    We've both been dog owners all our lives, and have both done lots of obedience training.
    "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
    Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
    Need You Now Equine

  • #2
    I have fostered 4 dogs over the last year. It was a lot of work, but I love it. I have 2 kids so I have to be careful. My last foster killed one of my cats, while on a leash, it can happen that fast. So if you foster dogs but have cats that are not afraid of dogs because they were raised with dogs, that can create a problem.

    There are some excellent guidelines to follow with fostering, I will see if I can find them for you.
    Beth Davidson
    Black Dog Farm Connemaras & Sport Horses
    visit my blog: http://ponyeventer.blogspot.com


    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by pcwertb View Post
      ... My last foster killed one of my cats, while on a leash, it can happen that fast. ...
      Suddenly I'm not feeling so great about this idea . We've got 3 cats, 2 of which are quite inbred and frankly, dumb as posts. One of them got "trapped" in the chicken run yesterday with all the doors open... (I'm not joking, I had to get him after an hour). He also lets my 18 m/o sit on him...

      I would feel so terrible and guilty if the dog we brought in to foster harmed him :S.
      "For some people it's not enough to just be a horse's bum, you have to be sea biscuit's bum" -anon.
      Nes' Farm Blog ~ DesigNes.ca
      Need You Now Equine


      • #4
        I have fostered kittens and cats for about seven years. I have personal dogs, but to me, fostering dogs requires a different kind of commitment than cats. For the most part, they get adopted more quickly and it is easier to take just one of them, while with kittens, a litter is usually a requirement. My true love is cats, so I don't foster dogs because I don't want to worry about a dog who doesn't get along with cats.

        There are things to consider when you decide to foster. First, most rescues have arrangements with vets, and those vets should be fairly close to you. I once fostered for an organization whose veterinary clinic was about 30 miles away in high traffic, so I didn't ever foster for them again. Adoption requirements are different for various rescues. In our area, there are a couple of rescues that take the kittens when they are old enough to be adopted and do the adoption themselves. Others require you to attend adoption events on weekends with the foster animal. Make sure that all your resident animals are current on vaccines before bringing in a foster. Most rescues will provide food and supplies, but not all of them. If it is important that everything is provided check that out. Finally, find out what the policy is if you can no longer care for the foster.

        I find fostering to be very rewarding, but it is a big time commitment, and sometimes your heart will be broken. Good fosters are essential to rescues, so I really hope you decide to go ahead with your plans, and I applaud you checking things out first.
        Mystic Owl Sporthorses


        • #5
          Originally posted by Nes View Post
          Suddenly I'm not feeling so great about this idea . We've got 3 cats, 2 of which are quite inbred and frankly, dumb as posts. One of them got "trapped" in the chicken run yesterday with all the doors open... (I'm not joking, I had to get him after an hour). He also lets my 18 m/o sit on him...

          I would feel so terrible and guilty if the dog we brought in to foster harmed him :S.
          This is why when I fostered, I only fostered pups. My cats sound like yours LOL.. they aren't very bright and NEVER defend themselves if the dogs mess with them. In fact, if one of my dogs walks up to them, they just roll over on their back

          But, I have fostered and it's a great experience. Being that Pit Bulls are "my" breed, I fostered for a Pit Bull rescue.

          Be SURE to find a reputable rescue or shelter to foster through. I made the mistake of taking on a pup through what I thought was a good rescue (couldn't find anything negative about the woman online, etc.) and once she handed him off to me, he was mine! He came to me with kennel cough, coccidia, and was just a sick little guy. I got stuck paying all of his vet bills (she told me she'd reimburse me.. yeah right).

          Of course, who could just take this little guy back?


          Turns out, she has done this quite a few times and there is a pending lawsuit against her. She also was known for bringing in pups from rural shelters and letting them die under her care due to Parvo.. lovely.

          So after she fell off the face of the earth, I took matters into my own hands. Got him neutered, microchipped, and adopted him out to an awesome home myself.

          Lesson learned though.. always have a contract and always foster through reputable rescues!


          • #6
            I did independent foster for years. Fostered a lot of dogs. Placed them all, but it was really hard to place them, even with a ton of training.

            I quit because it was just too hard to find people who wanted an adult dog and I was tired of the medical bills that came with each foster. Worming, vaccs and some desperately needed dental work.


            • #7
              Yes. Fostering can be lots of work, very frustrating and very rewarding too. Even if you try to stay 'objective' and unemotional about the whole thing- they still worm their way into your heart.

              I fostered a dachsund/cocker spaniel mix. Very sweet, very young. He was very good with cats- but bad with trash and my clothing! Once I realized that the rescue was too overwhelmed with the current dogs they had in rescue and I had to take finding him his forever home seriously. It took me about 2 months to find him a home but I found him a perfect home....and I couldn't believe I was so sad to see him go. I had to remind myself of how many shoes he ruined.

              I think fostering is something that everyone should attempt and experience at least once.
              "I'm holding out for the $100,000 Crossrail Classic in 2012." --mem
              "With all due respect.. may I suggest you take up Croquet?" --belambi
              Proud Member of the Opinionated Redhead Club!


              • #8
                I foster, when I can, for ESRA (English Springer Rescue America) and my current Springer is a failed Foster. I have found it to be both challenging and very rewarding. I've had some I cried with sadness when they left and other times it was sheer joy. As you begin to foster, you may want to offer your home as more of a short term foster home and see how the experience works for you.


                • #9
                  I'm a kitten foster failure

                  First foster attempt, a semi-feral mommy cat with 4 kittens born under my parent's shore house - the locals were very mean to cats, poisoning them etc, and animal control not keeping up with things, so I swooped in and took them home, fully intending I was just a foster kitten momma (planned to keep & spay the feral mommy cat in my barn).

                  Ha! I am way to soft hearted with kittens and ended up with 5 new "pride members" that time.

                  Tried it once more with 2 sickly kittens left at feed store, too ugly & sick for any feedstore customers to adopt - I figured I'd take 'em home, get them well then find them homes.

                  HA! Add 2 more to the "pride".

                  I've figured out I'm not foster material, too much a softy, too much tendency to collect! I did successfully rehab one dog, but I just got lucky in that the perfect people showed up to give him a forever home, or he'd still be here too.

                  My pride is "down" to 12 now but at least everyone is fixed, healthy & happy. People still kid me about how I'm getting on finding homes for my foster kitties - I took them in a decade ago LOL.


                  • #10
                    Arcadien, I certainly understand foster failure. The first time I fostered a litter, I kept two kittens from a litter of four, and there have been quite a few others along the way. I know people who would love to foster and be wonderful at it, but they freely admit that they can't put animals they have fostered up for adoption. It is a valid concern. I can now let the kittens go, because I have limited space and if I keep them, I can't keep rescuing others. I do the best I can to find good homes for them.
                    Mystic Owl Sporthorses


                    • #11
                      Im fostering right now for the very first time.......and just what I was afraid of has happened..........Im keeping her.


                      • #12
                        Being that my roommate and I are both ex-shelter workers and now both vet techs (and both have issues saying no) I have fostered probably close to 20 dogs this past year; from demodex to recovering from surgery, old age, deafblind, to teenagers needing a dose of manners, to bottlefeeding...you name it.

                        The key is finding a shelter willing to work with you. We both have mroe than a few dogs (I have 3...all I 'foster failed' and my roommate has 2 that were foster failures, plus 3 cats between us ) so although we don't have to worry about the kid factor, potential foster pets MUST fit into our herd. Thankfully we have found with 5 dogs around our cats are pretty ballsy for lack of a better word, and chasing them just isn't really tolerated with our crew. Our shelter gives a 50% discount on food for the animal you're fostering but we generally jsut feed our own food so its less complicated.

                        How you need to be ready:
                        If you're looking at potentially adding another dog to your family, then go for it! Otherwise foster a breed you KNOW you aren't going to be interested in in the long run (although we did both fall hard for this disgusting, bald sharpei, so hey you never know what you love :P). You also need some excellent way to segregate your home; we have an old house with lots of hallways and doors so hypothetically EVERY dog can have its own 'space' although we usually have them split in a 2, 3, and then foster dog alone or with whichever grouping he prefers while the cats have access to a 'no dog' room on the otehr side of a high baby gate. If you crate, well that works too!

                        When I worked in rescue we definitely had two 'types' of fosters and I am the latter: those that keep ONE animal long term, and those that foster on a 2 day-2 month basis to help animals on a short term basis. IE: We really want this dog in our program but there's no space in the shelter today; this dog just had its leg amputated/eye surgery/etc and can't stay in the kennels and heal appropriately: or this dog is highly adoptable but the kennels are too high stress/the kennel staff can't administer x medication 2x daily/or of course the demodex cases. I am selfishly the instant gratification type so I LOVE the quick turnaround fostering, and so does my roommate, but you have to have the thick skin to be able to handle watching them come and go. We have multiple dog tags that say "FOSTER" and underneath "I REQUIRE MEDICATION" with both of our phone numbers that we just recycle across our different fosters. (That way if anyone picks the dog up it looks as if the dog's name is Foster, and not "Hey, it was only a foster, free dog!)

                        The more long termers are like the older dogs where you may be saddled with them for months, or sometimes a year or more. I did LOVE at the time fostering older dogs while i was in college; the commitment was so much lower and I felt like I was giving the grey muzzles the most dignified, quiet retirement home I could. I would do it again in a heartbeat but my home is far too boisterous now.

                        Yay for fostering, and yay for you!! You're doing a fantastic thing for animals in need


                        • #13
                          I fostered two pups this summer for the rescue organization I originally adopted my dog from 2 years ago. As mentioned above, it's important to have a rescue organization that's willing to work with you and be concerned about your concerns in order to make it a good fostering experience for both your family and the foster animals.

                          If you're worried about bringing in a dog who may have a high prey drive, I'd suggest fostering a puppy (just one at a time) to start. It seems like everyone would want to foster the pups, but around here that is so not the case. Puppies are a blank slate and it takes a lot of work and time to get them house-trained, crate-trained, and everything else to get them started on their way to being a good family pet...for someone else! Lots of people think I'm crazy for going through the awful-puppy stage and then giving up the pup once it starts settling into the household routine. But I figure it just makes it that much easier for someone else to adopt (and keep) the puppy. Not everyone can stay home for the 2-3 weeks it takes to get the pup house and crate-trained so they're happy to adopt a slightly older pup who's had all the training already done.

                          If you do decide to foster a puppy or a dog, remember that you'll be doing the dog a favour if you try to keep it as disciplined as possible. I don't mind my dog sleeping on my bed, but I can't count on it that the person who wants to adopt my foster puppy will want the pup on their bed. So I keep all fosters off the couch and beds so they don't even think about jumping up there on their own. Lots of people don't believe in crate-training either, but it definitely helps a pup's chances of getting adopted if they're crate trained so I do it. I do everything I can to get the pups adopted out and KEPT adopted out. They leave crate and (mostly) house-trained, have been introduced to collars and leashes, can walk politiely most of the time, and know basic commands. It's doing everything I can to prepare them for their next life...the life after they leave my house.

                          And it is so hard saying bye to them. It's hardest with the first one, it's hardest with the shy ones, it's hardest with the ones who bring a perpetual smile to your face...I almost kept my first foster. I cried and cried and cried the night I let him go. But, he went to an amazing home that's perfect for him and that made it easier. I also promised myself that if any of my fosters ever come back, I'll keep them myself so they don't have to go through upheaval again.

                          If you're up for it, it's an amazing experience. Letting go is the hardest part but even that get's easier with time. You will bond with them...but then you have to be strong enough to let them go. I had to keep telling myself that if I let my first one go, I could keep helping others in need. That helped a little but what really helped was getting the second foster pup to help fill the void left by the first. It's a cycle...I'm anxiously awaiting my third foster!

                          ETA: here's a really good article for those who are thinking about fostering but aren't sure if they're ready for it:



                          • #14
                            I don't foster for any organizations but I do help animals in need. I am sitting on my screened-in porch with a six-month-old kitten on my lap someone dumped on my farm this week. Very friendly fellow, will be a great cat, good with kids. My guess is that someone got to neutering time and decided he had to go. He is intact of course. He is skin and bones and was really thirsty, my guess is he'd been on his own for a few days or a week before working his way from the main road back to the house.

                            He'll be taken to the vet for testing/shots/neutering next week -- I will give it at least the weekend to make sure no one is looking for him. I am keeping him up as we have a very bold coyote in the backyard, don't want him to become a meal. I have three cats so he has to live on the porch for now until he gets tested for feline leukemia.

                            I've already found him a home, I think. Thank goodness! Had a lot of vet bills recently but I can't bear to not help the really friendly ones, they deserve a good home. Hopefully the new owners will reimburse me for the neuter and shots but if not, I consider it a charity donation that I KNOW went to help the animals!


                            • #15
                              I have fostered for the past two years for Dachshund rescues and it has become the driving passion in my life. I love it so much and I can't believe how much I have learned. I would have kept my first fosters (a bonded pair) but the rescue wisely implemented a rule preventing people from adopting their first foster (exceptions apply). I wept for them like I was losing a family member (they were after all, part of the family). I haven't cried for one since then and I've had 50 over the past two years. I've had a full vetted puppy come to my house one night and get picked up by a pre-approved family the next day and I've had heart-worm positive dogs that stayed with me for months. It still hurts inside the same way when they leave but now that I know the process I handle it much better.

                              I wrote the following in response to several inquiries I had about bringing fosters home when I knew that one day I'd have to let them go and it perfectly sums up how I feel about each of them. It makes me tear up every time I read it.

                              "I do love them all very much, but I always have to think of all the dogs waiting in the same shelters that my current fosters came from. I like to think of myself as a bridge. When dogs are in shelters they are in danger of euthanasia. They can't swim alone to the other side (where a family and safety exist) because they are too sick, or too scared or because the distance is too great. They need someone to bridge the distance; to teach them how to live inside, to take them for their dental work, to clip their nails and give them a bath. There are only so many cars that can fit on my bridge, so the traffic must always keep moving to make room for the dogs that really need me. I always remind myself that no matter how much I love them, no matter how fun they are to have in my house, there is always a more perfect place for them to be, a family where they can be the center of the universe. They are welcome to stay for as long as they need me but when they are strong and no longer in danger, then its time for them to find their own family so that another dog can have the same chance they did."
                              Amber King
                              Furever Dachshund Rescue
                              Fundraising Chair


                              • #16
                                My family has fostered Aussies for a while now. Only one stayed and I chose that one!

                                Medical bills and such may depend on the rescue organization you go through. With Aussie Rescue, we paid for food, but heartworm pills and flea stuff was sent every month. Vet bills were covered too. Dogs usually did not stay here that long, longest I think was maybe 7 months. All were older dogs who went to great homes. Get updates sometimes too. Check with a organization to see. Sometimes they go through someone first who can evaluate the animal to see where it could go. We have cats who snuggle with our dogs, and have really had to watch some fosters, but never a major problem. We do tell them we have cats, so if they have a known chaser, they don't come here.
                                \"I never play horseshoes \'cause Mother taught us not to throw our clothes around,\" ~ Mr. Ed


                                • #17
                                  I've fostered for years, and echo the comments about working with a reputable rescue. I used to foster dogs, but they are much more of a time commitment than cats, so now I do cats and rabbits. The rescue I work with, Purrfect Feline Friends in NJ, pulls cats from the shelter and adopts them out from PetSmarts. Usually I have a cat for a week or less, to get an idea of the temperament and behavior before it goes to PS. I don't have failed fosters per se, but I do have some rejects, for lack of a better word. One cat bit the adopter, another started in with "inappropriate elimination" - they're now my permanent guests. Oh, wait, I do have a failure. My dear cat, Faith, who I suspect was left at the shelter when her owner died. She picked up some kind of illness resulting in mouth sores at the shelter, and refused to eat when I got her home. Tried various medications, many trips to the vet. I force fed her from just after Christmas to Easter - and then one day she just started eating on her own. Now she's much too fat, but I couldn't give her up after all we went through.