Like many first time fosters, my wife and I really had nothing to do with how we got started other than having a feeling deep within that we needed to do more. And, just like that, our first foster dog came to us. We started out fostering one dog at a time for about 9 years (2001, I believe was our first foster). The dog just came to us. When you get involved in animal rescue, it's amazing how opportunities just start presenting themselves; and animals in need just seem to find us!
So, how does one get started? The first thing you can do is get some experience under your belt if need be. Contact your local animal shelter or a rescue near you where you can possibly start volunteering or walking some dogs (or caring for cats if you're a kitty lover). If you feel you are ready to get going, you can ask for foster opportunities. if no one local to you has a foster situation there are many resources out there like social media (facebook) where you can post your willingness to foster. I'll bet you any amount of money someone will respond. You could also check out www.petfinder.com or www.adoptapet.com and look up rescues and contact them for foster opportunities. Once you find an animal to foster you'll be on your way.
Different rescue organizations likely have slight differences in their foster programs. For instance, if I have someone fostering for me, I offer to pay for any medical expenses, training or supplies. Fortunately, the few folks who have fostered for me have helped out with some expenses (rescues are almost always short on funding). Some rescues may expect the foster home to pick up the tab on expenses. And, if you start like my wife and I did years ago (and still today), much of the care we provide comes out of our own pockets. So, make sure you communicate with the rescue you are dealing with to ensure everyone's expectations are aligned. Having accurate expectations on both sides will make the partnership successful.
Once you decide to bring in your new foster pet, here are some things you should consider. First of all, do you have any pets that could make fostering an issue? It's great that you want to do more. But, your own pets' lives should not be negatively impacted. They were there first and their quality of life should be maintained. Secondly, are you in a position financially to care for a pet? Are you allowed to have pets where you live? Are you equipped to handle a pet with special needs or behavioral issues? Are you willing to have this temporary pet in your life for an extended period of time? Not all animals get adopted quickly. Never believe anyone that tells you; "This dog is sweet, he'll get adopted in no time". No expectations should be put on when a pet should get adopted. Understand there is a commitment to fostering. That commitment ends when you find that animal its forever home. There will be ups and downs too. Many homeless animals are not perfect, which is often why they likely are homeless. Dogs may need to be housebroken or crate trained. They may chew on your couch or carpet or woodwork. You must be able to deal with these behaviors. Someone has to be deal with it and help the dog get better otherwise it will ultimately be homeless again. Understand these animals need a patient, loving caretaker to help make them the best pets they can be. THIS WILL BE YOUR JOB!!
Fostering animals is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. It's hard at times. It's sad even to see them go sometimes. But, when you see the pet placed into their forever home, there is no better feeling. You just saved a life. And, now you can save another. Here's a little formula for you to understand the impact you would on fostering. If you only fostered two dogs, you saved FOUR lives. Yup, FOUR!! Here's how. If you take a dog from a shelter, you obviously save that dog. But. you also make her/his cage available for another animal that needs a place to go. So, saving one life really saves 2. Save 3, you're really saving 6. See what I mean. You may not thinkg you're making a difference. But, there's the old saying: "Saving one dog doesn't change the world, but it changes that one dog's world" - something like that...
Lastly, if anyone is one the fence about fostering...... JUMP OFF!! We need you - LOL. Seriously, though, just try it. Talk to others who have done it before you. Most of us rescue folks, although crazy as hell, are here to help. My email and phone numbers and websites are all public and I am always available to talk or email or whatever. Well, I hope this offers a little insight into what is involved in fostering. Of course, this could be an in depth topic. But, blogs aren't supposed to be too long and I certainly don't want to bore you. FOSTER NOW.... PLEEEEAAAASSSEEE!!! Until next time...