Serving as a pet foster parent is an excellent way to welcome a new animal companion into your home and help an animal in need. There are countless dogs and cats in shelters across the U.S. who need homes. In fact, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 5 to 7 million pets are taken into animal shelters in the U.S. every year.
Often times, animals in this situation have been victims of abuse, and their trauma may cause them to exhibit traits that make them less likely to be adopted. Fortunately, pet foster parents offer a solution to this issue by allowing pets the time to adjust to a home life with human companions before they find their forever home.
What you need to know about fostering pets:
- Time and resources – A person or family must have the time, room and resources to dedicate to a foster pet in order for it to be a positive experience for all parties involved.
- Ability to say goodbye – It takes a special person to foster a pet—it must be remembered that fostering is a temporary situation until the pet finds a permanent home or is returned to its owner
- Patience – Animals in shelters or those who have been moved from home to home are often under tremendous stress. They may or may not be accustomed to cages or other animals. It is important that you are gentle and patient with your foster pet and give them extra attention.
- Slow welcome to the family – If you have other animals or children, make the introductions to the foster pet gradually and only with supervision.
- Vet visits – Some foster pets will have had very poor nutrition or certain medical conditions that have not been properly addressed depending on the circumstances from where they came. Although the medical care is usually paid for, there will be a time commitment if you need to make several trips to a local veterinary clinic.
Serving as a foster parent to a disadvantaged or needy animal is a wonderful service to the animal and very gratifying for the people involved. There are many different types of foster programs in the U.S. If you love pets but are unable to adopt a pet, consider the option of becoming a foster parent for a needy pet.
You can often find out more about foster programs in your area by contacting the local animal shelter. VCA Animal Hospitals run several Shelter Partnership Programs with animal shelters and humane societies all across the U.S. Click here to find a VCA shelter partner near you.
If you want to learn more about fostering pets, check out The Pet Foster Network’s website for some additional general information. Also, the ASPCA has some great advice for foster parents who must be emotionally prepared for the temporary nature of the arrangement.
To happy and healthy pets,
VCA Animal Hospitals and Dr. Donna Spector, DVM, DACVIM
Dr. Donna Spector is a board-certified veterinary internist who has written and lectured extensively on nutrition, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders and other animal health issues. She has over a decade of hands-on Internal Medicine experience, helps over 60 general veterinarians across the country manage difficult medical cases every week, provides continuing education for over 2,000 veterinarians every month, is the chief veterinary advisor to Halo, Purely for Pets (a prominent holistic pet food company co-owned by Ellen DeGeneres), serves as a veterinary expert on several nation-wide radio talk shows, and has her advice widely quoted on popular pet blogs and in pet-oriented publications.