Foster Family Guidelines

A well-established foster network will often become the backbone to the success of a rescue organization. Many shelters rely heavily on their volunteer foster homes to assist in the care and rehoming of animals. A foster parent provides a temporary home for kittens, puppies, dogs, cats, or other animals in need. The length of a foster commitment will vary from a few days to several months depending on the situation and needs of the animal and shelter. A professionally-run foster network will benefit the community by saving lives and helping animals adapt more successfully with potential adopters.

Before approving a home for foster care, shelters will have certain guidelines you must agree to follow. Oftentimes, you will be required to complete a training program before being allowed to foster.

Families interested in fostering through Take a Pet must complete a questionnaire in order for us to assess your experience, preferences, availability, home setting (ie: fenced yard, acreage etc.) and household members (animals and people). This will assist us provide the best placement of animals in need of temporary foster homes. Home checks may also be included as part of the shelter’s foster placement program.

All foster homes will be limited in the number of foster animals they can take in based on:

  • Local laws/pet limitations (as applicable)
  • Availability to care for animals,
  • The amount of space available for the foster animals

Depending on the needs of the shelter, the type of foster homes we need will vary. In some cases, foster homes may be selected for “special needs” animals (bottle babies, recuperation from injury/illness, rehabilitation/socialization for severely abused animals etc.). A foster home may be used to housetrain, obedience train, assist in the training of a therapy dog or other means to help raise the adoptability of an animal. Foster homes may temporarily hold an animal or animals on a waiting list due to a shelter being overfilled at the time – just to give a few ideas.

Each shelter will have their own requirements, and it is important that their guidelines are clear to save future misunderstandings. In most cases, you will be asked to sign a contract with the shelter or rescue organization to ensure you understand and agree to the inner-workings of their specific program. Some things you may run across and will want to consider are::

  • Will the shelter be responsible for all the financial needs of the animal?
  • Do foster homes take an animal to a veterinarian at their discretion or should it be approved by a designated official first?
  • Are there times the foster home can make this decision (such as emergencies)?
  • Are there specific veterinarian(s) the animals should be taken to?
  • Is the foster home required to bring the animal to the shelter or adoption sites during business hours?
  • Will the foster family have permission to show or adopt out animals from their home as an adoption counselor, or do all meetings and adoptions have to be done through the shelter itself and at a designated location?
  • What happens if your children or resident animals are exposed to an illness or has a condition that wasn’t detected in your foster animal?
    Example: Canine Parvovirus (Parvo) is one example an unvaccinated animal can carry to a home. Even if vaccinated before going to the home, a dog can already be exposed and may not show signs of the illness for as much as 10 days. Some adult dogs may never show signs but can be a carrier. Although this illness does not affect felines or people it can have a lasting effect on yards. Depending on the soil and climate, some experts estimate the virus can stay in the soil for as little as 5 months to as much as five years. For this time period, puppies who have not received all their vaccinations that are placed on these infected grounds can get ill or die from this disease.
  • Will the foster family be required to quarantine the animal, and is there a quarantine area available at the home?
  • What back-up plan is in place if the foster family can no longer care for the animal?
    The dog that seemed to love everyone and everything turns out to hate your cats. Your availability suddenly changes – you have to move or you want to going on vacation. Your spouse is suddenly having problems with the foster animals. Neighbors are complaining about the dog’s incessent barking. The dog is a fence climber or a yard digger. Sometimes it can be as simple as a thinking you were ready for the commitment of taking care of animals and find you’re really not. Or you get attached and want to keep everything that comes to your home. You may just become discouraged, especially if you’re working with special needs or debiliated animals. You may find that you cannot face the loss of animal life, that despite doing everything right, can often happen in these situations.