Fostering Pets

kids kissing dog on cheeksAs an animal lover, you know just how hard it is to pass up that sweet puppy dogface while walking through your local shelter or rescue group. If adoption isn’t possible for you at the moment, fostering can be an amazing opportunity to provide a homeless pet with a nurturing, temporary home until they are able to find a permanent family.

“It’s not as hard to find pets to foster as some might think,” said Susan Lobit, a veterinary technician at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and experienced fosterer. “Checking with rescue organizations is a always good place to start.”

Before deciding to foster a pet, there are important aspects of the job you should be aware of that many people overlook.

“You need to understand that you are in the middle,” Lobit said. “You help the pet get healthy, rehabilitated with any social or physical problems, and teach them about life in a loving home, but then have to be ready to send them on to a forever home.”

Lobit explains that while letting go can be difficult to do, knowing that you’ve helped make such a huge difference in an animal’s life makes the separation worthwhile.

If you’re up for the challenge, it is possible to foster more then one pet at a time, but you can’t forget that each individual pet’s needs and safety are still a top priority.

“When considering taking on additional foster pets, it’s important to ask yourself, ‘Is everyone getting along? Is everyone eating properly and staying healthy?’” Lobit said. “You also need to make sure that when you foster, you don’t forget about your own pets, if you have any; they need you too.”

As a foster, you have many responsibilities aside from just providing an animal with a temporary home, proper food, and care. “You are responsible for getting that animal to the veterinarian and taking them various places to help find homes, such as adoption fairs and pet clinics,” Lobit said. “You are there to help prepare them to leave you and find their own happiness.”

Fostering a pet can be a very time-consuming job, but one that is rewarding in the end, once you’ve helped unite a deserving animal with its forever family.

“Of course, you will also have those that we call ‘foster failures,’ and that’s where they end up living with us because we just can’t let them go,” Lobit said. “I have fostered many animals and had a few of those failures along the way.”

The decision to foster a pet should take thoughtful consideration, as well as a careful evaluation of how much time and care that you’ll be able to devote to the animal. This, in addition to remembering that you’ll eventually have to give them away, are the two most important aspects to keep in mind.

“Before fostering, you need to make sure that you will be able let go; this can be hard when you put in that much time and love,” Lobit said. “But you also know that you’ve helped give both human and animal the chance to have that special relationship. It’s incredibly satisfying to watch the progress of a challenged pet turn into a healthy, beautiful family member.”

Fostering a pet will not only make a difference in a deserving animal’s life, but in yours as well. As long as you are aware of the responsibilities it entails, fostering can be a rewarding experience unlike any other.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the Web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pettalk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.