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Want to Be a Dog Foster Parent? Ask These Questions First

By: Jeff Noce, Voyce President

Over the last 40-plus years, the number of homeless dogs and cats euthanized has steadily decreased. Much of this is thanks to the efforts of no-kill shelters, private rescues and the selflessness of individuals who volunteer as pet foster parents.

Foster parents help reduce euthanasia numbers by opening up their homes temporarily to pets in need. Doing so reduces pressure on shelters, frees up space for incoming animals, and gives pets more time to find their forever families.

Not only is this a great arrangement for the animals, it’s beneficial to potential adopters as well. Because pets spend time in a home environment, rather than a stressful shelter, their true personalities are able to come out. By observing the pet day in and day out, foster parents can give adopters a better idea of whether the animal will be a good match for their lifestyle.

In short? Foster parents are lifesavers!

If you’ve ever thought about fostering a pet, there are countless rescues and shelters that would welcome you. Foster parents are vital to the success of many adoption programs and most always need more.

Of course, taking in a homeless pet, even on a temporary basis, is a big decision. Here are a few things to think about before you (and your family, if applicable) take the leap.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is everyone in your household on board with the idea of fostering?
  2. Do you have time for a foster pet…including exercise, veterinary visits, training and socialization?
  3. If you have children, are they experienced with and respectful of animals?
  4. If you have a pet, will he or she accept another animal?
  5. Are you and your family emotionally prepared to release the animal when he’s finally adopted?

After you’ve determined that you’re ready to open your heart and home to a foster animal, begin by researching the organization you’re interested in helping. Do they have a good reputation in your community and among other rescuers? Also be sure to speak to other foster parents to get a feel for how things operate.

Questions to ask the organization:

  1. What is the average length of stay of a foster animal?
  2. How are expenses handled (veterinary, food, training, etc.)?
  3. Is there a mentoring program in place for new foster parents?
  4. Who is responsible for interacting with potential adopters?
  5. Who is the emergency contact?
  6. Are you allowed to adopt your foster pet if you choose?

Once you’ve settled on the organization, you’ll most likely be asked to fill out an application. They may also wish to interview you, talk to references and/or perform a home check.

It’s possible you will be matched with an animal right away, but it may take a few days or weeks. When they reach out to you with a potential foster pet, it’s important to make sure that it’s a good match for you and your situation.

Questions to ask about a potential foster pet:

  1. Is the animal spayed or neutered?
  2. What is his age/breed/sex?
  3. Does he have any special health or behavioral needs?
  4. Is he house or litter box trained?
  5. How is he with children? Men? Women? Other pets?
  6. Does the organization know anything about his background?

It’s true that becoming a foster parent requires a little planning and preparation. But undoubtedly it will all be worth it when you see your foster pet healthy, happy and cherished in their new forever home.

I’d love to hear from you! If you have any questions that you’d like me to answer on the blog concerning health, wellness or behavior, drop me an email at

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Posted on Jul 23, 2015 by VOYCE Lifestyle