Shelters can be a very stressful and scary place for homeless pets. An estimated 6.5 million animals enter America’s shelters every year, and most struggle to keep up with the numbers. When shelters run out of space, they rely on foster homes.
When we foster a pet, we give them a temporary safe place to live until a permanent home becomes available. There are many reasons to become a pet foster parent, which can make a world of difference in an animal’s life.
Top 10 reasons to become a pet foster parent
Benefits aren’t just for the pet. The people who foster these animals gain benefits, too. Besides the unconditional love both receive, here are some of the other advantages.
- Fostering helps prepare an animal for adoption and prevents overcrowding in shelters.
- The foster parent can learn more about the pet’s likes and dislikes so they can be matched with a perfectly suited forever home.
- If the animals are nursing a litter of kittens or puppies, having an environment with less exposure to potential illness that may occur in a shelter is tremendously beneficial.
- Foster pets get more individualized attention, care, and love.
- A foster home provides a less stressful environment than the shelter.
- Pet foster parents are saving lives and keeping pets out of shelters.
- If you currently have pets, after a slow and gradual introduction takes place, they will both benefit socially from interacting with each other.
- Dog owners live longer and are healthier overall.
- A fostered pet allows for one more space to open up in the shelter, which can save another animal’s life.
- Having a new furry family member to pet, even temporarily, will bring more joy and love into your home.
Give the pet their best chance
Fostering a pet is a selfless act that allows the pet to get the one-on-one attention, affection, and love they so desperately need.
Dogs and cats want to feel loved and cared for, even if it is temporary until they find their forever home.
But, becoming a pet foster parent does require following a few simple steps.
Four simple steps to become a pet foster parent
- Start by submitting an online application with the organization you are interested in. Typically, you must be at least 18 years of age and have a valid driver’s license to apply. The application will usually ask the following questions:
- Your name, location, and other contact information
- If you live in a house or apartment
a. Larger dogs require more space to live comfortably in, and a backyard area where they can run and play safely is a plus.
b. Cats and smaller dogs adapt well to both apartments and homes.
- How long you are willing to foster—for example:
a. 1-2 weeks
b. 3-4 months
- A list of any animals currently in your home
- A preference for fostering a cat or dog
- If you have a fenced-in yard
- Veterinary and personal references
- If you have any children
2. Most pet adoption services require online training to be done, which usually has a quiz to take at the end. This process typically takes about one hour and will need an online portal. Some examples include:
- Adobe Connect
3. A registration fee, usually around $10, is then required along with a background check.
4. Wait and you will be matched with a foster pet that is best suited for you.
Most organizations typically provide food, litter boxes, crates, and other necessities that may be needed. They also cover any medical expenses that are required.
When you take your foster pet out for walks or car rides (which are especially popular with the pooches), make sure you have a secure safety harness.
Taking in a homeless pet is an opportunity to change that animal’s future. Some may have endured a painful past with abuse, neglect, and cruelty. Fostering is a chance to gain back that much-needed trust. The transformation is in and of itself a gift for both the pet and the foster parent.
You may also find your own perfect permanent addition to the family through the fostering process. It is not uncommon to get attached to foster fur babies and ultimately adopt them.
No matter the outcome, knowing that you have made a positive difference in a pet’s life is the best reward a human can have!
Clint Howitz is the Founder and Pack Leader at dogIDs, which started in his basement in 2005. Clint is a lifelong dog lover with a passion for developing functional and beautiful products for dogs.