When should I start?
When you can commit yourself to saving an animal’s life, following through in the best interests of the animal, and have the means and patience to pursue this new chapter in your life through thick and thin, easy and hard… you can start.
How do I start?
There are several ways to foster a pet in need.
Foster for a Rescue Group
Call or email the non-profit Rescues near you which specializes in the type of pet you’d like to foster (ie. cats, dogs, horses, birds, reptiles, etc). Speak to the group’s foster coordinator and ask for details regarding where they get their pets, pets available for foster, criteria in being a foster parent, mandatory visits at events or at home, and compensation if applicable. You may be surprised that most non-profit rescues will provide for food and vet bills, and maybe even toys and bedding. Each rescue is different, so do your homework before choosing what is best for you and your family.
Rescue pets from Shelters
Every pet at the shelter who is available for adoption is in need of someone to save him. All you have to do is visit your shelter, as an animal lover, and you’ll want to take ALL of them home.
1) First, check your city’s ordinances for pet limits on your property and possible local laws governing your ability to foster animals so you don’t get into trouble!
2) Second, call your local shelters and let them know what you’d like to do… individually foster the pet until you find a forever home. Some shelters will work with you, sometimes giving you a break on the price, or calling you when they have a pet who matches you. Be aware that some shelters are firm, and may not allow you to adopt more than a certain number of pets from their shelter.
3) Third, be prepared for vet bills. Be sure to look the pet over carefully before bringing him home. Shelters are carriers for common illnesses when large groups of animals share a building. It can get EXTREMELY expensive to nurture a sick pet back to health. You must consider the other pets in your household also, and make sure they are vaccinated well in advance of bringing a strange pet home. Many diseases are airborne and may lead to your own pets catching them. It’s a good idea to wait several weeks to let the pet acclimate and to study his personalities, habits, and any special needs.
4) Fourth, if you have small children or pets of your own, you may want to bring everyone down to meet the potential foster pet before making a final decision. You will want a household where everyone gets along, and not create an atmosphere of danger or mayhem.
5) Fifth, advertise your foster pets for adoption on free websites. Good sources are of course HERE, Craigslist, and Oodle. You can do a Google Search to find other resources for free pet classifieds. Don’t ask for full compensation for a shelter pet… other than adoption fees you paid including spay/neuter. An honest way to relinquish the pet to a new owner is to include receipts of your expenses. Remember…. to foster a pet from a shelter is NOT a way of earning money. I know Craigslist, as well as Adopt US Animal Rescue will not tolerate people “selling” animals for financial gain. You want to keep a good reputation for yourself for the pets you rescue.
6) And finally, Keep Patient. Finding the right home for your saved friend is crucial. He’s gone through so much already, you’ll want a perfect home for him. You’ll probably want to make a home visit to see where he’ll be living. Make sure you have a contract drawn to make the adoption stable, and in the meantime enjoy him, for he’ll only be passing through your life for a short, incredible time.
Offer foster/placement service, interrupting people from taking their pets to shelters.
Watch your local ads, newspaper and internet sites, for those people needing to find homes for their pets. You will find that some actually say “free” or “need to place today or he’s going to the pound”. Of course, as with those animals you find in the shelters, you may not get any HONEST background about the pet from the owner, so be aware. It may be a problem pet who doesn’t get along with other pets, or one that they’ve been harboring from biting someone, or a very expensive surgery in which the pet will need that is not disclosed. Then again, you may get a very loving pet parent who just needs to place their pet for all the right reasons. Use your judgement in each case.