Turning Your Home into an Animal Foster Home

Animal foster homes are an intermediate step between the shelter and a new permanent home. They're a great way for local people to collaborate with shelters and help abandoned animals.
Turning Your Home into an Animal Foster Home

Last update: 16 July, 2020

Animal foster homes are a fundamental part of the work done by animal protection organizations. They’re where animals live temporarily until they find a permanent home. If you want to help animals in need, but you can’t adopt a pet permanently, maybe you might want to volunteer to foster animals temporarily. In this article, we’ll tell you how to best prepare yourself for becoming an animal foster home.

What is an animal foster home?

An animal foster home is a temporary home for an animal that’s waiting to be adopted. This way, until a new permanent family arrives for them, the animal can still receive plenty of care and attention.

The first step towards becoming an animal foster home is to get in touch with your local animal shelter and find out how they work. Most of the animal’s expenses are normally covered by the shelter, such as food and visits to the vet, but it’s always best to make sure.

Choose which animal to foster

The next step is to choose what kind of animal is able to stay in your house, whether it be a dog, cat, rodent or other species. You’ll need to also think about size, and age, and about what’s most appropriate for the size of your home.

The shelter is likely to have animals with special needs, so you need to think carefully about whether you have enough time for them. If you don’t have much experience with animals, you might want to opt for an animal with less complex needs. All sorts of species, breeds and ages get abandoned, so there’s likely to be an animal that’s suitable for your home.

A dog with a rag tied around a stick.

It’s also important to think about the other animals in your house if you have any. Not all animals get along together, so it’s something that needs careful consideration. For example, some small dogs don’t get on well with large dogs, and some cats hate having other cats on their territory. You’ll be the best person to make this decision.

Before you turn your home into an animal foster home, you’ll also need to know how this will affect the rest of your family. As much as you might want to help another animal, if it’ll be to the detriment of other people or animals in your household, it’ll be the wrong decision.

Prepare yourself psychologically

Animal shelters who have the support of animal foster homes really appreciate their commitment. And for the animal’s welfare, it’s also best for them to move between as few houses as possible. This means that it’s important to understand that the animal will be staying with you until they find a new permanent home. This could be a couple of weeks or even months.

This sadly also means that there will eventually be a goodbye. Some people will become very attached to their guest, so it can be hard to see them go. It’s important to understand this before you welcome them into your home.

A dog sleeping on the bed in their new animal foster home.

In fact, the whole purpose of creating an animal foster home is the moment of saying goodbye. Your work ends when adoption begins, and if it weren’t for animal foster homes, the work of animal shelters would be a great deal harder.

Final preparations

Once you’ve chosen a shelter to help, the type of animal that you can foster, and have mentally prepared yourself for your commitment, it’s time to receive your foster animal, and this needs to be done in a way which is safe and comfortable for everyone involved.

Before your animal arrives, think about where they will eat and sleep. Think about the house rules. If you’re adopting a dog, think about when they’ll go for a walk and whose responsibility it is. Animals often need routine and this will really make them feel more at home.

You also need to know where your local vet is. Your foster animal may require medical care, deworming, vaccinations, or microchipping. And of course, don’t forget to have the shelter’s contact details readily to hand.

A couple playing with a dog in their animal foster home.

If you already have pets, decide how to best introduce them to your new foster animal. However friendly your current pets might be, it’s always a good idea to give your foster animal their own space for the first few days. This will prevent any immediate clashes and also give them a chance to get familiar with their surroundings.

If you can, try to cordon off any sections of the house that you’re concerned about. This way, you can leave the house knowing that there won’t be any problems when you return.

Animal foster homes are an important part of animal protection. They’re the very best way to make sure that an animal receives love and attention until a new permanent family arrives. Providing a foster home for a rescued animal can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do.

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