Twice this past week, I received my favorite kind of message. “Hey, Lindsay! I think I want to foster, but what do I have to do?” Every new foster means another life saved, but the idea of fostering can seem a bit daunting. But if you have a love for animals, there’s a foster opportunity for you!
Bottle-feeding is, in my opinion, some of the most time-intensive fostering. These little ones are new babies that for one reason or another have been separated from their mommas far too early. They rely on their fosters to feed them via bottle every few hours until they can eat on their own, around 4-5 weeks old. Remember those midnight feedings with your kids? Yep, same thing here. But in between feedings, these little guys are angels. They sleep. That’s it. While time-consuming, bottle-feeding can be the easiest form of fostering. It’s also so exciting to watch these little guys open their eyes, learn to walk (or fall as is usually the case), and discover the world around them. I highly recommend taking at least two puppies at a time. They will keep each other company and will dramatically cut down on crying between feedings.
Best for: anyone who is at home a lot (work from home, stay-at-home moms, retirees).
Time commitment: 2-4 weeks
Who doesn’t love having a puppy around?! Puppy fosters get to start these little ones off right by potty training them and teaching them basic training like sit, down, stay, and come. Never trained a dog before? That’s okay! It’s easy to teach these tricks, and young puppies are eager to learn and please. Depending on where they are with potty training, you probably will need to let them out at least every 4-6 hours.
Best for: someone who can be available to let the puppy out to potty during the day.
Time commitment: 2-4 weeks (could be longer, but based on the puppy fostering we’ve done lately, our average has been 2 weeks)
Often times, rescues need a place for a dog to go for just a few days while something else is figured out. Or maybe the regular foster is going out of town for the weekend. Emergency fosters are able to step in and take a dog into their home for a couple of days to a week. Whether it’s helping out a foster going on vacation so the rescue doesn’t have to pay for boarding, or allowing a rescue to save the life of a dog on death row by giving them a few days to find another foster, emergency fosters are essential to a rescue.
Best for: anyone who can’t foster for more than a few days.
Time commitment: 1-7 days
What if you want to help, but you can’t commit long-term. Short-term fostering is perfect for you! You pick your time frame. For some people, three weeks may be the most time you can have a foster dog in your home. Others can give a month or a month and a half, but no more. Having a foster dog in your home, while fun, does disrupt your routine, and for some people they can only give so much. That’s okay! Be up front with the rescue as to what amount of time you can give. Even just short-term, you’re still saving a life!
Best for: someone who can’t commit to foster for an unknown amount of time.
Time commitment: 2 weeks- 2 months
Long-term fosters take a dog until they find their forever home. The greatest need in the rescue world is more long-term fosters. The length of time is unknown, but this commitment to needy animals makes all the difference.
Best for: anyone who can bring an animal into their home and love them as their own until they find a forever family.
Time commitment: could be up to 3 months or longer.
Medical/Special Needs Fosters:
Dogs with special needs need special people to foster them. They may be recovering from mange or an injury from living on the streets. Or it could be a momma pup who’s about to give birth to her puppies. Or it could be a dog who was abused and needs a foster family to help him find his confidence again. Whatever their situation, these guys won’t do well in a shelter or in most regular foster homes. While these dogs can be the most challenging to foster, they are also the most rewarding to foster.
Best for: anyone who can give these babies the extra help and attention that they need and deserve.
Time commitment: as long as it takes.
Fostering can work for anyone if you want it to! Check out our Current Foster Projects page and scroll down to read about some of our recent success stories. What kind of fostering fits you the best? Let us know, and we can help you get started. You’ll be glad you did!