How to Be a Pet Foster Parent

Rescue husky I initially fostered from a previous foster parent. The previous foster parent trained her so well that I didn’t have to train her when I first welcomed her into my home.

With a new wave of lockdowns in place for many provinces, many households may be looking for some activities or time to dedicate to a pet.  I know a year ago, I was in the same place.  I suddenly felt a surge of free time and energy to take care of a rescue animal.  Of course, being a pet foster parent is entirely different.  Unlike adoption, fostering means you’re only inviting a pet (typically dog or cat) temporarily to your home.  You let them live with you until they find a forever home.  Shelters may be overcrowded, and so a foster home allows them greater one-on-one attention and care.  So why foster rather than adopt? Several common reasons from my peers who have committed to either:

  1. Getting adjusted: for myself, taking on the full responsibility of pet adoption was huge.  I had to be mentally and physically prepared to adjust my schedule and it can be overwhelming for some new pet owners.  Fostering a pet can help families and individuals adjust to having a pet.  To see if it’s a good fit for their lifestyle, their comfort level and their time or energy levels.
  2. Temporary location of residence: for many AU students who may be renting a dorm or suite, you may be unsure of how long you plan to stay at your current residence.  Therefore, fostering a pet gives flexibility in case a big move needs to happen.
  3. Costs: the full responsibility of adoption might include future veterinary care costs that can add up.  If you’re not in a financial situation to adopt, fostering can help alleviate some or all of the costs.  Check with the shelter to see what options are available.  Many times, the pets are already immunized and the shelter may cover for any veterinary expenses.

So now that you know the difference between pet adoption and pet fostering, what are the steps to getting started?

Step 1:

Google foster parent and find your nearest pet shelter

Step 2:

My friend’s foster rabbit named Snowflake.

Fill out an online or in-person application form.  If you have questions, call the organization to speak with a staff member.  Many are experienced with the process and can provide some guidance throughout the process.

Step 3:

The rescue society or shelter will conduct an assessment to see if your home and personal situation allows for animals to be adequately cared for.  There may be a minimum length of time commitment for foster pets.  For the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society, this is a three month commitment.  Some societies do not allow for adoption post-fostering while others do.  Make sure you familiarize yourself with the specific policies of each shelter.

Step 4:

The shelter typically has a registry of animals that need a foster home.  You may be able to select from a list or be notified when an animal is available for adoption.

Step 5:

Show your foster pet some love!

A colleague of mine recently adopted this beautiful kitten who has a love for freshly laundered socks

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