Fostering is a loving way to help a shelter animal acclimate to a home setting before being adopted into a permanent home. It also helps animals by freeing up much-needed space, so we can save even more lost or homeless pets. As a foster parent, you would welcome a shelter animal into your home and provide him/her with proper care and lots of love. We provide all food, toys, supplies, medical care, and a support team to help you with any questions you may have during the foster period, including tips on breed personalities, behavior training, and health. It’s the perfect blend of your love of animals and your desire to give back to your humane society!
Which animals need fostering?
- Animals that are very stressed by kennel life.
- Animals in need of socialization, manners training, or behavioral modification.
- Animals too young to be adopted – either very young kittens or puppies w/o mothers or mothers and their litters.
- Animals in need of a quiet home to recover from an illness or injury.
- Animals that cannot be housed at the shelter (rabbits, birds, reptiles, etc.)
What are the requirements?
We want to make it a pleasant, fun, and ultimately rewarding experience for both pet and family. Because many animals reach us as strays and several are stressed in shelter life, we often don’t know much about their behavior, and consequently for safety, do have some simple foster requirements. We ask that as a foster parent, you are 18 years old or older and you commit to opening your home for at least 6 months. That means you stay on board with us as a foster but may have a few different animals within that time frame. (Many animals “graduate” fostering sooner than we predict, others take longer.) We also ask that you have knowledge of animal care and basic animal-handling training and adequate time and space to play, train, and give lots of love. And of course, if you have a landlord, it just makes sense to ask their approval first.
What if I have animals of my own?
That’s often great, given many animals’ need for socialization. At first – to minimize stress to the foster animal and your family pets, it’s best to keep your foster animal separated from your own animals, such as in a separate room or area of your home. Most often, our foster pets are simply in need of a little peace, quiet, and plain old TLC. We ask you to introduce pets slowly and always under close supervision – you know, allow that weird “handshake” thing dogs do to happen.
Who pays for food and care?
Agreeing to foster one of our great animals is a gift in itself. Because you are giving us such an incredible gift, we are happy to share food, litter, bedding, toys, and any other animal care supplies you may need if a pet is on medication or needs any special supplies (such as prescription food), we send that along too.
What if it doesn’t work out?
Like adoption, fostering is a big commitment. We want it to be a great experience for all involved. Ask any foster, it’s work, but it is gratifying to know you are the bridge between a shelter life and a forever home. If things aren’t going like you expected or you encounter unexpected challenges, let the shelter staff or Foster Program Coordinator know. More often than not, we can help with a problem that may be a common one for us, and if not, we can help find another foster home for the pet.
Do I have to be home all day?
No, but the specifics of each animal’s care is different. For example, we always recommend crate training and arranging potty breaks for dogs during the day, especially as you are getting to know him or her and very young kittens will need to be fed every 2-3 hours.
What if my foster gets sick?
First, call us right away. If the shelter is closed, leave a message, and a designated staff person will give you a call back. Our medical staff are familiar with common illnesses and can often guide you in customary care and provide medications to help. Because we are a non-profit organization with limited funding, and because we have solid working relationships with select local veterinarians, we ask that you not take your foster to your personal vet without prior approval from us, unless you are willing to personally pay for any treatment as a donation to the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin.
When do I have to return my foster?
That depends on the animal you’re fostering. Most often, once animals are ready to be placed up for adoption, they will come back to the shelter. Other times they will remain in Foster Care. Our goal is always to find permanent loving homes for all our animals, both in shelter and in foster homes. Often permanent homes are found fast, ad other times it takes a bit longer. We continue to promote our foster animals as adoptable while they are in your care, as long as they are healthy, stable, recovered, and able to be united with their ideal match of a family.
For example, if you are fostering very young kittens, they will need to come in for important vaccinations and de-worming every two weeks until they are both 8 or more weeks old and 2 pounds. At that time, they can be spayed/neutered and placed up for adoption.
What if I want to keep my foster?
Ahhhhhh… love. It happens. If you fall in love with your house guest and would like to keep your foster animal, we would love for you to adopt him/her. We just require that your new love be spayed or neutered by our veterinarian and that you pay for the cost of the adoption so we can continue sustaining our foster program and helping other shelter animals.
Fostering is an integral part of the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin. With a dedicated foster volunteer network and a caring, compassionate setting to get animals ready to be re-homed, we can help ensure that more animals are given the chance at life they deserve. Fostering is also one of those things that gets you right in the heart – the more you foster, the greater you’ll feel!