Have you ever thought about becoming a foster pet parent? Foster pet parents play an important role helping a shelter’s most vulnerable animals, yet most people know little about the positive impact foster pet parents make. Like their “human” counterparts, foster pet parents provide temporary care and housing. The animals they foster come from shelters or rescue groups and consist of the very young, sick, or injured. Given the large number of animals in a shelter and the shelter’s limited resources, shelters are often unable to care for animals that require additional attention, such as young animals that need frequent feedings, or the sick and injured that need additional medical care. As a result, shelters and rescue groups depend upon foster pet parents to care for these animals until they are old enough or healthy enough to be adopted, providing a vital bridge to their adoptive families.
Being a foster pet parent helps animals in many ways besides giving needed care and shelter. For example, with kittens and puppies, the foster home environment is better suited for young animals with immature immune systems than the crowded and stressful setting of a shelter. In addition, being in a home environment and getting the love and attention of their foster families prepares them for their future homes and helps socialize them. The same is true for injured and ill animals. The extra love and care from their foster families helps promotes a speedy recovery. As you can see, besides providing a needed lifeline for shelter animals, fostering prepares animals for their future families by exposing them to a loving setting.
If that wasn’t enough of a reason to be a foster pet parent, here is another, especially for parents: the benefits of fostering animals are reciprocal! Having fostered kittens, puppies, dogs, cats, and even ground squirrels, I have witnessed the positive impact of fostering on my family. My children have seen how our love and care helped these animals grow and get healthy for their adoptive families. Fostering has taught them to be gentle and to develop a respect for life. It also showed them the importance of hard work and dedication. There is a great sense of gratification knowing that your efforts saved a life and helped a deserving animal find its family.
For people who are interested in becoming pet parents but who have never had a pet before, being a foster parent is a great way to try out being a pet parent. If you aren’t sure if you and your family are ready to take on a pet for life, fostering may be the answer. You can have a pet in your home for a few weeks to months and determine if your family is ready to make a long-term commitment. It also allows you to determine if a particular pet is a good fit for your family or not. While you might be interested in a puppy, after fostering you may decide an older more settled dog may be better for your home or you may decide you want a cat instead of a dog. After all, becoming a pet parent is a major commitment and you want to be as sure as possible that you are making the right choice.
There is of course one other benefit of fostering shelter animals. As was the case with one of my many foster cats, opening your home and heart to a foster animal can sometimes lead to the addition of a new member to your family. It’s an unintended consequence, but under the right circumstances, fostering the right animal at the right time will serendipitously lead to the realization that your foster animal is a perfect addition to your family.
Foster pet parents play a vital role helping shelter animals that need extra care and attention to become adoptable. Being a foster pet parent is great for the animal, you, and your family. If you are interested in becoming a foster pet parent, contact your local shelters and local animal rescue groups. They will tell you what you need to do to become a foster parent and help you get started.