Maddie's Pet Forum Admin

June is National Foster a Pet Month!

With litters of kittens needing some extra love until they're ready for adoption or for dogs who could use a change of scenery, foster care is the ideal place to house homeless pets.

But finding and recruiting people to foster animals in your community can sometimes be a challenge.

What are some reasons people may be hesitant to foster pets?

  • Kim B.    June 10, 2019 at 12:53 PM

    I work in animal welfare and one main I reason I can't/don't foster is because I travel in the summer (and I NEVER see this issue addressed!). We camp and take small trips on the weekends and usually have a week vacation scheduled sometime during the summer too.

    My first foster experience was years ago with 4 kittens and I thought we'd have them for a few weeks. Several months later we had 2 full grown adult black cats living with us. And that was after we had to scramble to find a place for them to go when we vacationed for a week. The rescue couldn't help us. The cats only got adopted after we paid their adoption fees for someone else. I can no longer commit to fostering an animal for an indefinite amount of time. "Until they get adopted" could be years in some cases.

    I sometimes see fostering advertised as "fun and easy" and while it can be fun at times, I've never found it "easy" (perhaps because I've usually had puppies or kittens). I fostered a dog for a few days and cried my eyes out returning her-- not easy! I foster (when I can) to save lives, not because it's easy. When I see it advertised as "fun and easy" it makes me feel like I must be doing it wrong and it just further discourages me from fostering.

    • Kelly Duer    June 18, 2019 at 05:12 AM

      This is a great point, and one I've been thinking about a lot lately. I think a lot of organizations think that once a pet is in foster it's "safe" so they don't need to think about marketing them much after that. The traditional assumption is that fostering "until adoption" will last for years, which is why a lot of people don't try fostering.

      At our local shelter several years ago, we took home dogs whose behavior was deteriorating in the shelter. You'd think we'd have each of them for months, but the shelter marketed them so well that we only had them for about 3 weeks each. This was great for the shelter- we fostered 18 dogs over a period of 18 months, when we otherwise might have only fostered one-- and great for us, since we had so much flexibility, our attachment didn't get out of hand and we felt like we were being heard. Later, when the shelter's management changed, they stopped marketing dogs in foster much at all, and it was brutal. I think marketing pets in foster is as important- if not more important- than recruiting new fosters.

      • HolisticDogtraining    18 hrs, 34 mins. ago

        You so right. It’s more common in rescue organizations that fosters become the cheap dog boarding place, with no medical care, no behavior support, and limited food support.

        Foster Fatigue is a serious problem that puts the no kill effort at risk.

        Foster People are afraid or are not heard, when the dog shows serious health or behavior issues they rather adopt the dog “foster fail” than return the dog to the system in fear the dog being killed.

        That closes a potential foster home for at last couple of years.

        I feel this is a serious underlying problem that is as important factor to successful nokill community.

    • Jernee    June 10, 2019 at 06:19 PM

      This is great feedback - thank you!

  • SilverCometAWA    June 10, 2019 at 12:25 PM

    As a reminder relevant to this topic, Petco stores are having an in-store event to help rescues recruit foster homes...Sat June 29th, 130 to 330:

    https://www.petcofoundation.org/events/be-a-foster/

    =^..^=

  • Coconnell    June 07, 2019 at 12:58 PM

    As a foster coordinator (for a Cat Shelter), I’ve mostly heard the following reasons:

    - lease says they can only have one cat

    - roommates would not be okay with it

    - not enough time to care for kittens

    - not enough space in their home

    - allergies

    - can’t afford it (we ask our fosters to provide food and litter, although I’m working on this one and having the shelter be able to provide the basics for our fosters)

    - would get too attached/would not be able to handle losing a kitten

    - resident pets would not welcome the idea

    - already fostering for other organizations

    - and many more!

  • afsplays    June 06, 2019 at 08:19 AM

    concern about long term commitment and no clear conversation about when/how to address bringing an animal back. concerns about what they are going to have to DO as a foster and a lack of experience, knowledge etc.

  • Sara Bear    June 06, 2019 at 07:31 AM

    Personal Story:

    I stopped fostering for 7 months because my apartment was infested (I feel, through contact with a foster cat,) with the kind of fleas that bite humans' ankles and feet (for a month before I was able to successfully treat them,), and the shelter (that I worked with at that time,), denied that the fleas came from the foster cat (that I fostered from them). For the previous several months, I hadn't bought any second hand items, had any animals (I have no animals of my own,), or exposed myself to any other source of contagion (so, in my mind, it had to be that cat). Because of that occurrence, I now give a flea-bath to every animal prior to crossing my threshold, because I need to protect myself first, prior to fostering (and giving a flea bath is one of the ways that I now do that).

    Another issue is that underage kittens, especially ones that are orphaned and/or sick, need so much extra care to keep healthy. If you work full-time, underage kittens can be a second full-time job unto themselves (which is exhausting and overwhelming sometimes).

    Also, a quiet little queen who keeps her kittens feeling secure and therefore quiet is a rarity. People who live alone are not as commonly people who can endure the extra stimulation of a raucous cat family. The kitty litter, the messes, and the havoc that they can create can be too much for a quiet person. Even something as simple as any kind of health aide, i.e. CPAP machine/plastic tubing, is vulnerable to a curious kittens' claws and teeth, and these are not inexpensive items to replace.

    Fostering is a labour of love. Fostering requires time and commitment to do well. But it can be worthwhile as, even for a short time, those kittens give back love and life to a lonely person. There are too many lonely people in the world, in big houses and with no one else. If there is a way to reach out to those people, as, two kittens can be quite content by themselves for eight hours in a day, as long as they are in a safe environment. Then, allowing the love the kittens give back, can be its own reward.

  • UCC_Erin    June 06, 2019 at 07:06 AM

    One reason I haven't seen yet is "I travel too much" or I have a trip coming up." When I lived farther from family, that was a reason I stopped fostering for awhile! Eventually, as I became a more core part of the rescue, I was able to vouch for co-fostering and then fostered (with my co-foster who took the critters when I would be gone on the weekends).

  • Ashley B    June 06, 2019 at 05:01 AM

    Everyone is so scared of Ringworm, No time, No space, My animal hates other animals are ones we hear often.

    But back to the ringworm, I wish there was some kind've literature out there to show how easy it is to treat and how your can avoid getting it. It's a horror to me to add perfectly healthy adoptable animals on the list for such a simple thing.

    • eidoriana    June 06, 2019 at 05:44 AM

      Where are you located? I’m sorry you have trouble with people worried about ringworm! We had several litters of puppies dumped on Thanksgiving last year with ringworm. They ended up split between about 10 fosters, not to mention all the people who were handling them on intake before we spotted the lesions—and not one single person got ringworm. Our kittens come in all summer with it. It’s annoying to do the dips and keep them in the system so long, but no one has ever gotten ringworm. There’s got to be a way to change someone minds out there!

  • DebS    June 06, 2019 at 04:53 AM

    Stress to my existing pets and exposure to transmittable disease.

    • tanya    June 06, 2019 at 10:46 AM

      Even though I don't worry about communicable diseases (all my fosters are flea treated before being brought into my home and I quarantine for 2 weeks or longer), I have issues with stress to my resident cats. In fact, I took a 4 month break from fostering in the last year because my cat's were so stressed. And *I'm* the foster coordinator. Even with cat's in quarantine, my own cats hear them and smell them and are aware of them being fed elsewhere in the house. How to make it less stressful on resident pets is one thing I've not seen covered in my reading. I'd love to hear more. I'm very glad I took the break I took. My cats do not seem stressed by the group I'm fostering now but I don't know how they'll handle the next and the next and the next.

      • UCC_Erin    June 10, 2019 at 05:33 AM

        That's a tough one that I'd love to hear more tips/tricks for! I try to keep a double door between my resident cat and new fosters at first (so they can't reach under the door to interact/freak out at each other). I'm also a big fan of Feliway plug ins and calming aids.

        But I never integrate cat fosters into my home/family because my resident cat is very aggressive towards other cats - over time, I've learned what "kind" of fosters he handles best/worst. He does best with mellow/shy/undersocialized female foster cats. Not a fan of kittens. And he absolutely cannot handle recently neutered (or unneutered I suppose) males!

  • JMHRescue    June 06, 2019 at 01:47 AM

    I have fostered repeatedly for a year and was told I’d be reimbursed for food etc. Not one penny. The rescue took advantage of its volunteers.

    • tanya    June 06, 2019 at 10:48 AM

      That's awful. Were financial responsibilities clearly outlined before you took fosters home, ideally in the foster contract?

      • JMHRescue    June 08, 2019 at 03:16 AM

        Live and learn. Things had been done by word. Obviously someone is not good to their word. I’m educating and sharing so more will know we have reached a critical point in rescue and details must be outlined in writing. Those who are not true to their word need to get out of rescue; there’s enough struggles without their drama. I have documented what has been spent and will submit in writing that since this was not reimbursed it is being reported to the state as a donation.

  • Catrinka68    June 05, 2019 at 10:39 PM

    As foster coordinator for our shelter, I find that the main reasons for people being hesitant to foster pets is due to having cats and wanting to foster a dog that does not like cats, or aggression towards other dogs keep them from fostering our dogs as well .

    • eidoriana    June 06, 2019 at 05:47 AM

      This is definitely a major challenge! When we have a dog that is not dog or cat friendly, it’s basically impossible to find a foster home for them.

  • StephanieP    June 05, 2019 at 09:37 PM

    People I talk to said they would become to attached to the kittens and couldn't keep them but would have trouble giving them back: for this reason they can not do it. Other said upsetting the other animals in the house.

    • UCC_Erin    June 06, 2019 at 07:02 AM

      I hear the "I'll get too attached" reason so often and it genuinely frustrates me!! I understand concerns like cost, space, or upsetting your pets or exposing them to something. But this one... I need a kind way to explain that these animals are literally going to die if someone isn't willing to foster them, and "I'm worried I'll cry when they find a home" is not a reason to let them die :/

      • tanya    June 06, 2019 at 10:52 AM

        Some people really are not made to foster but I encourage everyone who is interested and capable of it to at least TRY. They may find that letting go is easier than they thought. OR they may find that, while hard, it is SO rewarding to see them off to a new home. It's so very different from losing a pet to death. I have known people who really were just too attached and didn't foster again. There are people who can't ever let them go and then end up with 'too many cats' and have to stop fostering. I wish more people would at least give it a go with a nice easy adult cat (IMO, the easiest of the various populations).

  • Ayrwolf123    June 05, 2019 at 08:36 PM

    The reasons I hear are expense, upset the current chemistry in house with existing pets causing negative behaviors especially with cats, becoming attached and no time.

  • Krittykat    June 05, 2019 at 08:19 PM

    I would like to foster a cat or kittens, but I’m concerned that my two cats will go crazy. I had my daughter’s two cats in a separate closed bedroom in our house for a short time and our cats hissed, lunged at the door, and were hissing at us. I tried feeding our cats and the other two cats at the same time on each side of the door, but our cats still went berserk and wouldn’t eat, just hiss. It took days after the daughter’s cats left for our cats to settle down.

  • eidoriana    June 05, 2019 at 08:03 PM

    The reason I hear the most from people is that they're afraid to get attached, and I don't think it has much to do with not wanting to give them back, but I think people have a lot of anxiety about where the animal(s) will end up, and if they will have a great life.

    Working in sheltering for almost 15 years, I've fostered a lot of kittens and a handful of dogs, but I've also seen a lot of animals returned and found stray--I still look back at the photos of all my fosters and hope they lived happy, full lives.

    • ChrisG    June 05, 2019 at 10:42 PM

      I’ve fostered about 30 dogs. My main concern is that they get along with my four dogs, and I know certain dogs like adult pits and seniors will most likely take longer to find a home than a cute puppy (even though the puppies are usually more work).

      • UCC_Erin    June 06, 2019 at 06:58 AM

        The ONE time I agreed to foster a litter of 8 week old puppies (I got talked into it because, yes, it'll be hard but it's a short time commitment and they'll be gone soon), the last puppy in the group was with me for over THREE MONTHS (because by then, younger/smaller/cuter puppies were available to adopt...).



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