Pet Fostering – How to become Foster Pet Parent

Foster a Pet

The Dodo channel has brought in a much-needed understanding of the term foster pet parenting. Fostering animals is a noble practice of allowing the temporary shelter to animals who might be too young or too sick for shelters.  Fostering not only helps the animals in need but lifts the pressure on animal shelters, which are constantly understaffed and resources and unable to care for these special cases.  In many instances, if there are no adopters or fosters, many sick or old animals are sent for euthanasia in high-kill shelters.

Fostering is usually required in the following situations:

  • When the animals are too young to be adopted
  • Injured or disabled animals with special needs who require extra medical attention Usually work for experienced pet parents. 
  • Abused and neglected animals who are unable to trust humans
  • Nursing animals. 
  • Animals who escaped or were displaced under unfortunate circumstances and await their owners
  • Any animal unable to adjust to the shelter environment needs a family and a home. 
  • Growing animals need to form healthy bonds with humans.

Shelters and animal rescues are always on the lookout for foster pet parents. They match the pet parents with the animals (primarily dogs and cats) in a way that complements each other. For instance, a dog whose previous owners have abused will be physically and emotionally withdrawn. In such cases, an experienced foster pet parent will be the ideal match. 

How Can You Become a Foster Pet Parent?

Like adoption, before you become a foster parent, there are specific rules you have to go through.

  • After you contact the shelters in your area to determine if they have a foster program, you will go through a background check.
  • If you are not trained in fostering before, you will be given a lesson on fostering a pet in your home.
  • If you already have other animals or children, you might be given more preference as it’s an excellent way to learn whether or not the pet is suitable for certain types of adoptive placements.

Is Pet Fostering the Right Step for You?

While fostering a pet is one of the most beautiful things you can do, you have to assess whether this is the right thing for you. A lot depends on your lifestyle and ability to handle animals.  Many shelters and rescues offer hands-on training to foster parents: educating them about the pet’s emotional & physical requirements, their temperament, and medical assistance, to name a few.  It would be best if you considered the following essential factors to determine whether pet fostering is for you or not.

Responsibilities of a Pet Parent

Being a pet parent means you are responsible for that animal. The responsibility includes:

Training: If you are bringing home a neglected/abused pet, you are more likely to work with them on emotional and mental training where they will learn to trust humans and let go of their past. On the other hand, tiny members require intensive training that includes their toilet training, feeding habits, basic commands, and much more. Consider that before you sign the dotted lines. 

Day-to-day care: This is especially important when it comes to young ones or the disabled/injured ones. For instance, bottle feeding is a round-the-clock job for which you need to have the patience and the bandwidth. From feeding to grooming to behavioral training, being a foster pet parent will require utmost dedication and time from your end. 

Finding a forever home: While many shelters and rescues leverage their own network to find forever homes, they might require input from the foster parents. In many cases, it will be up to you to look for forever homes for your pup, check the amenities there, assess the potential pet parents, check the neighborhood, and so much more. You can always get in touch with trainers, vets, and experienced pet owners for help. 


Expenses are a big part of having a pet, even when fostering. From their meals to medical bills and vet visits, a pet parent must be ready for their tyke’s expenses. 

Veterinary bills: Whether your foster is old and fading or healthy and young, vet visits are non-negotiable. Being a foster pet parent, it is your sovereign duty to take your pet to vets, who, to be honest, don’t come cheap. In addition to visits, immunizations and medicines might add to the expense list. Put this at the top of the consideration list before you decide to foster a pet.

Pet insurance: Speaking of vet bills, you can avoid them with pet insurance. However, getting pet insurance is also a costly affair where premiums are often decided upon the breed of the dog, your home style, etc. 

Food and other accessories: Your foster pet needs to eat and requires certain accessories like some toys, a leash, and a collar, to name a few. 

Also read about: 10 Dog Behavior Problems and How to Solve them

Miscellaneous Conditions

Apart from the health factor and your pet’s well-being, there are a few other considerations to look into before you pick up pet fostering.

Duration of the pet’s stay: Some pets need to stay longer at their foster homes for a multitude of reasons. These can be health-related, time is taken for finding forever homes, and many more. You might be hosting the pet for more months than anticipated, and that should be okay with you if you want to foster a pet. 

Family members: Before fostering a pet, ask your immediate family members if they are okay with having an animal at home. If there is disharmony among the members, this might be counterintuitive for the pet and raise issues during their adoption. Foster pets need to be raised in a loving home where they are not negated in any manner.

Age and ability of the pet: Geriatric pets or those with physical and neurological issues require more care than others. Are you experienced enough to take on a special needs pet?

Other pets: Do you have pets of your own? Before bringing in foster pets, understand whether your own pet is social and comfortable with another animal on their turf. Many pets help their owners raise their foster friends the right way. In the case of senior pets, they take care of young foster pets, teaching them about their way of life, which is very healthy for the young ones. 

Legalities: Check the laws of your neighborhood. Many areas cap the number of pets one house can hold, and this may intervene in the fostering process. 

Foster paralysis: This is a very serious matter. Many foster parents form deep bonds with their foster pets and are unable to let them go – a situation known as foster paralysis. Unless they adopt these pooches, this can be detrimental for the pet. Can you let your foster pet go after some time? Are you ready to face the fact that they might not be adopted at all and may have to go back to the shelter?

Myths about Fostering Pets 

  • You cannot foster pets if you are working: Fostering pets is ideal for working people who want to understand the experience and see if they can adopt a pet. This is a good way of picking up experiences before one makes the final decision. 
  • Pet fostering is tough if you already have a pet: This is not true. If you have a pet, then there are chances that they might help you with the process. It is always recommended that you talk about your pet’s temperament with the shelter authorities, who can give you the best advice about pet parenting for more than one animal. 
  • I will not be able to give my foster pet away: If you are fostering a pet, it is clear that you love animals and want to help. Rescues and shelters offer counseling sessions on avoiding foster paralysis, which can help you be prepared to give away your pooch.
  • Only sick pets need fostering: No. Fostering is for all. As discussed, young ones, injured animals, and even senior pets require fostering. Sometimes fostering is essential for shelters to make room for more critical cases until someone adopts these animals.

How to Make Your Home Foster Pet Ready?

Pet fostering requires some serious changes, and we are not talking about your lifestyle but your home, which you will now be sharing with those pooches.  Here’s a checklist to ensure your foster pet is safe and happy with you. 

  1. Keep all toxic and poisonous elements like detergents and sanitizers away from the pet’s reach. 
  2. Cover open wires and sharp objects to avoid injury.
  3. Keep your toilet lids close. 
  4. In the case of a senior pet, try to soften the floor with carpets to aid their aching and sensitive joints. 
  5. Ensure that your garden is well fenced and secure so that your pet doesn’t run away. 
  6. Keep all the dangerous tools away from their reach. 
  7. Give them their corner, complete with their bed, food, and toys, so that they have a space to call their own. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How to find pets available to foster near me?

Visit local animal shelters or visit websites calling for foster care. You can also join online communities where you are notified about foster and adoption news. 

Is pet fostering a paid activity?

No. Fostering a pet is a service and act of love towards animals. No one is paid for taking care of these animals. 

How do I know if I am ready to be a foster pet parent?

You can talk to shelter authorities, pet trainers, and vets, who will tell you all about the prerequisites of being a foster pet parent. You can assess these points and determine whether you have the space and time for pet fostering.


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