“Foster a dog, save a life” is a phrase you’ve likely heard, but newbies to the rescue scene may not realize just how literally true it is. Each day, homeless dogs in high-volume shelters are euthanized due to lack of space. Opening your home and heart to a foster dog not only saves that dog from death row, but also opens a space in a shelter for another dog–resulting in a second chance at life for him, too.
If you’re thinking of becoming a foster home (hello, hero!) there are countless orgs to choose from. While most rescues have their hearts in the right place, practices range from the superb to the downright scary. Looking for these features can guide you to an org that puts the well-being of its dogs and volunteersfront and center:
A foster application that makes it clear that the group wants to get to know YOU! For example, the Good Karma (GK) foster app goes beyond the basics to ask about your dog-training philosophy and even your communication preferences. Generally, there are no right or wrong answers – an in-depth application just means that the org is interested in building a long-term relationship with you, which starts by making sure you’re a good match for each other.
Indication of ample resources for fosters, such as providing food and other supplies for the dogs, and educational materials/programs for the people (ala GK’s free training series). The availability of human help is also a huge plus: some rescues, like GK, run private Facebook groups where volunteers can receive continual peer-support.
Honesty about the commitment needed from fosters. While it’s true that fostering is a heckuva fun gig, it’s also one that involves some elbow grease. As GK Founder and Director Lisa Booth describes it, “GK requires our foster homes to provide more than just love. They also provide structure, patience, and commitment. Fostering is hard work, but you’ll be supported throughout. It’s very important to us that our foster parents enjoy the experience!”
Showcase of happy results. Lisa suggests looking for a rescue with adoption photos and updates on its website: “If their goal is to make good matches, a rescue should be thrilled to post-adoption photos of happy families!”
Seal of approval from current fosters. Take, for example, the words of Sara M., “[GK] is operated professionally and responsibly on all levels, always with the best interest of the animals at the heart of it all.” As another foster put it, “The volunteers at GK are treated like gold.”
Willingness to answer questions. Don’t be shy in asking them – a reputable rescue will appreciate your interest in doing your homework.
There are also a few red flags to heed. Lisa advises, “If a rescue doesn’t insist on conducting a home visit for every foster applicant, RUN!” In addition, glance at the group’s Facebook feed: “A rescue who posts more requests for money than animal-related info and updates, could be a rescue that is not financially stable. This can lead to poor vet care, foster parents being asked to spend out-of-pocket, or the rescue closing down –leaving everyone in a bad place,” she cautions.
While it can be tempting to sign on with the org whose puppy-dog eyes seem the most desperate, or whose website is the fanciest, taking the time to choose a reputable org will result in a rewarding experience for you, your foster dog, and the eventual adopter. Let the life-saving fun begin!
This post was sponsored by Good Karma Animal Rescue of MN, which is looking to increase its base of committed foster homes. Visit GK’s website to learn more about saving a life with them. (We can smell that sweet puppy breath already!) How’s your Karma?
The internet’s most dog-friendly website. Sidewalk Dog is your go-to resource for all things dog. Trusted by more than 250,000 dog people around the world.