You did it: you decided to commit to the life-saving work of fostering a dog. Maybe a pair of puppy-dog eyes, longing for a home of their own, caught your eye on Facebook. Or maybe you learned that each year, more than 1.5 million dogs and cats are euthanized in overcrowded shelters. Either way, you’ve carefully chosen an organization and you are SO ready to welcome a foster dog into your home.
Next on your to-do list? The foster application. Here are some tips on completing this important piece of virtual pupperwork–er, paperwork so that you can get right to the fun part of fostering:
- Be prepared. Before launching into the application, paw-ruse the rescue’s website. Many have FAQ sections that’ll detail their mission and values; this can give you a deeper sense of what they’ll be most interested in learning about you.
- Be honest. Rescues aren’t looking for perfection in your answers. They’re looking for a full picture of what you’ll be like as an animal caretaker and volunteer. For example, many rescues encourage applicants who have experience (or not), a fenced-in yard (or not), and lots of free time (or not). Think of the application not as a test of your “worthiness,” but as a way for you and the rescue to learn about each other, and maximize the chance of a floof-ful partnership.
- Be thoughtful. The application may include questions about the potential foster-dog traits and behaviors you are — and more importantly, aren’t — going to be able to manage, so think carefully about your personal doggy dealbreakers (e.g., chewing, excessive barking, feuding with your own pet). Most rescues will do their best to match you with a foster dog who will be a good fit for your household, and it’s okay to describe a couple of preferences in the application.
- Be complete. If the application asks for contact information for references such as a veterinarian or landlord, it’s essential to include it. Give these folks a heads up about your application so that they can be ready to chat about your love for and expertise in caring for pups.
- Be patient. Expect to wait up to one week to hear back about your application. Rescue workers have jam-packed schedules; most are run mainly (or entirely) by hardworking volunteers with non-rescue day jobs. Sit tight and have faith that you’re well on your way to being one of the most important people in the world of animal rescue: a bone-a-fide foster home. And when you gaze into the grateful eyes of your very first foster dog? It’s SO worth the wait.
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