Not sure if you’re ready to adopt a pet? Become a foster parent!
“Fostering is like babysitting. You just don’t know when the parents are going to come for the little guy,” say expert foster parents Chris & Scott Beebe, “It’s an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of countless animals that could otherwise be euthanized.’
The Beebe’s should know, they’ve fostered over a dozen dogs/puppies and countless litters of kittens; including sick animals that heal faster in a home environment. Over time, they’ve learned what it takes to help animals become healthy, happy pets and quickly find their adoptive family. Their advice…prepare yourself and your family by following their 5-step process.
STEP 1 – Understand The Foster Agreement. Do research and learn everything you can about PAWS and the animal you are considering fostering. Before you foster, understand what PAWS will provide; what costs you will be responsible to pick up; and what PAWS expects from you as a foster parent.
“PAWS makes it easy to be a foster parent,” says Chris Beebe, “the support they provide allows us to focus on what these babies need most…love, training, and structured direction.”
PAWS Provides Foster Families:
- Basic medical care and medication (review foster agreement for specific care details)
- Food and litter (when donations are available)
- Education on how to care for your foster animal
- Toys, collar, leash and bedding
The Foster Family Requirements:
- A safe, loving and nurturing environment for your foster animal
- The training each animal needs to successfully integrate into a new family
- Human and or other animal socialization for shy animals (as directed by PAWS staff)
- A place for sick animals to recover
- A fenced-in back yard
- Actively marketing your foster pet by:
- Attending weekly adoption events with your fostered dog
- Using social media and other marketing avenues to let potential adopters know about your fostered pet
STEP 2 – Determine what being a foster parent means before you foster. Before you take on your first foster dog or cat, get clear about the outcome you hope to have for the animal. “Our goal is to foster the animals that need it most and prepare them for a successful adoption,” says Chris. “For example, LIllith was heartworm positive and needed a quiet environment to recover during treatment. As foster parents, it’s critical that we select animals we believe we can help. Dogs and cats that are easily adoptable will easily find a home. Those that are timid, skittish or need training will benefit the most from our foster home. It will mean the difference between quickly finding their new family and living months – even years at PAWS.”
STEP 3 – Prepare yourself emotionally. The impact foster parents have on an animal’s life is an amazing opportunity and, can be bittersweet. Scott Beebe understands that all too well and says, “I had gotten used to Lillith’s sweet demeanor. The day she was adopted, I came home to a quite house and felt a sharp sting in my heart. I was happy for Lillith and felt a personal loss at the same time.’ Scott recommends you ask yourself these questions before you foster:
- Do you have the patience to allow these animals to grow and learn in a healthy environment?
- Are you committed to potty training, bottle feeding, teaching basic commands or training them how to politely walk on leash?
- Are you prepared to have the foster pet as long as it takes to find an adopting family (days, weeks, months)?
- Are you willing to emotionally let go of the animal and allow them to be adopted?
STEP 4 – Foster proof your home. Foster dogs and cats may be nervous upon entering your home. It’s wise to remove any items that the foster pet may use as a chew toy, scratching post or potty. When fostering cats and kittens, purchase a scratching post, learn how to trim nails and take steps to protect your curtains and furniture. For dogs and puppies, purchase a crate to potty train or use gates to protect valuable flooring.
STEP 5 – Create success on day one. “Animals can get food anywhere,’ says Chris Beebe. “The first thing they need from you is to know immediately that they are safe.’ To assure that happens, Beebe recommends the following as soon as you bring your foster pet home:
Take them straight from the car to the spot where you want them to potty and stay there until they do just that.
If you currently have a dog and are bringing a new dog into the home, introduce them on neutral ground. Take both animals to a place that your dog doesn’t view as part of their home and allow them to get to know each other in this neutral space. Take them on a long walk together before you actually bring them into the yard or home.
Each year over 850 dogs and cats enter PAWS no-kill shelter. Many are adopted quickly into happy new families. Some are nervous, skittish or have never learned proper manners. By becoming a foster parent, you make a huge difference in the number of animals rescued – and their adoption into loving homes.