Have you ever considered fostering? It’s a wonderful and vital part of our ability to save lives, and it is so rewarding. We provide a crate or pen (as each case dictates), and fosters never pay for medical care or heartworm preventative. We can even provide food if it’s necessary, though most often, foster homes provide their own. So what are a foster family’s responsibilities?
1) Fill out an application. All foster homes are required to go through the same process that our adopters would, unless you have adopted from our group previously. Potential foster homes must fill out an application, be subject to veterinary references, and have a home visit. Once this is completed, we’ll determine the best potential dogs for your situation and give you those options. Just like with an adoption, we want to make sure your foster dog is a good fit, so we will not place a dog who is not appropriate for small children in a foster home with small children or a dog that easily jumps gates in a foster home with a four-foot fence, etc.
2) Providing daily care in the home. Our rules for fosters are the same as they are with adopters. Dogs are kept inside the home (no leaving them outside unattended for any kind of extended period like trips to the store etc.) and treated like a family member. They’re fed twice a day (no free-feeding), given heartworm prevention every month, and taught the rules of the house. It’s rare that dogs come to us perfectly housebroken, so a foster family needs to be prepared to work on these skills just like you would with any new dog in your home. Keeping the dog safe, healthy, and happy is the top priority.
3) Bringing your foster to adoption showings (if applicable). While we never do on-site adoptions, we hold meet-n-greets at least a few weekends every month so that potential adopters can meet the dogs in person and the dogs get more exposure. We’ve had events all over the DFW Metroplex, and we even have some in Wichita Falls. Some of our pups will never make it to an adoption showing, like our extreme seniors and our dogs who are incredibly shy or easily overstimulated, but any dog that can be at a showing infinitely increases his or her chances of having that special someone meet them and fall in love. It does our fosters no good to be in foster homes that basically want an extra dog in the house, but don’t want the financial responsibility. Our foster homes need to be dedicated to helping find that perfect home for a pup, and if, once they’re home with you, you find that perfect home is yours, adoption is an option! If you can’t commit to bringing your foster dog to adoption showings within a 60 minute drive of your home at least once a month, or if you live outside of our normal showing area, we ask that you consider fostering dogs who, for medical or temperament reasons, do not attend.
4) Letting your foster dog go. This is often the hardest part of being a foster home, but the most necessary to fulfill our mission of helping as many dogs in need as possible. Yes, many times we cry when our foster dogs leave the nest to live with their forever family, but there are always happy tears mixed in! Our foster homes are absolutely involved in selecting the best home for their foster. We count on you to help us understand what that will be, because you see the dog every day and are the one who will know them the best. You will be the one who will know if the dog barks too often/loudly to make them a suitable candidate for potential adopters who live in apartments, for instance. We respect our fosters, and never want them to feel left out of the most important part of the process. It is important, however, that you prepare yourself for adoption. It can happen in as little as a few weeks, but many times it takes much longer, so it is important to remember you are essentially babysitting somebody else’s perfect pup and not bringing in another family member. 😉
A few important notes:
-We reserve the right to remove a dog from a foster home for any reason. Our foster dogs legally belong to the group, and you have no legal rights over the dogs in your care.
-Many people want to know why we don’t let foster homes pick out dogs they want to bring in from a shelter or owner surrender instead of fostering a dog already in the group. As the group is ultimately responsible for the care of the dog (especially financially), and we don’t have boundless resources, our founder selects the dogs who will be in the program. One of the main reasons for this rule is that if a person begs and pleads to bring a dog into the group, and once they get it home they realize it isn’t going to work out for their situation, the dog is now in limbo and without a foster home. All of our foster homes typically stay full, so scrambling to place a dog who has already proven itself to be a tough fit in your home into someone else’s home is a serious issue.
-We do not play musical chairs with our foster homes. It’s detrimental for the mental health of our dogs to be bounced from place to place. If we match you with a dog that is just not workable for your situation, or your situation suddenly changes, we will certainly take that dog back, but recognize that we aren’t looking for ‘fair-weather fosters’ who aren’t prepared for both good times and bad times. Just like with your personal dogs, your foster dogs will sometimes have bad days, break the rules, and push your buttons, but it’s all part of the experience!
If you have any questions about fostering or want to talk to a foster within the group about their experience, please don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . To fill out an application to foster for Little Dogs Big Hearts Rescue, please click here.