When it comes to bringing a new pet into your home and your life, it is always very wise to choose a shelter pet. Not only are you giving the shelter pet a second chance at living a wonderful life, you are supporting a shelter. Shelters work hard to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome pets, as opposed to breeders who sometimes appear to care more about profit than anything else. In fact, knowing that one is saving lives and relieving shelter space can make one desire to adopt more pets than they actually have room for. Fortunately, there is another way to achieve this same satisfaction in helping homeless pets without having to adopt every single pet one encounters–through fostering.

What to Know About Fostering

When you foster a pet you are giving this animal a quiet, calm space in which to relax and recuperate while he is preparing for his forever home. You are also relieving shelter crowding and getting the pet used to a normal home environment, which can make their transition into their forever home all the smoother. However, deciding to foster a pet means that one is making a commitment that includes numerous responsibilities. To that end, here are some basic things to consider before choosing whether to foster a pet:

  1. The socialization and training required. Many young animals need a lot of handling, socialization, and training in order to become good pets, and until they are adopted into their forever home this responsibility falls to the individual who is fostering them. As you may already be well aware, socialization and training a pet are not part-time jobs, but often require a lot of time and energy–at least initially–which means that one must be willing to spend plenty of both while they are fostering a pet.
  2. The foster pet’s health. Providing healthcare for foster pets is not just about cost, which the rescue agency should cover, it is also about your time and attention. You will need to ask and get answers to important pet health questions, and then devote the time and attention necessary to ensure that the pet’s healthcare needs are fully met through a variety of veterinary and at-home services. For example, extremely young animals often require bottle feeding around-the-clock, which means that one must be available throughout the day and the night to provide this important care. As another example, foster pets may need to be taken to the vet for spay/neuter surgery, teeth cleaning or other important healthcare visits.
  3. The extra cost of a foster pet. As stated earlier, the rescue agency should cover veterinary expenses, but they are often unable to cover basic expenses such as food, kitty litter or toys. This is actually one of the reasons that rescue agencies are so grateful to those who can foster–it helps to relieve at least some of the financial burden of caring for these pets. For you, this means that extra costs will need to be considered beforehand, especially if you are considering fostering a larger animal that will need more food. It also means that you may have to cover the cost of a pet sitter if you choose to leave town for work or vacation while the foster pet is still under your care.
  4. The adoption events you will need to attend. There are a few rescue groups that allow pet adoptions to occur online, but many hold adoption events at various local venues in order to find forever homes for their pets. This means that you will need to be available to take your foster pets to these events as often as is necessary until they find their forever home.
  5. The possible long-term commitment you are making. Some pets are exceptionally lucky and find their forever homes very quickly, while others can take a while to find their perfect forever home. This means that while you may sometimes foster a pet for only a few short weeks, you may also sometimes foster a pet for many months.

In addition to these main things to know about fostering a pet, it is important to consider whether you will be totally prepared to have your foster pet leave when they have been placed in their forever home. It is very easy to fall in love with the animal that you are caring for and spending so much time with, but this means that it can be incredibly difficult to let them go when their forever home has been found. If you feel like this could be a problem for you, it may be wise to reconsider whether fostering is actually the right choice for you.