If you are considering taking on the rewarding and incredibly helpful task of fostering a homeless animal for Pet Rescue Alliance Inc., you should carefully review the following guidelines, in addition to the Foster Agreement you will be asked to sign.
Foster parents and families form the backbone of the work we do. We cannot exist as a rescue if people are not willing to bring needy animals into their homes while we search for permanent homes for them. Fosters have my undying gratitude and my deepest respect and admiration. There are never enough foster homes to go around, so each is precious to PRA and the animals we are trying to save.
To make your fostering experience as positive as possible for you, your family and your furry charge, please commit the following to memory before bringing him/her home:
- Arrange to introduce the new animal to your own pet(s), if you have them, outside on neutral territory. Once inside, it is best to situate the foster animal in a crate at first, and introduce him/her gradually to other household members. Do not try to make the foster an immediate part of your family. Let him/her settle into the new place, and help him/her learn the rules of the house as soon as possible. Never let the foster take over and place your own animals at risk or under stress.
- Use a training collar to walk a foster so he/she cannot slip from the collar and run off. A dog can easily slip out of a flat collar, which should be worn for identification purposes only. The training collar should be used only for walking and training and should be removed after the session. Keep the training collar attached to the leash at all times. If you need instructions on how the collar is to be worn, please check with an experienced volunteer.
- If you find prospective adopters for your foster on your own, please make them aware of the application process, as well as the PRA requirements and adoption donation. PRA screens applicants very carefully. First, the written application is evaluated. Then a veterinary check is made for all animals the prospective adopter owns or has owned. If the application and vet check are good, a home visit is scheduled. If the adoption is finally approved, a contract is signed, and an adoption fee is paid by the adopters.
- Please keep some clean applications on hand – or have the capacity to print them from the website – to give to promising prospects, or just in case you will be handling the adoption yourself.
- Before taking a foster animal, ask about the animal’s breed, age, gender, temperament, behavior, and why he/she is in need of adoption. Find out to the best of your ability if he/she is a stray, from a shelter, a private give-up, a victim of abuse or neglect, etc. Share any applications you might get on your own with PRA. Remember that not every prospective adopter is approved, and sometimes other applications may be pending. Some animals are more popular than others and can have multiple applications. Others must wait for that special someone. But they all find homes, sooner or later, if we work together.
- Never turn over a foster to someone who claims it is his/her lost pet without irrefutable proof, and even then, the circumstances of the pet’s loss must be carefully evaluated before any action is taken! This person could be mistaken, or he/she could be deliberately trying to mislead you. The animal could have been removed from his/her former home for all kinds of reasons. The claimant could well have mistreated the animal. Immediately report such claims to PRA, and we will investigate.
- If necessary, PRA can lend you a crate, a collar and/or leash. Whenever you transport an animal, make certain you have him/her on a leash, with a secure training and flat collar. No prong collars, please! If you plan to foster on a regular basis, it would be a great help to PRA if you could get a crate of your own. Make sure the animal has ample room to move around when choosing the proper size. Confine all animals being transported in vehicles either with harnesses or in crates. This may not seem like the best choice for the animals, but it is essential for your safety and theirs. Accidents can and do happen when animals are loose in the car. People and animals can and do die.
- Foster families typically provide food, treats and chew toys for foster animals, without reimbursement from PRA. Some pet stores will donate food for foster dogs, so it is worth contacting local pet stores like Petsmart and Petco about this. Fosters may also be asked to participate in transporting animals or assisting in house checks. PRA will provide the necessities if the foster cannot do so.
- If your foster animal becomes ill or gets hurt, contact PRA immediately. PRA covers routine medical expenses, but we must authorize treatments and medications for anything beyond the norm – before they are administered. PRA must also approve the veterinarian caring for the animal. In emergency cases, when every moment could mean the difference between life and death, do not hesitate to take the animal to a vet immediately or to an emergency clinic if something happens after regular vet hours. Contact PRA as soon as possible, but do not wait to take care of the animal. We will work out emergency expenses. Know where your closest vet and emergency centers are located before you foster. Keep the numbers handy and accessible. The time to search is not when you are holding a sick or injured animal in your arms.
- Be careful what you tell potential adopters. Avoid giving advice and criticizing. Also avoid answering questions with absolutes, and never answer questions you are not sure about. Do not mislead inquirers. Ask for assistance when you don’t know something. Tell inquirers you need to check and will get back to them as soon as possible. Always recommend that potential adopters do as much reading about animals and adoptions and about their breed, if applicable. Urge them to sign up for obedience training with a reputable trainer.
- If you have any hesitations, peculiar feelings or “bad vibes” about the adoption or any of the people involved in the adoption of your foster dog or dogs – like the family seems great, except for the angry look on the father’s face – do not allow the adoption to go forward! Say that the final decision is not yours to make, and a PRA representative will get back to them as soon as possible. You do not have to take the heat for your instincts, but it is best to go with them. Try to determine what is giving you pause or making you wary, and take note of it.
- Be very familiar with the regulations and policies of PRA. Most of all, remember that no one can be approved until their application is deemed acceptable, the vet check is satisfactory, and a home visit is completed – in that order. If the adopters are approved, the adoption contract must be signed – by all the adopter(s) and a PRA representative – with all information carefully filled out and checked by you. If there are particular issues to be disclosed about the animal – like health or temperament concerns, or specific vetting arrangements agreed to take place after the adoption – an Addendum signed by all parties involved must accompany the Adoption Contract. Adopters must pay the non-refundable fee to PRA either before taking possession or upon taking possession of the animal. Do not turn any animal over without the signed paperwork and appropriate fee in hand.
- Questions, concerns, comments, ideas should be directed to PRA.
Disclaimer: Pet Rescue Alliance reserves the right to accept or decline any person as a foster for any reason. The final decision on all fosters is up to the vote of the board of directors.