You’ve seen the word tossed around a lot lately, and you probably know someone that is doing it – but what exactly does it mean to foster a pet?

Fostering a pet means that you are opening your heart and home to a pet that is currently homeless.  You provide a safe and stable environment for a pet who cannot be with their family.  An environment that feels like home instead of a shelter, is usually best for pets.

Pets, like people, need a place to feel safe; a place where they can let their guard down and relax, where they don’t have to worry about where the next meal will come from, what other animal might challenge them in the night, or if they will be warm and dry.  Many pets have been neglected or abused and don’t know what a loving home feels like.  Foster families help them learn what it’s like to eat, sleep and play in a safe space.

Foster homes play an important role in caring for pets in an often-overburdened system.

So, what types of dogs can benefit the most from fostering?

  • Nursing moms: they need quiet and safe places to care for their babies without fear of predators or environmental challenges.
  • Motherless puppies: from itty bitty neonates to toddlers learning to play, young pups need an extra set of eyes on them while they grow healthy enough to be adopted. Have a specific question about this?
  • Sick and injured dogs: These fidos often heal and recover quicker in a home than in a shelter environment.  Having a quiet, safe home to relax and be loved, allows the immune system to focus on the body’s needs.
  • Stressed dogs: Often adult dogs struggle to make the sudden adjustment from home life to a kennel. There are strange sounds and smells, their favorite blanket is gone, the food is different, and there’s no doggie door to go outside!  For those dogs that shut down, foster is the opportunity for them to stabilize while the foster parent helps market them for a forever home.
  • Hospice dogs: No pet should spend the end of their life in an impersonal shelter environment.  As great as your shelter may be, a home is typically better.  A fospice home keeps a terminally ill or senior dog comfortable, for as long as they can, until they can’t.  Many times, a dog that was predicted to have weeks left, ends up sticking around longer due to the love and care they receive in a foster home.

Groups all over the country continue to need your help.  Talk to rescues and shelters in your area to find out more about their foster program and the help they need.  If you don’t know who is saving lives in your area, sign up here to be connected.