Now more than ever, many homes are looking toward fostering a dog as a source of companionship. It’s great that so many people are thinking of opening their doors. Animal shelters across the country need foster volunteers now more than ever. The Huffington Post reports that “shelters want to move as many animals as possible off the premises and into foster homes, in case they’re hit with staffing shortages as employees and volunteers get sick or need to self-quarantine. “
Why are shelters so reliant on fosters? Simply put, not all dogs can thrive in shelters. A dog is better suited for a home for multiple reasons: they’re a puppy, they’re recovering from an injury, they need practice being in a home before they can be adopted, or the shelter simply might not have enough space. Some rescue organizations are run entirely on fosters. By opening your door to an animal in need, you’re playing a pivotal role in helping them find their home.
Fostering is a win-win-win for shelters, dogs, and fosters. Learn more about the many benefits of fostering below.
Fostering helps a dog in need
The most obvious benefit of fostering is the emotional reward. It turns out doing good makes you feel good. Many dogs in foster homes come from a history of neglect or abuse. The people who foster these dogs feel a great sense of accomplishment seeing their personalities bloom as their fear melts away.
Make no mistake: You’re saving a dog’s life by fostering them. You’re helping them get ready for adoption, whether they need development in their social skills or experience being in a home. If you’re looking for work that truly makes an impact, this is it.
A foster dog gives you company
If you’re currently living alone, a foster dog is a perfect source for companionship. Many foster dogs are shy at first so you may not notice their presence as much. But with the right care, they turn into total cuddle bugs. On top of the mental and physical health benefits volunteering offers, studies have shown that having a dog (even temporarily) is good for you.
A foster dog prepares you for the real deal
If you’ve been wanting a dog but you’re not sure if one fits into your life right now, fostering is a great way to find out. Taking care of a practice pup will show you how a dog fits into your home, what your strengths as an owner are, and the impact a dog will have on your daily life. The best part is you’re not alone. The shelter you work with will offer you support and advice where they can.
Fostering a dog gives you flexibility
Shelters are committed to finding the right foster fit for the animals they rescue. That means they take into account what you’re looking for. You can choose what type of animal you foster (be it dog, cat, or other pets) and in some cases ask for a specific breed of dog. If you have a busy schedule and can only foster for a few days at a time, some shelters have the need for short-term fosters to take in dogs overnight or for a weekend.
If you’re thinking of fostering but have a certain limitation you’re worried about, it’s worth reaching out to your local shelter and seeing if you can make the right arrangements together.
Fostering is affordable
One of the biggest misgivings people have for getting a dog is the expense. Between food, vet visits, walkers, supplies, and more, the annual cost of a dog can range between $1,500 and $9,900. Fortunately, your wallet isn’t nearly as much of a concern if you opt to foster instead. According to The Penny Hoarder, shelters will cover most of the costs for the dog you take care of, including food. If you’re worried you’re not in a financial position to own a dog right now, fostering is a great option for you.
You find a friend for your current dog
If, on the other hand, you already have a dog and you’re wondering if fostering is right for you, the answer is still yes. Many foster homes have permanent pets. Once again, bringing in a foster dog is a win-win situation. Your dog gets some company to play with while you’re out of the house or working. The foster has a “role model” they can learn good behavior from. Being around trained dogs who are comfortable in their homes is a great experience for foster dogs. Just make sure you introduce the two properly.
There’s the chance to meet your new best friend
If you get into the habit of fostering regularly, every dog you bring into your home is another chance to meet your new best friend. Foster “failures” are a common occurrence, but there’s nothing wrong with them. There’s something to be said for seeing a dog transition from less fortunate circumstances to being your full-time pet from beginning to end. You played a critical role in making them happy and healthy again. It’s only natural to grow attached and decide to keep them. The only thing that matters is they found a happy, healthy home.
How to start fostering a dog
Muttville Senior Dog Rescue has a free foster guide you can reference for more information on what to expect when fostering and tips for fostering successfully. Take a look if fostering has you interested so you have a better idea of what you’ll be committing to.
Once you’ve decided fostering is right for you, you can get started by contacting a shelter near you. Most shelters have online applications for fostering, but it’s helpful to call and speak with someone directly about their foster program.
In addition to fostering, there are many other free or low-cost ways to help dogs in need of forever homes, even if you can’t adopt right now.