We are always in need of foster homes. We do not have a shelter and are strictly foster home run, so that means,we can only rescue as many dogs and cats as we have foster homes for. Foster homes are the backbone of our rescue. We never have enough foster homes. They are our most treasured volunteers and the ones that are hardest to get and hardest to keep.
Fostering is a hard job, don't get me wrong, but it is also very rewarding to know that you gave a dog/cat that would otherwise have been euthanized a second chance at finding a family to love them. Some of these animals have been abused and/or neglected and need a little extra TLC. But most of them have had previous owners who can no longer care for them and all they want is someone to play with them, feed them and love them. Yes, it is tough to see them go after you put so much time and effort into loving and caring for them, but when you see the happiness in their eyes when they meet their forever families, it makes it all worthwhile. Now you can move on to help the next dog that needs the special attention and love only a foster home can provide. We need you! It will be tough, but we are here to support and guide you along the way and it gets easier the more you do it!
The following guidelines are intended to provide you with everything you need to understand the obligations of a foster family and allow you to decide whether fostering may be right for you.
Why are foster homes needed?
First and foremost, they provide a more appropriate environment for learning and growth than a place like a shelter or kennel. In a foster home, the animal is exposed to all of the same experiences they would likely get in a real home and have a chance to properly learn, socialize and interact with others. Unfortunately, these opportunities are not an option when living in a shelter. In short, foster homes better prepare dogs/cats for their real home and in turn, make for a smoother transition when that time comes.
Are foster homes important to rescue groups?
Foster homes are the backbone of any rescue organization. The number of animals a rescue can help is greatly dependent on the number of foster homes available. A rescue can have all of the leashes, bowls, food and money in the world available, but no foster space available means no saving.
What is expected of a foster family for AAVA?
Our expectations are rather simple. Care for and love your foster animal as if it was one of your own. If you have questions, ASK. We want your foster experience to be successful and as easy as possible. We have a Facebook group for fosters to help guide you through being a foster.
Guidelines for our foster families :
Plan to keep the animal indefinitely - We cannot guarantee how long you will be asked to foster. Sometimes animals are adopted in weeks. Often times, it will take many months. Foster families should not enter into fostering with an expectation that a dog will be gone in a certain period of time. The length of time it takes a foster to be adopted is often directly related to the amount of energy the foster family puts into training, socializing and attending events.
If you choose to foster a dog who has a potential out of state adopter or rescue offer, you must understand that circumstances may change. The adopter or rescue may change their mind, etc. Again... we cannot guarantee a length of time you will need to foster.
Provide a good home - Foster families are expected to provide a safe, comfortable and healthy environment for their foster. Our foster animals are all to be housed indoors. They should be fed healthy food (available upon request) and given access to clean water. Socialization and training go a long way in helping them get adopted!
Vetting and supplies provided by us- AAVA will pay for the medical care of the animal to include routine check-ups, spaying/neutering, vaccinations, microchip insertion, treatment of routine illnesses and treatment of emergencies should they arise. In All medical is scheduled, and approved, by AAVA ahead of time. AAVA will provide basic necessities upon request - kennels, litter boxes, litter, food, puppy pads, preventatives, etc. If you need something, all you have to do is ask and we will do our best to accommodate.
Treat the animal as if they were your own - Take for walks. Let him/her sleep in your bed. Spoil with toys. Take on adventures. Post on social media. Training and socialization will drastically increase your animals chance at adoption. A litter box trained kitten or house trained puppy is much more appealing.
Participate in adoption events - AAVA will have events and other activities which promote the adoption of your foster. These may include adoption days where the animals are brought out for public viewing, displays on websites, fundraisers, etc. Foster families are expected to be available and work with AAVA to have their animal at such events when possible, provide the appropriate information for websites, including pictures and descriptions/bios or any other activities designed to promote adoption.
Participate in the adoption process - If an applicant is interested in a foster dog or cat and has passed the initial screening, the foster family is expected to contact the applicant to discuss their foster. Fosters may possibly conduct meet and greets with the potential applicant to allow them to meet and interact with the dog or cat. This may entail driving some distance and/or allowing the potential applicant to visit the dog or cat in your home if you are comfortable doing so.
Keep us updated on your foster- Providing updates and pictures always us to update adoption information regularly.
Work on basic obedience commands and house manners - Foster dogs will get adopted more quickly and will stay in their new home once adopted if they know some basic commands such as sit, heel, come, down, and stay. It is also important that they are crate/kennel trained and have basic house manners such as teaching them to not jump on visitors, not counter surf, stay off furniture and sleep on a dog bed or the floor and not your bed. While most cats don't learn basic commands, basic house manners and litter box training go a long way in a successful adoption
What benefits does a foster family get?
Well, hopefully you're not looking into fostering for any benefit other than the personal satisfaction of helping an animal in need. That's the main benefit you'll get from being a foster family and that's what makes our fosters so special. By being a foster family and spending your time with a dog, you know that you are directly helping save a dog. Every foster home equals a life who probably otherwise would not have been rescued. As AAVA pulls animals largely from kill shelters, each foster home brings a chance to avoid that outcome for an animal and get him/her ready for a lifelong home with a good family. For our foster families, that's worth more than money or other incentives. Shelter animals seem to know when they've been saved and the look on your foster face when you take him in and when he's happy with his forever home is priceless.
Won't I get attached to the animal?
You probably will get attached to the animal and in fact, you should. That's the sign of good ownership. We've had many fosters in the past that actually ended up adopting their foster and that's certainly a happy ending that we would welcome. Fosters should take comfort knowing, however, that for each animal they foster and let go, that opens the door for another animal to be saved. So, yes, you're going to get attached and that's ok, and if you decide to keep him, that's great, too. Just remember, there's nothing but an upside to a foster animal finding a permanent home.
What are you looking for in a foster family?
We don't have a generic template for what we're looking for. Our foster families come in all forms and shapes. Overall, though, we're looking for someone who is responsible, mature and dependable. We need someone who loves animals and has the patience to deal with situations which may arise, the willingness to work to find their foster a home, the responsibility to support the adoption process and the heart and compassion to provide the best possible home to am animal that may only be in their life temporarily. We generally want people who are over 21 years old, who have dog/cat experience. We prefer dog fosters to have a fenced in yard (but exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis) or some other secure area for the dog.
Do you ever need short term foster homes?
Yes! We need short term foster homes to prepare the animals for out of state rescue or adoption. We work with numerous rescues who agree to take on the care of an animal but need local assistance to prep the animals for transport. Whereas we cannot guarantee a time frame, often these foster homes are only needed for 2-4 weeks.