Foster Care Guidelines
Foster parenting is a rewarding experience for the entire family. It teaches children to love and care for a pet with the intention of finding a loving home. Many lessons can be learned from that. For foster parents, the satisfaction is in saving an animal from a potentially terrible life and being the link that brings that pet to a new owner.
Upon approval, foster parents can choose which type of pet(s) they would like to foster. We in turn will try and match the right pet for you.
We can provide a crate, bowls, supplies, etc., if needed. All medical expenses are also paid by AEAR, as long as they are pre-approved.
BEFORE YOU FOSTER – GENERAL
It is extremely important that you make sure that all of your own pets are up to date on their annual shots and have had the appropriate vaccines (e.g., kennel cough). Your pets should all be protected with flea/tick and heartworm prevention. We cannot be responsible if your pet gets sick due to a foster animal being sick. That is why it’s imperative you protect your pets with preventative medicines.
BEFORE YOU FOSTER – DOGS
Prepare your home for your new foster dog by:
- Having a crate, leash, bowls, harness/collar, etc.
- Setting aside space in your home for the dog and the crate that allows the dog privacy and a place to decompress.
BEFORE YOU FOSTER – CATS
Prepare your home for your new foster cat by:
- Having a litter box, litter, bowls, etc.
- Setting aside a room in your home for the cat. Please make sure the cat or cats are in set up in a room and not allowed access to the entire house.
BEFORE YOU FOSTER – SMALL ANIMALS AND BIRDS
Prepare your home for your new foster pet by:
- Having the appropriate enclosure and supplies.
- Setting aside space in your home for the animal.
- If you are fostering an animal that is sensitive to drafts, cold or hot weather be sure the temperature where the pet will be staying is regulated.
WHEN YOUR FOSTER PET ARRIVES
- You will be provided information on what medical requirements are needed, other expectations such as sending photos and videos regularly, and contact information of various AEAR volunteers.
- Introducing a foster dog: Introductions should be strategically planned out. You know your dog and what is best when your dog meets other dogs. Feel free to discuss options before you get the dog with one of the AEAR experienced dog foster parents or the director. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE YOUR DOG AND YOUR FOSTER ALONE TOGETHER.
- Introducing a foster cat: Introduce the new cat to the other pets in your home very slowly. This may take days or even weeks. Keep the new cat in a separate room, isolated from other animals, for at least a day. Depending on the cat and whether you have the space, it may be best to keep the cat separated for the entire stay at your home. Cats require time to adjust and acclimate to the their new environment. If possible, let them check each other out by smelling each other under the door, or provide another means of limited contact, such as a baby gate. If after many attempts the introductions are going well, you may try supervised introductions in the same room. Don’t expect cats to become fast friends. The best you can and should hope for is cats coexisting with minimal fighting.
- Put frontline flea and tick preventative on your foster dog or cat. (Just ask the AEAR representative you have been working with for it.) During the winter, this won’t be necessary.
TRAINING AND BEHAVIOR FOR DOGS
- Call Sandy KW with any behavioral problems. She will be more than happy to offer advice.
- Treat your foster dog as if they are not housebroken. Keep an eye on them at all times in the house. If necessary, keep them leashed in the house or crated. Create a regular potty schedule. Puppies can hold between potty breaks for approximately one hour for each month of their age. So, a four-month-old puppy can hold it for four hours during the day. Overnight, they can usually hold it longer. All foster dogs should be crated overnight initially. If you are having a problem with housebreaking, contact Sandy KW and she will walk you through it.
- The more you understand about training dogs and correcting behavioral problems, the smoother things will go for you and your new foster dog. We use a positive approach for behavior modification. We NEVER use hitting a dog or a shock collar as a means of training..
- Many of the dogs we get are undersocialized and have certain behavioral problems. It is essential that we socialize dogs as much as possible. Always use extreme caution and go very slowly when introducing your foster dog to new people and situations. If you are not sure if you should do something, don’t do it.
- Never leave your dog tied/tethered outside for any amount of time.
- Never leave your dog alone in a fenced yard longer than 15 minutes. Only do this after you are certain they will not jump the fence or dig underneath.
- Never let your foster dog off leash in an unfenced area!
- Never leave your foster dog in a car alone.
- Do not use a retractable leash, a pinch collar, or a choke collar. Leashes and harnesses are available for you to use.
FEEDING YOUR FOSTER ANIMAL
- Please feed your foster pet only food twice a day. Puppies under six-months-old should eat three times per day. Feel free to ask for some advice on dog food brands or types of food.
- Please do not give a foster dog rawhides, greenies, edible nylabones, or squeaky toys. (Little dogs that don’t chew a lot can have squeaky toys.)
- Foster parents need to be available to bring the pet for some of the adoption events. Most often, adoption events are on a Saturday or Sunday. Please make sure to look at our volunteer database to see where and when events are taking place and sign up when you can go. On occasion, if you cannot attend, we can make arrangements to pick up the animal. Some dogs and cats won’t do well at events because they are too scared or reactive. Those dogs and cats won’t be able to go. Please share your thoughts with us when you get to know your foster pet and whether you think they will do okay at an event. Keep in mind there will likely be a lot of people, other animals, loud noises, etc.
- During adoption events, the foster parent is in charge of watching their foster pet and answering any questions about the pet. Please do not let potential adopters take your foster for a walk without you or leave your foster unattended with them.
- Please purchase an AEAR t-shirt and wear it to all AEAR events.
SPECIAL CARE FOR CATS
It could take weeks for your new foster cat to acclimate with the other animals in your house. Do NOT introduce them to your crew right away. That could spell disaster. Begin by having the new cat in his own room with a litter box, food, water, somewhere to sleep and things to do. Let him sniff under the door and let your pets do the same. After a few days you can put up a baby gate blocking that room and when supervised let the animals greet each other through the gate. When not supervised keep the door closed. This can be a slow and tedious process. After a week or so of that, keep the gate up and door open for short times when you are not supervising. While cats can jump a gate, typically they respect the barrier and it gives them security to know where their spaces are. Over maybe two weeks to a month, the animals in the house should adjust and can live together. You may opt to put the foster cat in his room when you leave for the day and/or at bedtime. Don’t feel bad about it! The alternative is a shelter or the streets.
All vet visits must be pre-approved by Sandy KW. Any vet visits made without approval will not be reimbursed.
EMERGENCY MEDICAL CARE
- The best way to avoid an expensive emergency vet visit is observe your foster pet carefully and catch any illnesses before they become serious. Look for signs such as lethargy, loose stools, vomiting, sneezing, and coughing.
- At the first sign of an illness, contact Sandy KW. Also, to avoid your foster pet getting injured, never let them outside off leash in an unfenced area, and be very cautious when introducing them to animals outside of the home.
THE ADOPTIVE FAMILY
- Rest assured, we will always choose a new family very carefully.
- Other than adoption events, prospective adoptive families will first be screened by having them fill out an application and go through the adoption process before setting up a time for them to meet the pet. (Occasionally we may schedule a one-on-one visit before approval but that is very rare.)
- Only applicants that are pre-screened and approved will meet the pet.
- When a possible adopter looks like a good fit, we will contact you and have you set up a time for the new family to meet the foster pet. It could be at an adoption event or pet store or a place everyone chooses that is convenient and makes sense.
- We want your input. You know your foster pet better than anyone else.
- Please keep in regular contact with us. Contact Sandy KW regularly and let her know how the animal is doing. We recommend at least three updates per week along with photos. The best way to send them is to Sandy via text to her cell phone.
- Keep litter boxes clean by scooping them out daily.
- Have a spot in your home you can use to separate your foster pet from other pets if it becomes necessary.
- If you agree to foster an animal, it is important you commit to fostering them until they are adopted.
- Please notify us at least two weeks in advance of any trip you are planning, and tell us what you would like to do with the pet while you are away. All care of the foster pet outside of the contracted foster family must be approved in advance.
- Make sure you have our phone number with you at all times as well as the number of a couple of other volunteers in case of an emergency.
- If you have a child under 16, please do not let them walk the dog outside a fenced area. Only the foster parents should do that.
- Do not leave the care of your foster pet to someone outside of the family, unless you get prior consent.
- Foster parenting is a lot of work. The pet will need time to adjust to your home. They may be stressed on arrival and take sometimes a few weeks to settle in. They may have accidents in your home initially until they are reminded where to go (in a box, in the case of a cat). They may chew things up and grab things off the counter as well. Your best assurance that won’t happen is if you crate them or leave them in a “childproof” room while you are away.
IF YOU DECIDE TO ADOPT YOUR FOSTER PET
- Occasionally, foster families decide to adopt their foster pet. Sometimes, the thought of giving up an animal they have fallen in love with is too upsetting. We try to stress that we must look at the big picture. If we adopt a foster animal, the animals waiting to be rescued are left behind. (If a foster family decides to adopt but can and will continue to foster, this is another matter.)
- Should you decide to adopt your foster pet, please let us know as soon as a decision is made. It is very hard on the people who fill out an application to go through the whole process only to be told the animal is no longer available.
- Adoption of the pet must be approved by the adoption screener. There is a small possibility you could be turned down. The reason for not being approved could be that the foster animal is not getting along with your other pets, the animal is not good with small children and you plan on having children in the future, or a number of other valid reasons.
- The first step in adopting your foster pet is to fill out an application. Afterwards, you must read and sign an agreement. The adoption donation would apply. We rely heavily on adoption donations to continue functioning.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
- Lavish tons of love and attention on your foster pet. They have been through so much. Sometimes all they need is to know someone loves them.
- Some cats and dogs that come to us have never learned to play with toys. Teach them and see their face light up!