For those of you that may be considering becoming foster parents to a lucky shelter dog… first of all, THANK YOU! It is a wonderful gift to be able to assist the rescues, the shelters, and the dogs themselves. In a previous post, I spoke with you about how we are preparing our family and our home for our foster dog. I thought I might give you a bit of background on the process of becoming a foster family.
1. Research Reputable Rescue Groups
I was first introduced to the world of fostering by my friend Francine, whom I mentioned in yesterday’s post. She would share photos on facebook of dogs from the shelters in New York City that have a high kill rate, and I was desperate to find a way to help these highly adoptable dogs before it was too late. You can check them out here, and I urge you to do so if you think it might be the right fit for you. She has even fostered a few pups from there, with the help of this rescue. The problem with this process, is that the dogs have very little time between when they are listed on the website, and when they are euthanized. Added to that, you need to be able to pick the dog up in person at the NYC shelter, within 48 hours of reserving them. With a hectic personal life and work schedule, this was not an option for me. In that case, you can fill out applications through certain rescues that have been approved to pull from the shelter in NYC. These rescues will then typically pick the dogs up from the shelter, and hold them for you until you can arrange transportation. Usually, you will then serve as a foster family for their organization, so before you can select the dog, you must pass their stringent application process.
The problem with this process, for us, was that our applications seemed to have gotten lost in the shuffle, even though we submitted them to 4 different approved groups. Knowing what I know now, I should have then gone to the extra effort of finding phone numbers or contact information for individuals within the group, and pursued the matter further. However, being new to the process, I assumed that the rescue would contact me if they had interest in our application.
We also visited a few large, well-known rescues in our area. We attended tours of the facilities, as well as meetings for volunteers and informational sessions for foster families. We were very impressed by their organization, funding, and sheer numbers. However, we felt as though we should search for a group that was smaller, and had a greater need for us.
2. Select the Right Organization for You
We will be working with LCPO, or the Luzerne County Pit Bull Owners, Inc. You can visit their website here, and check out their precious adoptable pooches here! You may be wondering why we would choose an organization in Northeastern Pennsylvania, when we live in Pittsburgh. I asked myself the same thing! I do not want to bash any rescue organizations on here. Every group does the best that they can, with likely limited resources of staff and finances. However, we were very disappointed in the lack of response we got for many of our applications. LCPO was one of the only groups that got back to us right away. Not only that, but they sent us a welcome packet of information, letting us know what their organization was about, important contacts, and what to anticipate when fostering a dog through them, as well as their expectations of their foster families. For a nerd like myself, this influx of information was exactly what I needed! They are a very well-run and organized group, and I feel very lucky to have not only found them, but to have been so warmly welcomed. You can also check them out on their facebook page.
The high level of communication and strong organization of LCPO is what most attracted us to working with them, but when considering the many rescue groups, there are a multitude of important factors to consider.
The financial aspect is vital, as it can vary between rescues. You need to ask yourself what you can afford to contribute financially. Most rescues will cover the animal’s veterinary care, at a minimum. In our case, we are electing to pay for all other costs, including the crate, collars, leashes, food, bed, toys, etc, although this is not a requirement through LCPO. We have budgeted this money into our financial plan, and feel that it is one more way we are able to give back to the rescue group. If this is the route you choose, it is important to save your receipts, as they can serve as a tax-deductible donation to the rescue. Be sure to consider all costs thoroughly, before agreeing to take on a foster animal. The last thing anyone would want, would be for you to have to return the animal because of financial constraints.
Another important consideration will be the time commitment. I am not just referring to how many hours per day of your time that the dog may require. Rather, you must consider how long you are willing to keep the foster. The stay can range from a matter of days, to many months. It is important to be up front with the rescue about what sort of time frame you are able to accommodate. Do not assume that if you can only hold a dog for a few weeks, that you will not be considered. This can be the perfect amount of time for a puppy to get out of a stressful shelter environment, learn some basic manners, and become house-broken. There is usually an ideal dog for every situation, so select a rescue that is willing to work with you to find a scenario that is mutually beneficial.
3. The Application Process
The applications for each rescue we worked with were largely quite similar. One thing that stood out among all of them, was the sheer length! Our final submitted application for LCPO was over 7 pages. To me, this shows that they are thorough in wanting to find out as much as possible about their foster families. However, I did walk away feeling as though they knew more about me than my own employer!
It can be tempting to stretch the truth on the applications you submit. You have high hopes for your plans with the foster, and want to convey this to the rescue organization. However, it is vital to your fostering experience, and for the well-being of the animal they place with you, that you maintain honesty at all times. It is especially important to list the proper information about your own pets, as well as their compatibility with other animals, to ensure the safety of all involved. The rescue will then analyze all of the information that you provide, and match you with a dog that is best suited to your lifestyle. For example, f you have young children and a busy work life, then a puppy may not be the right fit. Most rescues are not looking for the ‘perfect’ application. They should not turn you away simply because you work, or because you do not have a fenced-in backyard. However, they want to see that you have a knowledge of how a dog should be cared for, and priorities that are in line with their own.
4. The Home Visit
Our own home visit will be occurring this Monday, so I can’t offer much first-hand experience. I should confess that I am feeling a bit nervous about it! Of course, I think that our dogs have the best life any pup could ask for. With lots of room to run, toys to play with, ponds to swim in, and comfy beds for cuddling, it’s pretty much their idea of doggy heaven! However, it may look different from the eyes of our reviewer.
I brought my questions to some other members of the LCPO group, and they assuaged my fears by assuring that it is “to make sure you’re not a crack-head or hoarder“. Whew! After some NA meetings and a deep spring cleaning, I can cross that off of my list. Kidding!! But in reality, they have had instances where potential foster homes were denied, based on their home visit. The main point to keep in mind is that they are wanting to verify that your living situation reflects your application. If you followed my point above, and maintained honesty in your application, then there should be no cause for concern.
Amid the unnecessary butterflies, I am looking forward to our home visit on Monday. It will serve as a great opportunity to get an outside perspective on how to make sure our home will provide the proper shelter for our special pup. There is a precious girl we have in mind, and I want things to be perfect for her. She hasn’t had the easiest life, and she really deserves to share the love that I believe our family can provide.
In yesterday’s post, I promised to include a new highlight on our blog! Until our own little foster baby arrives, we will share a daily update with you all that will feature some really special adoptable pit bulls. Introducing….
At a mere 14-weeks old, Lilo boasts a pretty impressive resume. His foster mama describes him as ‘calm, and totally sweet.’ He is a professional cuddler, and already successfully house-broken! By adopting Lilo, you get all of the puppy charm, with a head start on training and veterinary care, and little risk of stained carpets! Lilo is extra-special in that he is known as a blue-nosed pit bull. He loves his four-legged foster siblings, has been properly socialized, and gets along well with everyone. LCPO was able to pull Lilo and his siblings from a no-kill shelter when they were 10 weeks old, so information of his early life is limited, but his foster mama has been dedicated to making him a responsible member of the bully society ever since. She is doing a fabulous job of sharing his story, and he has had 146 views on his Petfinder profile this week alone! If Lilo sounds like the perfect addition to your family (of course he does!) then check him out here. If you love Lilo, but aren’t able to add a pup to your home at this time, we would greatly appreciate you sharing his page and this blog to help him find the forever home that he deserves. Thank you for looking!