Fostering @ Good Sam

One of the objectives of Good Sam is to help find homes for displaced animals. Caring individuals are desperately needed to offer dogs and cats temporary shelter and care until permanent homes can be found! If you can spare a little extra time, some love, and have some extra room in the house, you can help a homeless cat, kitten, or dog transition from a hopeless situation, into one that is stable and nourishing.

Below is a list of frequently asked questions to help you determine if fostering is right for you.

Adapted from Best Friends Animal Society

By being a pet foster parent, you provide a temporary home for an animal prior to adoption. Fostering animals is a wonderful and personal way to contribute to saving homeless pets. Dogs and cats are the most common pets needing foster homes, but some organizations may also need help with rabbits, birds, or even farm animals.

There are several possible reasons:

  • Foster care can help save an animal’s life when a shelter is full.
  • Some animals don’t do well in a shelter environment because they are frightened or need a little extra care.
  • Newborn animals that need to be nursed or bottle-fed usually need foster care.
  • Some animals need time to recover from an illness or injury before adoption.

Whatever the reason, these animals need some extra love and care before they can be adopted. Providing foster care for a few days, weeks, or months can be a lifesaving gift for an animal.

If you want to do something to help the animals, fostering can be a flexible, fun and rewarding volunteer job. Here’s why:

  • It’s more flexible than volunteer jobs that require you to show up at a specific time for a certain number of hours.
  • It’s a great way to enjoy a pet if you are not in a position to make that lifetime commitment right now. Fostering can be an excellent option for college students or military families.
  • Would you like to add a dog or cat to your household, but you’re not sure? Fostering can be a great way to find out.

Taking animals into your home, loving them, and then letting them go requires a special kind of person. Your role as a foster parent is to prepare the animal for adoption into a loving home.

The specific needs of the animal will determine how much time is involved. Newborn orphaned puppies and kittens, for instance, must be fed every few hours. A frightened animal who needs socialization or training will also require some extra time. You can discuss your availability with a Good Sam Foster Coordinator to determine what kinds of animals you’ll be best suited to foster.

It’s best to have some knowledge about companion animal behavior and health. If you are interested we can provide training for you.

Some of the animals most in need of foster care are those that require a little extra help or some training. Shy cats often need time to learn to trust and the quiet of a home environment. Dogs often benefit from a little obedience training, so if you familiarize yourself with some basic training techniques, you can be a big help in preparing your foster dog for a new home.

Just by getting to know the animal, you’ll help Good Sam Animal Rescue learn more about her personality prior to adoption.

Specific requirements will vary depending upon the animal you are fostering. For example, some animals will need fenced yards, medications, or isolation from your personal pets.

Good Sam will pay for the animal’s veterinary care and medications. We can also provide food, litter, and loan food/water bowls, litter box, and carrier if needed. Alternatively, the foster parent may purchase food and supplies for the foster pet as a donation, provide receipts, and receive an acknowledgement for tax deduction purposes.

You’ll want to consider how the animals in your household will adjust to having a foster pet. Some animals do very well with a temporary friend and can help socialize the foster animal. Other pets have a harder time with new animals being added to or leaving the family. You’re the best judge of your pet’s personality.

For the safety of your pets and the foster animal, it’s important to keep your pets up-to-date on vaccinations. In many cases, the foster pet will need to be isolated from your own pets, either temporarily or throughout the foster period. A Good Sam Foster Coordinator will help you to determine what’s best in each situation.

No. Good Sam Animal Rescue does the work of finding each animal its forever home. You may be asked to speak with potential adopters about your foster animal. You and your foster animal may also need to meet with potential adopters either at adoption events, or at convenient Meet And Greet locations.

Giving up an animal you’ve fostered, even to a wonderful new home, can be difficult emotionally. Some people like to be there when the pet goes home with the new family. Seeing your foster animal ride off into the sunset will help you remember that he has found a lovely new home.

A lot of foster families get photos and updates of their old charges enjoying their new homes. Knowing you were part of saving a life and helping the animal find a loving home is tremendously rewarding.

Sometimes a foster home turns into a permanent home. That’s why Good Sam Animal Rescue is always on the lookout for new foster homes!

Some people are reluctant to foster animals because they are concerned that it is unfair to take in a dog or cat, establish a bond, and then allow the animal to be adopted out into another home. Isn’t that a second abandonment?

Not at all! Being in a foster home can be a lifesaving bridge for a stray or frightened pet. It gives the animal a chance to get used to life in a house, and an opportunity to learn that people can be kind, food is available, and there is a warm, secure place to sleep.

Foster care can help prepare a dog or cat for a new life in a permanent home. There’s no shortage of animals who need this preparation time before finding their own people.

When you are ready, contact us and let’s talk about it. There may be some training involved and some papers to sign, but you should be able to go home soon with a new foster animal.

Foster parents make an enormous difference in the number of animals euthanized each year because shelters don’t have space for them. It is important, valuable work and, best of all, it saves lives.

We can always use volunteer help at adoption events, transporting animals to and from the vet, returning phone calls, or doing office work. We might need someone to photograph pets and promote them online and through the local media. You could support our foster care program by raising funds for medical care, food and supplies.

Please feel free to contact us and let us know how you’d like to help this great cause!

Getting Started

  • Understand your role as a foster parent

  • Complete the Foster Form

Want to be the best dog foster parent you can be?

Here are 6 things every foster can do to improve placement from Namastay Training!

Look at the dog that is standing right there. Don’t focus on their background. SEE the dog in front of you. That doesn’t mean you aren’t sympathetic to their history but you don’t continue to define the dog by their history. You don’t allow their history to give them a “get out of jail free” card and excuse behaviors because they came from a bad situation. Don’t look backwards-look forward. Looking forward means giving them the skills they need to be successful in their new homes.

Give them a cozy place to rest away for the first week. While this seems like isolation it serves the purpose of allowing the dog’s body to process the chemicals that are coursing through their body from relinquishment and transport. Don’t take them out in public for walks or to meet people for a week. Chronic stress is common in many dogs and affects behavior. If you want the dog to put their best paw forward when meeting potential adopters they shouldn’t be under the effects of chronic stress. It takes a week for the chemicals resulting from stress that are dumped into the dog’s body to disperse. Read more about canine stress in this great article from The Whole Dog Journal. The first week they should be relaxing at home with stuffed Kongs for every meal. Licking is a self-soothing behavior and will help them relax.

Your love of dogs is what brought you into fostering dogs but that same love can handicap the dogs that come through your homes. Quite often fosters allow new dogs more freedom than they should. They give them open access to their home, their yard and their family dogs. Why remain detached? To prevent the dog from becoming overly attached to a lifestyle or a group of dogs. Your home is a way station on their way to their forever home; it should be pleasant for them but not out of this world fun. You want their forever home to be out of the world fun. You might have a big yard that is fun to romp and play but the forever family lives in an apartment and will rely on leash walks for exercise. They may be an only dog, their new adopters might work 8 hours a day. You need to prepare them for any lifestyle they may get in their new homes. This means they have a separate sleeping area, they eat their meals separately, and they play or train with you alone. This doesn’t mean that they are never allowed access to these areas only that they have access when supervised and monitored. They play with your dogs for short periods-not all day-like a play date not doggie daycare. They are free to roam in the house for short periods to experience a new family-but not all day. Keep in mind that new dogs and learning new rules are stressful and your goal is to reduce stress.

If they learn how to “play” for their food in your home it will be easy for new adopters to continue the practice. Why feed a dog from a food toy? There are many benefits for all dogs but the primary one for foster dogs is that it provides stimulation while they are alone in their confinement area. In addition food toys build confidence and teach them to be self-sufficient, both items that will serve them well in their new homes. Here is a video that shows you more. You are also instilling a strong chew toy habit and reducing destructive chewing. If a foster dog gets placed in a home and chews up shoes and other property they run a high risk of being returned.

So many people, feeling badly about the dog’s past, refuse to crate their new foster dog. They believe the crate to be an awful tool. It’s not; it’s a safety measure as well as a training tool. If you tell a potential adopter that this dog is “confinement trained” that is one more thing that sets them apart from the rest. Having a dog that willingly and happily accepts confinement gives the new adopter another useful tool to use in acclimating their new dog to their life successfully. Confinement training can be a crate or a room with a dog gate up. Someplace in the house where their movement is restricted-even when you are home-not just when you go to work or to bed. They should be used to being confined and still hearing activity in the house.

It’s not your job to train every dog that comes through your dog. You don’t have the time. But, if you can make the time to teach them just one thing they can take with them to their new home it should be impulse control/self-control. This is what is lacking in most dogs when they come to me for training and it’s the first place I start with all dogs. So, if you give them this skill you will make your adoptable dog stand out from the rest and increases their chance of finding a forever home. I don’t recommend teaching this as a “leave it” cue but rather as a “take it” cue, meaning they automatically leave it alone unless you tell them otherwise. Not sure what I mean? Watch this video to see how to teach this. This can be done in just 5 minutes a day.

If you have extra time and do want to teach your foster dog some essential life skills the first place to start is with polite leash walking. Here is a video that shows you how to do this. Everyone wants a dog that is easy to walk on leash and this too will become an extra selling point!