Foster caring is becoming a popular way for people to help an animal in a time of need. People from all walks of life, and for many different reasons, can decide to help an animal by temporarily caring for them in their home while they try to find their new home.
While it can be hard work, it’s also a very rewarding experience.
Many animal rescue organisations – including the RSPCA - rely heavily on foster carers to temporarily care for animals that need special attention or that have simply run out of time at the pound and need a little longer to find their forever home.
Animal rescue groups work all over Australia, and some mostly rescue animals from the pound, but many also work with people in the community who are trying to find new homes for their animals.
The RSPCA also needs foster carers to help look after puppies and kittens that are too young to be in the shelter, or for adult dogs and cats that need a break away from the shelter environment.
Angelika, who has fostered several dogs, says her family decided to become foster carers for a number of reasons. “I was taken aback by how many dogs there are out there in need,” she says “But I knew I had the capacity to make a difference, so I decided to help, one dog at a time”.
For Angelika, it wasn’t just a case of need, but also of want. “We already have a little dog, but I desperately missed my big old dog, Oskar. I‘ve always loved big dogs but we weren’t ready to adopt another dog just yet. There was no shortage of big dogs that needed foster care, so my husband and I discussed fostering and decided it was a good idea for us,” she says.
Other things to consider are the dynamics between your family and the animal you are caring for. “We have two small children, so it’s very important that our foster dogs get on well with kids. I made sure the kids and our pet met any dog I was thinking of fostering before I made a decision,” said Angelika.
“I had to be vigilant, and fortunately, they have all worked out well. I have photos of my kids giving belly rubs to a big brindle dog we called Hank, who absolutely adored the kids!,”
The first step to becoming a foster carer to is reach out a rescue organisation in your local area – a quick online search should bring up a few. Once you’re comfortable with how they operate, they’ll ask about your lifestyle and experience with animals, and will probably do a property check as well.
It’s important to remember that while an animal is in your care, it’s your responsibility, so it’s essential to ensure that you have the time and energy to put into caring for it well.
Responsibilities include feeding and training them and taking them to vet appointments, which are usually paid for by the rescue organisation. Then begins the search for the animal’s forever home, and rescue organisations will have different ways of going about doing this.
There is no denying that it can be hard to let go of a foster animal once they’ve been adopted, but this is part and parcel of the role of foster carers. The best feeling is knowing you helped find a new loving home for your foster pet.
Foster caring can be tough at times, but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences and a very important role for animals in need.
- The RSPCA relies on donations from the public to protect and care for animals.