Becoming a Foster Parent: Are You Ready?
Written for volunteers and potential volunteers, this article can be printed and distributed to community members interested in helping their local shelters or rescue groups. The author, Melissa Bahleda, is a certified canine trainer and behavior counselor who specializes in rescuing and rehabilitating homeless dogs. The owner and operator of PARTNERS! Canine Training, Behavior Counseling, and Shelter Services, Bahleda lives in Shenandoah, Virginia, with her husband, Tom; her horse, Tanka; four goats, two cats, one bird, rescued “canine partners” Madison, LuLu, and Mona; and an assortment of foster dogs.
Because I have been fostering shelter dogs for more than 20 years, I am often asked the same questions: “Why do you foster?” “How do you find the time?” “How do you choose the right animal?” “How do you know if they’ll get along with your pets?” “How do you keep from getting attached?”
Fostering a dog, cat, rabbit, horse, or any other animal in need of shelter, love, and guidance is a time-consuming effort, but it’s also one of the most rewarding ways to help homeless pets. Providing a “stepping stone” for animals in search of permanent homes saves lives, alleviates the strain on animal shelters, helps set the stage for successful adoptions, and teaches you the skills that will enable you to help other animals in need.
I have found that dogs and cats who are fostered in positive, nurturing environments by people with basic training and behavior knowledge are more likely to be adopted; less likely to be returned to the shelter; less likely to suffer from behavior and training problems; and less stressed and more able to adapt to life in their new homes.