Frequently Asked Questions About Fostering
How long am I expected to foster?Open or Close
We prefer that you commit to fostering your animal until an adoptive home can be found. Unfortunately, we cannot predict how long this will take. It depends on the animal’s breed, age, temperament, and the time of year, as well as how proactive you are about marketing your foster animal and attending adoption events. If you can only foster for a specific period of time, please be certain to indicate this up front to the HT representative you are working with. Sometimes another foster home can’t be found, which means that your animal must go to a boarding facility. We prefer to avoid boarding animals because it’s both expensive for HT and stressful for the animal. Still, if you find you cannot continue fostering your animal, contact your HT representative immediately.
What if my foster pet has to go to the vet?Open or Close
As you signed in the Foster Agreement, vet care for foster animals must be provided by an approved HT vet. All vetting is paid for by Homeward Trails, but only if you take the animal to one of HT’s vet partners. (You will need to refer to your foster handbook for a list of approved vets or go to our HT rep.) If you take your foster animal to a vet other than an HT vet partner but have not received approval to do this, you will be responsible for paying the bill. With very limited funds, HT must utilize the partnerships we have whenever possible. This is very important, and non-negotiable.
The procedure: First, contact your HT representative to determine whether vetting is necessary. There are many ailments for which HT keeps treatment supplies on hand in our Med Shed (worms, kennel cough, coccidia, etc.). If a visit is deemed necessary, and it is a non-emergency issue, simply contact an HT vet partner to make an appointment. You are then responsible for taking the animal to the vet. If your schedule does not permit, you will need to find another HT volunteer to take the animal.
What if my foster pet has a vetting emergency?Open or Close
We always want to make sure all of our animals get the very best medical care – especially in the case of an emergency. If your animal has an obvious and clear emergency (hit by car, serious fight with an animal, ingestion of dangerous object) then contact your HT contact person and inform them that you will be taking the animal to your nearest emergency vet. HT does not usually receive discounts from emergency vets, so you will likely just go to your nearest emergency vet. Again, as much as possible, any emergency vet visit needs to be approved by your HT rep.
What if I don’t like a prospective adopter?Open or Close
Homeward Trails feels that Foster volunteers should, as much as possible, make the decision regarding the home in which their foster animal gets permanently placed. We recognize that you have probably developed a close bond with your foster animal and want to make sure he/she gets only the best home. You will need to work closely with your AC to determine if an adopter is suitable. Together, you will work as a team to determine adopter suitability for your foster animal.
What if my foster animal isn’t working out?Open or Close
HT will make every effort to ensure a good and safe foster match. However, there are times when this will fail. In this case, contact your HT representative as soon as possible. If the issues are minor, HT will work with you to address them. Many times, problems can be solved by trying a few new things and/or by giving the animal time to adjust to your home. For example, we can switch crates, switch foods, or offer simple behavioral solutions to try. We may also have a trainer work with you. Other times, an animal may simply not be a good fit for your home or lifestyle. HT will always take the foster animal back if an issue cannot be resolved. However, we ask that you give us at least 24 hours to make a plan. If that is not possible, we will make emergency arrangements. HT never wants to put the safety of the Foster person, their own animals, or the foster animal in jeopardy.
Can I adopt my foster animal?Open or Close
Yes, so long as we all feel it makes sense. But keep in mind that adopting your foster animal may mean that you can no longer foster. We’ll be sad to lose you! Think through the decision carefully so that you are not deciding to keep the animal solely because it is too difficult to let him/her go. The first few foster experiences can be difficult, as you’ll get attached and may have trouble letting go. But remember, your role as a Foster person is invaluable! As an adopter you may only be able to save one animal’s life, but as a foster parent you have the potential to help dozens of animals. You will need to work with your HT contact person to discuss whether your adoption is truly in the best interest of your foster animal.
What if I have to leave town?Open or Close
Please notify us ahead of time so that we can make arrangements for your foster animal to go elsewhere while you are gone. Some foster people (who have other pets) have dog sitters who will also watch their foster dog. Other Foster volunteers like to travel with their foster dog. Others may have a boarding facility they work with. We are open to ideas, but generally cannot afford to cover the costs of dog sitters or expensive boarding facilities. If you wish to pay for these options once they are approved by HT, that is great (and can be considered a donation)! If you cannot, HT will allow you to make arrangements either with one of our boarding partners or with another Foster volunteer. Be sure to give us enough warning so that we can help you make these arrangements. Keep in mind that holidays can be difficult to find space and are expensive. The more advance time we have, the better!
What if I have an emergency and have to leave town suddenly?Open or Close
Contact your HT representative right away. We will work with you to find a suitable option or have you bring the animal to one of our boarding partners.
Can I take my dog to the dog park or hiking?Open or Close
Absolutely, but only after you get to know the dog and know that he/she will do well in that environment. Going to the dog park prematurely may result in a fight, and we cannot afford expensive vet bills. And of course, we don’t want your foster dog or any other dog harmed. And NEVER take your dog off-leash unless you are in a fully fenced, secure area. Be aware, too, that some dogs like to climb or jump fences, so be sure to pay close attention the first time you take your foster dog off-leash. You will be surprised at which dogs like to and can jump fences! Your foster dog should always have an ID tag with your contact information on it. This is vital. Putting your foster dog in a situation that could bring danger to him or others is something every foster needs to think carefully about.
Do I have to use the crate for my foster dog?Open or Close
We highly recommend it! We cannot guarantee that a dog is housebroken, won’t chew your items, and won’t hurt him/herself when unattended. The safest way to protect your home and the dog is to use the crate. HT cannot be responsible for damage done by a dog left unattended and uncrated. We also cannot guarantee that we will pay the vet bill if you choose to leave the dog uncrated and the dog or your own pet is injured. We have lots of experience in this area! In time, you may find your foster dog doesn’t need the crate. But make that decision only after you “test run” the dog a few times and really get to know the dog and his/her behavior.
What if my pet gets sick from my foster pet?Open or Close
To prevent this, we strongly suggest that all your pets be current on their vaccinations, use flea/tick prevention, and have the bordatella vaccine (for kennel cough). In order to prevent your pet from getting intestinal worms (which are passed through the animal’s stool) you should pick up each dog’s stool immediately or have your foster cat utilize a separate litter box until we are sure that any/all worms have been rid of. Pets that are current on their vaccines usually will have no problems with foster pets, or the problems that do arise are small and very easily addressed. If your animal is fully vaccinated and you follow the above protocol, but your own pet still contracts an ailment from your foster, contact your HT representative and we will determine whether or not we can pay for treatment. Do not go to your vet expecting reimbursement. Check with your HT rep to see if we have meds in the Med Shed that we can provide you free or at cost. We will evaluate each case individually.
Can I rename my foster animal?Open or Close
In most cases, yes! Animals that were turned into a shelter, however, may have had their names for years. In that case, we recommend against giving them a new name or suggest you find a name similar to their existing one. If you have any question about this, contact your primary HT representative.
Am I expected to buy supplies for my foster?Open or Close
Purchases made for foster care are considered donations to Homeward Trails Animal Rescue and are tax-deductible. Keep your receipts. We will be happy to issue you a tax donation letter. If you want to be reimbursed for a purchase, you must get prior approval from your HT rep. Again, you must get approval from your HT rep if you want reimbursement.