Foster Carers for pets are normal people like you, people who are willing to help local cat rescue and dog rescue organisations by providing temporary accommodation to a homeless pet in their home. The main purpose of foster care is to provide a temporary home to cats or dogs who are not well-suited to typical shelter environments. This may be because they are kittens or puppies too young or small to be eligible for adoption. Similarly, foster care is also sought for cats and dogs which are recovering from illness or surgery and require rehabilitation, and for those who are timid and find a shelter environment stressful. Of course, in some cases it can also be because the rescue centre has simply run out of space! Foster carers enable these pets to stay in a safe and caring environment while the rescue organisation tries to find them permanent homes.
What qualities do Foster Carers need?
Foster carers are normal people, but there are few qualities which are essential. Quite obviously you need to be a genuine animal lover, ideally with experience of owning pets. You may even already have pets of your own. You’ll need to be patient, because pets placed with you may be frightened or anxious in their new surroundings, and need a little time to settle and adjust. You’ll need to be understanding and be able to understand what the animals have been through, whether they have been abandoned, mistreated or just got lost. You’ll also need to be able to say goodbye to the pets placed with you, because over the few months that your guest will live with you, you’ll inevitably develop bonds with him or her.
Can I choose what sort of animals I look after?
Of course. Ultimately, you are a volunteer and while rescue organisations will only ever ask you to look after pets they consider you to be suitable for, you can always decline a request. If you only want to look after cats, or dogs, there are plenty of dedicated cat or dog rescue centres, so volunteering to help one of them would probably make sense in the first place. Some people prefer to look after kittens and puppies, while others prefer adult dogs. As long as the rescue centre understands your preferences they will invariably try to pair you with the right pet(s).
What do Foster Carers need to provide?
Above all, a safe and secure environment for the pets they care for, a willingness to exercise dogs, stimulate and generally love their guests. It helps massively if you have reliable transport to fetch and deliver pets, but you don’t need qualifications, formal training or experience. If you’re inexperienced, rescue centres can be counted on to give you as much help as you need, to help you prepare for your temporary guests.
Obviously it’s worth checking with the rescue organisation in advance, but we’ve never heard of a Foster Carer being asked to pay the vets bills for pets in their care. In most cases, the resuce organisation will also provide you with things like cat litter, bedding and toys for pets in your care.
Can I still foster if I work full time?
Again, rescue organisations will only place a pet with you for foster care if you are a suitable carer. Your working obligations will of course play a part in that decision. Most foster animals can be left alone in a secure place at home while you’re away at work, and high-care animals will usually be sent to experienced foster carers who perhaps have more free time and are able to give them extra attention.
How does all this benefit the pets?
Fostering benefits the cats and dogs in your care in many ways. Apart from keeping them in a secure environment, it allows them to socialise and allows those who have been abandoned on the streets to get accustomed to living a domestic setting again. It also allows animal lovers to do something more concrete than just give money, sharing their homes with pets in need of care and attention.
It also benefits you! Owning a dog or cat is a long-term commitment and if your lifestyle means it would be impractical for you to have a dog of your own because of uncertainties in your own life, such as career or even country moves, being a Foster Carer is temporary by definition and allows you to share a part of your life with a pet without worrying ‘what happens if I need to move…’ and so on.
Become a Pet Foster Carer
Become a Foster Carer for pets
Every pet rescue centre ‘home vets’ potential carers, which means that they generally only accept foster carers who live in their approximate geographical location. In general, that means within a 30-45 minute driving range. If you are interested in becoming a foster carer we strongly urge you to take the first step, which would be to get in touch with local pet rescues and discuss it with them in person.
Many animal welfare groups have pages explaining their foster carer requirements on their website, so if you are in any doubt, we would suggest browsing their website first, to see if they are likely to have the sort of animal you would like to foster, and what their terms and procedures are.
To browse animal rescue centres and rehoming centres in your area, click the button below.