If you’ve come here, you’re naturally wondering what’s involved when fostering with us. We are delighted you’re here! Some people choose to foster just cat’s or dog’s and some people choose to foster both. Whichever you pick, please have a read through the Q and A section below and get an idea of what it’s all about. Fostering is the backbone of our rescue and we could not run this charity without our dedicated foster families. As you might have guessed, animals come in all shapes and sizes and we work with our foster families to ensure the foster home can readily meet the needs of the animal. This ensures it is a pleasant and rewarding experience for everyone involved especially our rescue animal.
We provide everything from bedding which can include crates, towels, and blankets to medical expenses and food. So, by fostering with us, you are going to change an unwanted dog, puppy, kitten or cat’s world and give them a happy and safe life that they deserve while also becoming an invaluable member of our society.
If you are interested in fostering a dog/puppy, please call our Dog Coordinator on 086-416-9559
If you are interested in fostering a cat/kitten, please call our Cat Coordinator on 085-239-7059
These are the many lives that were saved because of our foster families!
Questions and Answers
Q: What are the basic responsibilities of a foster home?
A: A foster parent/family will care for the dog or cat as they would their own pet, providing a safe secure stable environment, food, companionship, basic training, exercise, and lots patience and love. Some dogs require special care, such as post medical attention, increasing weight or strength, socializing, building confidence, weight loss, or exercise. Others may need help with reinforcing manners, working on development areas like: Lead manners, housetraining, barking, etc., or learning basic obedience behaviors: Sit, down, off, etc.
Most of our rescue dogs stay indoors at night and we would insist on this unless it was a a dog who prefers to be outdoors. In this case the dog must have a warm, comfortable shelter.
Q: How long will the animal be with me?
A: The fostering period can last anywhere from a few days to several months. There are many variables to the adoptability of an animal including the breed, gender, age, and health of the animal, as well as the time of year. Younger or small breed animals tend to be adopted more quickly. The more “work” a foster home puts into the animal, the quicker the dogs get adopted because they are easier to place when they’ve been taught good manners. Foster homes that let their foster animal get away with undesirable behavior (jumping up on people, counters, etc.) tend to have the animals for a longer time.
If at any time you feel you can no longer foster an animal, we always take them back into our care. However, we do require a commitment to foster the animal for a minimum of one week. When you decide to foster, we want you to make the commitment wholeheartedly and with no foreseeable interruptions until the animal finds its forever home. If there is an emergency we of course would find a new foster home but please understand that moving an animal from home to home is traumatizing, scary, and confusing ordeal for him/her. What these animals need is stability. Know in advance that when you bring a foster animal home, your lifestyle and daily routine will change – sometimes dramatically or sometimes only a little bit. If you have other pets, expect some conflict at first because they need to establish their order in the pack (especially for dogs).
What we need from a foster family is the willingness and ability to take care of the animal until s/he finds a home, no matter how long it takes. As a foster, once you take an animal into your home we expect that you will work through any problems that arise unless they are severe. Should such a situation arise, you must immediately contact the Foster Coordinator and try to give 48 hours to find new foster home for the animal. Remember, since we do not have kennels it can be difficult for us to remove an animal from your home immediately. If you have a set time period that you can foster, please let us know in advance so we can arrange for another foster home if the animal has not been adopted. By signing our foster contract, you agree not to independently sell, trade, or dispose of the animal in any way including bringing him/her to another rescue, shelter, or pound.
Q: What if I want to go on holidays while I am fostering?
A: If you know you’ll be going on a holiday in the near future, it would be best to wait to foster until you return. It is hard on the dogs to get bounced around from foster to foster. Many dogs have a really hard time and get depressed if they get moved around a lot. In their eyes, it must seem like they are getting abandoned time and time again. If you have a friend or family member who would be willing to care for your foster animal while you are on holidays that is fine too, as long as s/he completes a foster application and release of liability. If you do not have such a person please give us reasonable notice. Our available foster spaces change on a daily basis and as such could not guarantee availablitly for the dates you are away.
Q: I am interested in fostering but I have to work during the week. Is that OK if the dog is alone?
A: Yes. Some of our foster parents have full-time jobs or aren’t home for several hours a day. As long as the animal is kept safely indoors and someone is around to check on them and walk a dog, we have no issue with that.
Q: Do I have to crate the animal when I’m not at home?
A: No; however, we strongly recommend that you do crate the animal to prevent house soiling accidents and chewing. Once the animal has been in your care for a while, you may find that s/he is just fine given free run and it is up to you whether to continue to crate the dog when there is no supervision.
Q: May I foster if I have other pets?
A: Yes. Your resident pet(s) must be current on their vaccinations, neutered/spayed, and get along with other animals. Please note that while we strive to send healthy animals to foster families, we cannot guarantee health or temperament and there is always a possibility that resident pets could contract ailments. Kennel cough (upper respiratory infection) and internal parasites are two of the most common contagious conditions.
Know that there may be conflict at first between the animals. Resident pets may be jealous for a while. Dogs may have a squabble and the cats commonly hide and hiss for a time – this is common. After this initial transition period, your other pets will likely be happy to have a new buddy. Dogs that normally get along with other pets will often try to test boundaries. It is up to you to provide consistent, firm boundaries. As the foster dog begins to feel more confident in your home, s/he may change his/her behavior towards resident pets. Crating the foster dog is highly recommended when you are not home as it is never wise to leave new dogs alone together without supervision. We recommend that you feed the dogs separately (in different rooms or crates), even if they get along very well, because food is one of the most common things dogs fight about. Watch for signs of jealousy over other high-value items like treats, toys, rawhides, or bones as well. Chances are very good that there won’t be any problems between the dogs but it is better to be safe than sorry!
Q: May I foster if I have children?
A: Absolutely. It is vital that your children know the “do’s and don’ts” around dogs. We do not always know the temperament of the animal we take in. We usually can determine which animals will be good with kids and which ones will not be. However, we cannot and do not guarantee anything. Please understand that if your child hurts or scares the dog, it may bite.
Q: I’m afraid that if I foster an animal, I’ll fall in love with it and it will be too painful to give it up. What do foster families’ do when this happens?
A: It can be tough when your foster finds a permanent home and you’ve fallen in love with him/her; especially the first time. However, you’ll feel great joy and happiness when that wonderful family adopts your foster and they finally go “home” and you have a space ready to save another life.
Q: What if I decide that I want to adopt my foster animal – may I adopt him/her?
A: Yes, if your home is the best home for the dog and the board approves the adoption. You will need to fill out and sign an adoption contract and pay the adoption fee. Please let us know as early as possible if you are planning on adopting the animal so that we can remove him/her from the site and notify other prospective adopters. We hope that even with adopting you will continue to foster but understand that might not happen. We’ll be sad to lose a foster home but be happy for the animal.
Q: Do I get to choose which animal I foster?
A: Yes in most cases. However, if we have to move an animal that is currently in our care we look to getting him/her fostered first before we take on another animal, for example, taking a dog out of the pound. We will try to match the foster animal to the home it will be going to. If you require a particular size, energy level, or if you need an animal that is good with children or other pets, we do our best to meet your criteria. If you have a particular skill or strength we will try to find an animal that compliments that area. For instance, some folks enjoy teaching obedience and they choose to foster the animals that have had no training. Others have a wonderful ability to nurture shy or sad dogs and help build confidence.
Q: Will I have to pay for veterinary bills for my foster animal?
A: No – Laois SPCA will pay the medical bills for the foster dog/cat when s/he is brought to our approved vet: Vetcare, Well Road, Portlaoise – however, you MUST get prior approval from the Foster Coordinator first. If approval is not obtained or the animal is brought to an unapproved vet, you are responsible for all costs associated with treatment.
Q: Will I have to pay for food/supplies for my foster animal?
A: Laois SPCA provides food for all of our foster animals. We can also supply with bones, toys (if we have any at the time), a crate, bowls, jackets, a lead, and collar. Other than food and a crate provisions depend on what we have received in donations.
Q: Can I foster if I am younger than 18 years of age?
A: Not directly. If you are under 18 years of age, you must have a parent or legal guardian complete the foster application. Your parent(s) or guardian must speak to the Foster Coordinator in advance and must be agreeable to serving as a foster family.
Q: Are all of the animals house-trained?
A: No. However, we have found the easiest and most effective way to housetrain a dog or puppy is through use of a
consistent schedule. Many dogs will not “tell” you that they have to go out so by using a regular schedule for elimination, keeping the animal supervised, and crating them when you are not home you will drastically reduce the number of accidents. Another consideration is that some dogs won’t eliminate outside if you are watching them or if they are on a lead. Don’t forget to praise the pooch every time s/he “goes” outside! Cat’s are very good at naturally using the kitty litter however this cannot be gauranteed and our cat coordinator willl give you tips on toilet training if this happens.
Q: OK, I’ve read through all of the foster information above, is there anything else I need to know?
A: Thank you for wanting to open your home up to fostering. The fact that you’ve read this far means that you are a true animal lover who wants to make a difference in this world. The first step is to complete a Foster Application. You can download one from our ‘Forms’ section at the bottom of the page and either drop it into Vetcare or our shop at Unit 2, Hynd’s Sq., Portlaoise or you can email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We do require a home-check to ensure it is suitable for fostering.
What should I expect when fostering?
Expect the first day/night to be stressful for the dog. Taking the dog for on-lead walks is helpful to wear out some nervous energy and calm them down with an enjoyable activity. Extra energy, chewing, and potty accidents are common reactions to being nervous. Tiring your dog out will cut down on this which will make it easier on both you and the dog!
If you are introducing your foster to another dog, we suggest taking them for a walk gradually bringing them side by side before going into the house. They can adjust to one another on neutral territory and are given the opportunity to burn off some energy before meeting face to face. Frequently dogs have no problems together but even the friendliest of dogs can feel a little jealous when a new dog is on his/her “turf”.
It is not uncommon for a new foster to initially refuse food, treats, and/or water. Not eating is a dog’s way of reacting to stress. Within a day or so water consumption should normalize and within a couple days most dogs begin eating normally.
Dogs love routine. The more you can keep the same schedule and the dog knows what is expected, the quicker they tend to adjust (especially in cases with shyer dogs).
Kennel cough, intestinal parasites, and diarrhea are all common in rescue. We will give you tips on how to deal with each if you encounter them.
It is imperative that you keep your foster on lead or in a fenced area.
Dogs sent out to foster homes have generally been vetted. If not, we will normally tell you that and make arrangements with you to get the dog to our vet for any necessary exam and/or treatments. If you feel that your foster dog needs to be seen by a vet for some reason during the week you may contact us and we will determine whether vetting is needed immediately or can wait. Vet work MUST be authorized by Laois SPCA. If it is not, then the foster parent will be responsible for any costs associated with treating the animal.
IN THE EVENT OF A MEDICAL EMERGENCY with a foster dog, foster parents must contact Laois SPCA for direction on how to proceed and where to bring the animal. Detailed contact information is provided to new fosters when they start.