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View Full Version : Animal Shelter - Volunteer or Foster Parent?



Geila
9-13-16, 11:56am
With the year winding down, my gardens are starting to need less time and attention, and I'm feeling like I can take on something new. We also recently lost one of our pets. I don't know if we'll adopt another pet, but fostering or volunteering feels doable.

Volunteering would be the least disruptive to our household (and only requires 3 hr/wk commitment) and dh would like that. But I feel our pets - especially our boxer - would benefit from fostering. She's very active and energetic and could use an extra playmate.

I haven't volunteered at a shelter before or fostered animals so would appreciate hearing from those of you who have and what you liked/disliked about each.

sweetana3
9-13-16, 12:21pm
I just turned over for adoption two of the three kittens I fostered. It was a blast watching them grow up and giving them a good start. I did not name them which helped.

Our kittens at this group come from the pound so often don't have a good start. But to get them going and gaining weight is a good thing. Really helps if you can medicate and are very observant. Also helps to have available vet in case of issues. Ask what the process is in case of emergency. I bought my own good quality food (although they would provide generic). I also had all the supplies I needed.

iris lilies
9-13-16, 12:45pm
We have fostered bulldogs and bull breeds off and on for 15 years. I'm on the board of local bulldog rescue. Hey, mY first foster dog for this organization was a boxer who was being transported through bulldog rescue. She stayed with us for two weeks and was a lovely dog.

It is hard to get good foster homes because so many placements turn into "foster failures," haha, meaning the dog is permenantly adopted by the foster family. But really, it is ok!

Our most urgent need in local bulldog rescue is foster families without children or other pets bcause we take in dogs that have "issues" with other dogs and cats. But that said, almost all of our regular foster families have at least one family pet.

it is good that your boxer girl likes other dogs. We would not be likely to place a female in your house, but a male would be good. So many of our female bulldogs are Alphas or Alpha wannabes.

Your responsibility as a foster family is to assess the dog as well as take care of it in your home. They all come with some kind of baggage, but honestly most of the foster dogs we have had are nice family dogs. They will need assessment as to bathroom habits, getting along with kids, getting along with other dogs, play and sleep patterns, health issues. Ideally, your rescue organization provides real value in assessing the dog and preparing him for a new family, that is the whole point of rescue that uses fostering systems. I don't know the average vet bill for our rescue group, but I do know that vet bills for the last three of our foster dogs were about $1200, $300, and $600.

Our rescue group will pay all vet bills. But I do pick up the tab for simple things like exams for itchy skin (most recent, a grass allergy) or heartworm and flea control meds.

We just recently got back into full fledged fostering after a few years of having a houseful of our own dogs. The last three females we fostered were all good with other dogs and with other females. That is pretty unusual for us. Our own family dog is male and while he can be dog reactive, he is used to females dogs in his house.

A good, reliable foster home provides such a great service for dog rescue, I cant emphasize enough how important that is. I dont know who you would be fostering for, but many dogs need to learn how to live with a family. We get puppy mill dogs and there are rescues who take in street dogs. These dogs do not know anything about living in a house. Sounds like the toilet flushing or the dishwasher is foreign and scary to them. Some of them are afraid of men. (One nice thing about mill dogs is that they have no ideas about jumping up on furniture. It doesnt occur to them that the sofa is somethng they can sit on!)

Here is our current foster dog ( see next post) She is a hoot! She came from a mill and she is supposed to be 2 years old, but given her bone development and inane actions, we think she is barely out of puppyhood. She was probably bred on her first heat cycle at 8 months, delivered of puppies and then sold when the pups were 4 days old. She has hanging mammary glands that make her look ancient, but they will dry up,

iris lily
9-13-16, 12:54pm
1631

This is Lily Bean, our foster dog.

JaneV2.0
9-13-16, 1:10pm
Lily Bean is perfect! You should have no trouble finding her a good home.

iris lilies
9-13-16, 1:16pm
Lily Bean is perfect! You should have no trouble finding her a good home.
Yes, except that Lily Bean comes with a medical condition that can cause her to die any moment. We dont know if she will live 8 days or 8 months or 8 years. so she has to go to a home where adults understand that.

It is too bad because she really needs a house full of children to keep her busy. She likes a lot of activity! But I would hate to have her go to a home with kids and then have her die on them soon after.

JaneV2.0
9-13-16, 1:18pm
Back to "When you buy a pet you buy a tragedy." One of the reasons I don't have one at the moment. :(

freshstart
9-13-16, 2:37pm
oh, poor Lily Bean!

I'd like to foster but I am a pretty lax owner, my dogs are on the furniture and on top of my bed. I wouldn't be good at training otherwise because a 3rd dog would see my 2 dogs getting away with everything. Maybe I could foster when I'm down to one dog.

What I really want to do is called Fospice, hospice for dogs. You take in dogs near the end and give them a comfortable home to die in. Our shelters don't do it. I met a physical therapist who does it for a rescue group. She had 12 dogs at once and had to pay all their vet bills! I would like to find a group that would cover the big bills. Has anyone done this?

iris lilies
9-13-16, 2:58pm
The woman who heads up our rescue is adament that foster dogs are NOT to be allowed on human furniture, at least within the first few weeks. They build dominance by doing that.

and thats one of the downsides to fostering, one has to asses temperament. While we do not accept dogs with known temperment problems into our rescue program, we do end up with biters. I have had to euthanize 3 rescue dogs due to temperment.

iris lilies
9-13-16, 3:04pm
Freshstart, providng hospice for dogs would be great! I'll bet ypu could find a rescue group who would agree to pay vet bills, especially since you understand that it would be comfort care only.

That is somethng my group would cnsider, for instance, if we knew you well. There has to be some kind of pre-approval for veterinary care in that situation.

Teacher Terry
9-13-16, 4:44pm
LilyBean is very cute:)) WE have taken in some old dogs on their last legs when their long time owners did not want them but don't do that anymore-too expensive and heartbreaking. We don't foster because my DH can't stand to give them up. We have also adopted mill dogs. It takes a long time to socialize them, etc but definitely worth it. Right now we have 4 old dogs so lots of meds and vet bills. It is also hard to find an RV park that will take 4 even though 3 of them only are 5lbs. WE got the RV thinking it would be easy to travel with them. Now that we are older as they go we will downsize to 1 or 2 but I would never, ever be without at least 1 dog.

freshstart
9-13-16, 5:03pm
I, too, will never, ever live without a dog. I don't know the details but NY passed a law that senior apts have to accept a resident's dog or cat up to a certain size. I think that's great.

Geila
9-13-16, 5:14pm
Thanks for the responses everyone - especially Iris Lilies with the detailed info.

I met with the coordinator this morning and just by walking around the shelter I wanted to bring several of the pets home. But I also realized that I was trying to distract myself from feeling the loss of our beloved cat. I need to wait a while for the loss to process and to give our family pets a chance to adjust to having lost a member of their pack. The cat was very attached to the dogs and his presence will be missed by all of us.

So I'm going to hold off on fostering for now. I don't know if I'm ready to volunteer either. It was hard to see so many wonderful pets there. So many beautiful and sad little faces staring out hoping for attention. Breaks my heart. But I might be ready next month for the volunteer orientation.

freshstart
9-13-16, 5:22pm
I think it's great that you recognize you need time to grieve

sweetana3
9-13-16, 6:42pm
Freshstart, it is a good idea but has to come with limits. My motherinlaw's building became a pet allowed building. Several dogs have already been evicted because the owners don't clean up after them, the dogs barked all day, the dogs went after other people in the building, the dogs damaged property, etc. Frustrating since it is the owner's problem and the dogs could be worked with to resolve most of the issues.

It is the few bad owners that make the issue such a problem.

Cypress
10-5-16, 4:48pm
I volunteered at a local shelter taking care of cats. Fostering older cats would be much preferred to housing in a shelter. Older cats understand they've lost their home and can go into a depressive state. If the owner died, and no relative can take them in, they feel it bad. I did not have a cat of my own at that time and it was hard to go. I got caught up in their struggle and always felt so bad for the older ones. If people can foster an older cat, that might help alot. Being in a home makes a big difference in their lives. A shelter is a small cage, well cared for but confined, noisy and without affection of a steady human connection.

iris lilies
10-5-16, 5:13pm
I volunteered at a local shelter taking care of cats. Fostering older cats would be much preferred to housing in a shelter. Older cats understand they've lost their home and can go into a depressive state. If the owner died, and no relative can take them in, they feel it bad. I did not have a cat of my own at that time and it was hard to go. I got caught up in their struggle and always felt so bad for the older ones. If people can foster an older cat, that might help alot. Being in a home makes a big difference in their lives. A shelter is a small cage, well cared for but confined, noisy and without affection of a steady human connection.
Ah, I feel so sorry for the older cats, too! While I want to be without cats for a while while we travel, if I DO get a cat after our two die off, I would want a guarantee that the cat is at least ten years old. Any kitten or young cat will quite possibly out live me, and
jane, that is a tragedy of a different kind, old pets with dead owners.

sweetana3
10-5-16, 6:59pm
Our wills have established a caretaker for our cats. At the present time it is the founder of the local feral cat group and she will get a big % of our estate. We also coordinated with a local small "house" shelter as a co-guardian in case of need. We trust them completely to do what is best for our cats.

It is the forgotten ones that have such problems. A cat adopted by one of mom's neighbors was taken in by the family as a house cat when she died. They even took one of the owner's blankets so he could have her smell. What a nice family.

JaneV2.0
10-5-16, 9:49pm
Ah, I feel so sorry for the older cats, too! While I want to be without cats for a while while we travel, if I DO get a cat after our two die off, I would want a guarantee that the cat is at least ten years old. Any kitten or young cat will quite possibly out live me, and
jane, that is a tragedy of a different kind, old pets with dead owners.

Yes, I've thought about that. Oregon Humane has a deal where you can sign up to have them care for your pet after you're gone, and they have a fabulous record of finding homes for even elderly cats, so that would give me some reassurance.