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Should You Be a Foster Parent?

By: April Metroulas

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Fostering a dog can be a very gratifying experience for the right family. The feeling that you have helped a disadvantaged or needy animal is a wonderful sensation. Some families foster many dogs regularly, while others foster just once in a while, but when thinking about fostering a dog, you need to ask yourself several questions:

  • Do I have the time?
  • Do I have the room?
  • How will my pets and family react?
  • What type of dog do I want?
  • How long can I or should I keep my foster dog?

    Dogs need foster families for many reasons. Some programs need foster families with the purpose of finding permanent homes, while others need temporary housing for pets that belong to disabled people who may be in and out of the hospital. Other programs need families to foster abused or injured dogs.

    There are countless different types of foster programs for dogs in the United States. The majority of these programs focus on finding adoptable homes for strays. The stray programs are always in need of loving foster homes, as individuals with limited funding run many of these programs.

    Local shelters and humane organizations usually have foster programs available and always have more dogs on hand than foster families. Families are usually provided with veterinary care and food for the duration of the dog's stay. It is usually the responsibility of the foster family to provide transportation to and from the veterinarian and to and from adoption days at local shelters and pet stores.

    Foster families are also always in need of families for people who are ill. Many different programs in the United States assist people in the care of their animals when they are not well enough to do so. One such organization is PAWS/STL, which is an organization based in St. Louis, Missouri that assists people living with HIV and AIDS in keeping their pets with them as long as possible. These types of organizations exist in cities all across the nation. Families who foster dogs for organizations such as these are not only doing a wonderful service for the dog, but they are also helping a person in need.

    People are also needed to foster service dogs. Dogs who perform services such as guiding the seeing or hearing impaired are often in need of loving foster homes. Families who volunteer to foster service dogs often keep them for as long as two years. They are responsible for training the dogs in basic obedience, socialization and manners. They are also responsible for providing veterinary care.

    At some point, the dog is returned to the specific organization, where he is trained for a particular function. After testing and training, the dog is then placed in the home of a disabled person. It takes a very special foster family to take a service dog.

    If you are considering being a foster parent, it is important to do plenty of research. Make sure you select an organization that best fits your beliefs. Some organizations will euthanize animals that have not been adopted after a certain time. Other organizations do not. You should always consider that fostering a dog is temporary, and your family should be prepared for that as well.

    Serving as a foster family for a dog is a great service. Often, families fall in love with their foster dog. These families are usually the first considered when finding permanent placement for the dog. If you love dogs, have a little extra room and a little extra time, fostering a dog can be a gratifying experience that will last a lifetime.

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