After I blogged about Little Black last week, I received so many comments regarding fostering.  In response to that, I thought I’d blog about my experiences + thoughts on fostering, in hopes that maybe someone will read it and decide to try it for themselves!

I do a lot of volunteer work with local shelters and so my feelings on fostering have changed since the first time we fostered in 2008.  Back then, we were looking to adopt a second dog and we decided to adopt through GoldHeart Golden Retriever Rescue.  We signed up as a foster home, knowing that we were eventually going to keep the foster dog who fit our lifestyle.  Our first foster dog was Barley and letting him go was very hard.  Luckily, the family who adopted him only lived about 20 minutes away from us and they kept in touch throughout the years.  That’s probably the best part about fostering… the updates!

Eventually Brady came into our life and he was the one who ended up staying.  After we adopted him, we took a break from fostering to give both Brady + Camden a chance to adapt to this new arrangement, but we always knew we’d foster again.  In the years that followed, we played the role of both temporary + long-term foster home to some really great dogs in the rescue.  It was only when I started volunteering at BARCS last year that I truly saw how important fostering can be.

Fostering saves lives.  Period.  When you open your home to a kitten, cat, puppy, or dog – especially for a high-kill shelter – you are opening a cage or kennel that otherwise would be filled.  That means not only have you saved the animal you are fostering, but you’ve also saved another animal who can now take their space at the shelter.  Foster homes play such an important role for shelters and rescues all over the country and to be quite honest, it’s really easy… and fun!

Most shelters and rescues will provide you with anything you need in order to foster, whether it’s a crate, food, toys, vet care, etc.  They provide a lot of support through a buddy system or dedicated staff resource that is willing to answer any question you might have along the way.  Any expense from fostering is tax deductible, although most shelters and rescues provide financial support.  That’s right!  Save your receipts and you can write it off.  When I foster, I usually will pay for treats or food, if needed beyond the starter bag from the shelter.  To be honest, I can’t think of many reasons not to foster.

The most common excuse I hear from people is that they don’t feel like they have the time to devote to fostering.  Here’s my opinion on that.  A dog or cat is much better off in a structured home environment than in the shelter.  Always.  If that means you have to crate the dog or cat while you’re at work, that’s totally fine.  We do it!  With proper mid-day breaks (I run home during my lunch break), these animals are in a much better situation spending 9 hours in the crate at my home than they would be spending 24 hours a day in their kennel at the shelter.  At least after you get home from work, you can take them for a long walk (or run), spend time socializing them, take them out in public and try to get them adopted… there are just so many positives that enhance the animals’ life that far outweigh the time spent in a crate while you’re at work.  That’s just my opinion on the matter, though, and some people disagree.  But I bet if you asked the animal, I’m sure they’d tell you that they’d much prefer spending time at your house than at the shelter :)

So if you have been thinking about fostering – or even if it has never even crossed your mind – really consider what it means to the animals.  Fostering saves lives and gives more animals a chance at making it out and getting adopted.  Whether it’s for a shelter or rescue, the outcome is the same.  More animals can be saved when there are more people willing to help out.  I highly recommend fostering if you have the ability to do it.  It’s so rewarding to know you’re helping save lives and even though giving them up can be really hard (I’ve cried almost every single time a foster has been adopted), the benefits far outweigh the sadness because in the end, I know the dog went to a wonderful home.  And the adopters almost always send me updates, which is really awesome.  It’s great to see your foster dog adjust and grow with their new family.

If you’re interested in fostering, please contact your local shelter or a local rescue group.  They are always so grateful for foster homes and they will work with you to find an animal that will work well with your lifestyle.  Not sure you have the time to commit to a puppy?  That’s actually good, since adult and senior animals could benefit the most from a foster home.  Most times, puppies + kittens have a better shot than adult and senior pets since they are young + cute and are easily and quickly adopted in most cases.  It always breaks my heart to see a senior dog at the shelter, so confused + scared.  For the most part, fostering a senior animal is super easy since they likely came from a home environment and are already potty-trained and well-mannered.  Don’t overlook the seniors – they are great to foster.  Addie was a senior Golden that we fostered for GoldHeart and she was one of my most favorite and easy foster dogs ever!

Thanks for reading this and for considering the option of fostering.  Feel free to share this blog post and if there are any questions, feel free to post them below and I’ll try my best to answer them as quickly as possible.  This is something I am very passionate about because we can make a difference in the lives of animals by simply opening out hearts + homes to them until they find their forever home.

And because I couldn’t help myself, I posted a ton of images of our latest foster pup, Little Black.  I mean, seriously, how could you resist saving a life like his??