Northeast Animal Shelter is desperately seeking qualified foster homes!

101_3906Thank you for thinking about sharing your home with a foster pet. Northeast Animal Shelter is always in need of foster homes. The more foster homes we have, the more lives we can save. Without the help of foster caregivers, we would be forced to turn away many pets that need special care or attention.

As a foster caregiver, not only will you be providing a pet with the 1-on-1 attention it so desperately needs, you will be giving yourself a chance to see what it would be like to have a pet companion without the permanent commitment.

The answers to the following frequently asked questions will help you understand what is expected of foster caregivers. If you are interested in becoming a foster caregiver, please complete our online Foster Care Application.

What is a foster home?

A foster parent provides a temporary home for pets that need a little "extra care" before going to their new home. Sometimes the foster home is the first stable and loving environment the pets have ever experienced. Foster parents have the unique opportunity to personally help our rescued animals.

Why are foster parents needed?

Some animal shelters are forced to euthanize dozens of healthy and friendly animals each day to make space for the new ones coming into the shelter. Northeast Animal Shelter is a no-kill shelter. We are contacted every week by individuals and organizations wanting our help to save the pets in their care. Many of these pets are highly adoptable. Simply put, foster parents maximize the number of pets who can be saved.

Why should I become a foster caregiver?

Would you feel good knowing you are making a difference, in the life of a displaced pet? A few months of inconvenience turns quickly into a rewarding, educational, challenging, and fun experience you will never forget.

Fostering can be rigorous, but it is always rewarding! Fostering also helps us evaluate the pet so we can provide as much information as possible to help us place the pet in the perfect home. Foster caregivers must be 21 years of age or older. If you rent a house or apartment, we will contact your landlord for verification of his or her permission for you to have pets temporarily. Some foster caregivers will use a spare bedroom, bathroom, laundry room for their foster pets.

But, you should understand that choosing to be a foster caregiver is a serious undertaking. It will change your routine and your own companion animals will need to be okay with it. Fostering is a very rewarding experience for everyone involved. Not only do foster caregivers nurture and care for their charges, they really "share" the experience with the pets.

What is involved?

Being a foster caregiver involves feeding, cleaning, grooming, and playing with the animals. Sometimes, however, that's just the tip of the iceberg for fosters. Because many rescued animals are sick, stressed, or frightened, they may require special care. A frightened animal may require weeks of extra attention and behavioral modification to become ready for adoption.

Fostering a pet in need of shelter, love, and guidance is a time-consuming effort, but it's also one of the most rewarding ways to help homeless pets. Providing a "stepping stone" for animals in search of permanent homes saves lives, alleviates the strain on animal shelters, helps set the stage for successful adoptions, and teaches you the skills that will enable you to help other animals in need.

Will my household and lifestyle be a good fit?

The health and welfare of all individuals in your home — human and animal — must be considered before bringing in another creature. Fostering a homeless pet should never be considered unless your home environment is happy, safe, healthy, and spacious enough to nurture the foster pet adequately and retain sanity among the existing members of your home. If any of your family members have allergies, excessive stress, other physical or mental health issues, career instability, financial difficulties, or housing or space restrictions, fostering is not a good option for you at this time.

But if you believe you have the ability to foster, and the entire household agrees that fostering would be a positive experience, your next question should be "Do I have the time?"

Fostering a shelter pet is a 24/7 job. Although you may not be physically interacting with the pet every second of the day, you will be responsible around the clock for the pet's safety, comfort, and general well-being, and this responsibility alone can be exhausting.

If your work or family schedule is already so hectic that adding another time-consuming responsibility will only create more stress, do not consider fostering at this time.

The amount of personal attention needed will vary greatly from pet to pet, but you can expect to spend anywhere from three to seven hours a day interacting with a foster pet, and even more if you're planning to foster puppies or kittens. Teaching dogs or cats the lessons they will need to become happy, thriving, lifelong members of another family is the essence of fostering, and this takes time and patience.

Can I keep the pet I foster if I want to?

Yes, you usually can. It does happen quite often, because it is only natural to become attached to a pet you take care of and nurture. We suspect is one of the reasons that foster homes are in short supply. If you do become inseparably attached to a foster pet, we hope you will still volunteer to foster other pets in the future.

Do I get to choose the pet I foster?

This is not very likely. We will place a pet based on need, temperament, and matched to your abilities.

What about expenses?

Northeast Animal Shelter will cover the cost of veterinary care, food, and supplies.

Veterinary care is paid for by NEAS, provided you take your foster pet to a pre-approved veterinarian. We have established relationships with individual area veterinarians and they provide certain services for us at a lower rate. In case of emergency, you would need to check with the Shelter before seeking any medical care.

We may request that certain foods be fed to your foster pet. Sometimes a pet will not eat at first, s/he may be frightened or nervous. Eventually s/he will eat. For the same reasons, s/he may have diarrhea in the beginning. Feed a bland diet and monitor the stool for changes. We ask that you keep us up to date on any issues that may occur during their stay with you.

Will I have difficulty letting go?

Anyone who fosters must be realistic about the expected outcome: the pet will be adopted by another family. While it is impossible not to become attached to a sweet dog or cat living in your home, it's necessary to keep your original goals in mind and remain committed to finding the pet a new family.

Of course it can be a difficult process for you to let them go, but keep this in mind: Once one rescue has found a good home, that opens up a space for another one to be saved.

Maybe you are thinking...

Oh, I could NEVER do that! I could NEVER give up the pet! Well, we know how you feel, because we all feel the same way. Admittedly, it is not painless, you do cry, and you miss them. Yet, we promise, the pain disappears when another NEW pet arrives from the shelter that NEEDS you.The pain is fleeting compared to the wonderful feeling of knowing that YOU truly are saving more than one pet's life by allowing us to have enough foster homes.

I already own a dog and a cat. Can I still foster?

We ask that you keep a foster cat separate from your own pets. Foster dogs may be allowed to interact with your own pets. Before you bring a foster animal home, consult with your veterinarian to make sure your own pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations. You may wish to ask your veterinarian if your pets need any additional vaccinations.

What happens when I arrive home with my new foster pet?

When introducing a pet to a new environment, do so gradually. Remember that the pet might be frightened and could bite, run away, scratch, or cower in a corner. Depending on the pet and his/her history, there may be incidents of housebreaking issues, spraying, damage, and/or barking. Please be forewarned and “animal proof” your home.

If you have children, we request that you monitor their contact with a foster pet at all times. We cannot guarantee any pet’s behavior and this will help to protect both the child and the pet. Foster pets are under a lot of stress and do best in a quiet environment.

NO FOSTER PET IS ALLOWED OUTSIDE UNATTENDED OR UNRESTRAINED. If you feel you cannot go along with this, you should not foster because the foster animal’s life will be compromised. NO CAT SHOULD EVER BE ALLOWED OUTSIDE FOR ANY REASON UNLESS IT IS IN A CARRIER.

Pets do die. This is a reality of being involved in this kind of work. If you take a sick pet and there is a concern about its future, you must be prepared for his/her possible death. If you cannot handle this, please say so.

To become a foster parent for dogs or cats, please download and fill out our Foster Care Application.

We could save so many more cats and dogs if we had YOUR help.