The bridge to a forever home
By Carie Broecker
There are lots of reasons to foster a dog for your local rescue group or shelter. My husband, Scott, and I have been fostering since 1998. We have fostered hundreds of dogs, puppies, cats, and kittens over the years. What keeps us going? The joy of finding the perfect forever family for our foster babies and knowing that there is always one more needy homeless animal we can help next.
Have you considered becoming a foster parent for a shelter dog? What are you waiting for? There are lots of reasons to get started now.
If you aren’t ready to make a lifetime commitment to a new family member but do have some extra time and space for another dog in your home, fostering might be perfect for you. Many rescue dogs just need a safe, temporary place for 4–6 weeks while looking for their forever home. Older dogs or special-needs dogs might take a little longer.
If you aren’t sure about fostering because you travel for work or pleasure, no problem. Most rescue organizations can find fill-in foster homes or can board dogs when their foster parents travel.
Little to No Extra Expenses
Most rescue groups and shelters cover all the medical expenses to get your foster dog into tip-top condition for adoption. Most groups also provide all the supplies you need as well: bed, crate, collar, harness, I.D. tag, leash, and bowls. You may or may not be asked to provide food.
Shop Around for a Family Member
Some volunteers foster with the intention of adopting at some point. You may foster 25 dogs, and somewhere in there is the one you just can’t part with. That’s ok! There is no better way than fostering to find a dog with a personality and energy level that fit perfectly into your family. You can check out the chemistry between your foster dog and your own dog. If they hit it off and enhance each other’s lives, maybe you have a new family member.
The Joy of Making a Difference
There is nothing like the feeling of knowing your foster dog is in the best home possible. It’s all about the match—matching the dog’s needs, personality, and energy level with that of an adopter. When you find a match made in heaven, it is exciting and almost magical. The feeling that they were “meant to be together” is heartwarming.
Many foster families stay in touch with the adoptive families for years to come, exchanging emails, photos, and stories.
One More in Need
No matter how many times you foster and how many times you adopt out your foster dog, there will always be another one who needs your help. It’s healthy to take little breaks so you don’t burn out, but if and when you can, keep fostering until there are no more homeless pets!
Sarah and Matt Valancy (pictured above)
Sarah and Matt Valancy have fostered over 20 dogs for Animal Friends Rescue Project in the last three years. After fostering and adopting out their first few foster dogs, Sarah says she and Matt became addicted to the process, and after an adoption were always ready to go get the next dog in need.
Sarah also says, “It is so worthwhile and fun meeting so many different dogs with all their different personalities. There is nothing like the feeling of seeing a dog become part of a family and knowing he will be the center of their life.”
And yes, they did end up keeping two—Jake and Molly, who are now the best of friends.
Ann McBride and Kylie De Jesus
Ann and her daughter, Kylie, have been fostering dogs and cats for the last eight years. They have fostered for Animal Friends Rescue Project and Peace of Mind Dog Rescue. They started fostering when Kylie was just 3 years old. At 11 years, she has more animal experience than many adults.
Ann and Kylie have fostered puppies, senior dogs, kittens, adult cats, and moms with kittens. They even provided hospice care to Shadow, a 14-year-old Schnauzer mix with heart and kidney failure, who passed away earlier this year.
Although they have adopted out most of the cats and dogs they’ve fostered, they did end up adopting a few themselves. Three of their current adopted dogs are Billy, a 17-year-old Maltese; Coco, a 12-year-old blind Chihuahua; and Marley, a 7-year-old Havanese. They are currently fostering Lexi, a three-year-old Chihuahua mix and Betsy, a one-year-old Havanese. Ann says, “I feel good knowing that my efforts give a wonderful life to a dog that at one time had no hope.” Young Kylie says, “I really enjoy seeing all the animals come into my home, and it makes me happy to see them find the perfect forever home."
Interested in fostering? There are many groups in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties who can use your help:
Animal Friends Rescue Project
Animal Shelter Relief
Center for Animal Protection and Education
Monterey Bay Labrador Retriever Rescue
Monterey County Animal Services 831-769-8850
Peace of Mind Dog Rescue
Salinas Animal Services 831-758-7285
Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter
Santa Cruz SPCA
SPCA for Monterey County