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Shelters need foster families when an animal cannot be adopted immediately because they are too young, have medical or behavioral issues, or the shelter is simply overcrowded. Regardless if you open up your home to a dog, cat, bird, small pets, pig, any pet, you can feel wonderful knowing you have saved a life and cared for a pet who will soon find his or her forever home. Each organization will have their own set of requirements and paperwork for becoming a pet foster parent, so you will need to check with the shelter you want to foster for.

The foster program will select a good match for you, your family, and other pets you may have in the home based on meeting and the answers given on your foster application. From educating yourself on the kind of animal, to the foster pet’s individual needs, the things you need to know before becoming a pet foster parent can be similar to that of adopting. Be on the top of your game to be the kick-ass foster mom or dad every pet wants to live with!

There are common need-to-knows that include making sure you meet foster requirements, being physically able to care for an animal, and attending an orientation and foster training. Now, here’s a kind of beginner’s guide on how to be an awesome pet foster parent!

Learn What it Means to Foster a Pet

Maybe you saw a Facebook post by a local animal shelter seeking foster parents to care for dogs and puppies. Even though you love doggies and your heart is in the right place, you should keep in mind the fact that a foster animal will have to be returned to the shelter or to their new family after a set upon foster time, which can be anywhere from a few days to a few months. And depending on your abilities, you might be asked to take in pets with behavior issues that require you to do behavior training or those with special needs which could mean giving medications, physical therapy.

Research the Kind of Pet You Want to Foster

Even if you have or have had a dog or cat, you should brush up on your creature knowledge before committing to foster. It’s not that us pet parents are slackers on keeping up on our pet knowledge, but we do tend to get comfortable with what we are doing in raising our creatures. Although it’s best to foster animals you have experience in, you can still take in anyone. See if the shelter has info sheets to give you a crash course on the kind of pet you want to foster.

Have the Time, Have the Necessities

Unless a foster pet needs constant care, you can indeed be a foster parent if you work a full-time job. Most shelter animals are healthy and do not require content monitoring. However, you still need to have time to exercise them and to give them much-needed attention. When you foster an animal, the shelter or organization should provide basic needs for all animals like food, bedding, toys, ID tags, kitty litter, medications, and veterinary care. You are welcome to buy special treats, toys, or anything else for your foster! Check with the shelter to see what supplies they provide.

Prepare Your Home, Family, and Companion Pets

Make a foster pet feel extra welcomed by preparing all who live with you. All humans in the home need to agree to work together with a foster pet and all permanent pet residents must have vaccinations up to date to prevent the spread of communicable diseases commonly found in a shelter environment. Prepare your home by creating a safe place for any pet by having stair gates, securing exposed electrical cords, keeping all chewable items out of reach, and setting up a sleeping space the foster can have all to himself.

Be Able to Love but Let Go

Are you hesitant to become a pet foster parent because you’re afraid of having a broken heart when you have to give them back? You are not alone! Just remember that you gave them a warm, loving temporary home while they waited for their forever family to find them. It was a rewarding experience and you saved a pet’s life!

Hey, current pet foster parents! You know these are just a few How-Tos — what would you add? Any tips for those thinking of becoming pet foster parents?

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