Preparing To Foster
What you need to know
Preparing your pets
The first thing you need to do when considering foster care is to protect your personal animals. Animals can come to us from unknown origins, sometimes with underlying medical issues and conditions, so it is important that you protect your family pets as much as you can. If you choose to foster puppies, you may be exposing your own pets to upper respiratory infections and worms or parasites.
Before bringing home your first foster animal, make sure your animals are up to date with their vaccinations. Talk to your veterinarian about fostering and follow their recommendations about any precautions you need to take. The veterinarian may suggest additional vaccinations/immunizations to protect your animal. You are responsible for any treatments and costs related to your own animals.
Preparing your home
Dogs are curious creatures. Some are capable of jumping onto high surfaces or squeezing into the smallest of spaces. To protect foster animals in a new environment and to safeguard your belongings, it is necessary to animal-proof your entire house. NEVER underestimate your foster animal’s abilities. Accidents happen!
Once you have chosen an area where you will care for your foster guests, you should “pet-proof” the area. Pay attention to any small or dangerous objects, such as pins, needles, paper clips, nails, staples, thread, string, rubber bands, caustic/toxic chemicals, moth balls, plants and any other items that are potentially dangerous. Animals are also attracted to electrical cords, TV cords, telephone cords and curtains. These items should all be blocked so they can’t get at them. A good rule of thumb is “if you don’t want to lose it, put it away”. Also, to ensure nothing is missed, get down at an animal’s eye-level. Look closely for any small holes or dangerous items that may have been missed at your first pass of pet-proofing
Precautions to take by room
Use childproof latches to keep little paws from prying open cabinets
Keep medications, cleaners, chemicals and laundry supplies on high shelves or in childproofed cabinets
Keep trashcans covered or inside a latched cabinet
Check for and block any small spaces, nooks or holes inside cabinetry, furniture, floors, appliances, etc. where your foster pets may hide. Also make certain that spaces behind washer/dryer units are closed off so your foster animals can’t get in there either.
ALWAYS keep your dryer and washer units closed!!! Make sure your fosters haven’t jumped into the dryer or washer before you turn it on! (This does happen.)
Keep all foods out of reach and/or in cabinets. Even if the food isn’t harmful to the dog, the wrapper could be.
KEEP TOILET LIDS CLOSED to prevent drowning. Curious puppies and kittens can easily fall in and drown.
Place dangling wires from lamps, DVD players, TVs, stereos and phones out of reach. You can place the cords through PVC pipes to prevent the pets chewing on them.
Keep children’s toys put away.
Put away knickknacks that are valuable to you or understand that the foster pets can easily knock things over. If it is important to you, don’t leave it out.
Block any spaces where your vacuum can’t fit but a foster pet could.
Remove dangerous items like strings, pins, yarn, etc.
Move houseplants–many of which can be poisonous–out of reach. This includes hanging plants that can be jumped onto from other nearby surfaces.
Put away all sewing and craft supplies–especially thread and yarn. If ingested, these items can obstruct cat or puppies’ bowels, sometimes requiring extensive surgery to reverse.
Secure aquariums and cages that house small animals, such as hamsters or fish, to keep them safe from curious paws.
Most garages contain too many dangerous chemicals and unsafe items to be an acceptable foster site. Foster animals should never be housed in a garage.
Move all chemicals to high shelves or behind secure doors.
Clean up all antifreeze from the floor and driveway!!! One taste can be lethal to an animal!
Bedrooms are not ideal situations for foster animals. If scared of the new environment, animals can hide under beds and are hard to coax out. In worst case scenarios, dogs can burrow into box springs or mattresses where it can be nearly impossible to get them out.
Keep laundry and shoes behind closed doors (drawstrings and loose buttons can cause major problems)
Keep any medications, lotions or cosmetics off accessible surface (like the bedside table)
Move electrical and phone wires out of reach of chewing
Other Potentially Dangerous Situations
Closet and bedroom doors
Open doors to the outside
Open dryer doors
Open cabinet doors
Whatever room you choose to make your foster animal’s new home, make sure that it is easily cleaned. You should be able to disinfect it between foster groups. Carpet and other soft surfaces can harbor disease hosts from group to group. It is also difficult to clean up accidents on carpet, especially when they seep into the carpet pad. Bathrooms and other areas with tile, hardwood or other impermeable surfaces are ideal places to house your foster animals.
Preparing your yard
If you have a fenced in backyard, check that there aren’t holes in the fence or any other escape route. Do NOT leave your foster dog in the backyard without your supervision. You will be amazed what little holes a big dog can get out of or what tall fences a dog can jump! Never leave a foster dog unattended or unwatched outside. Keep your foster dog on a leash for his/her first few trips outside as he/she explores the new environment.
Fostering Q & A
Answers to common questions
How do I get assigned my foster?
We send out a weekly list to our volunteer distribution list of dogs in need of foster homes. We allow you to choose the dog you would like to foster based on what fits best with your lifestyle. We have puppies, adults, and seniors, so there really is a dog for all types of homes.
What if I have commitments and can’t take in a new foster?
You can foster as your time permits. Obviously our goal is to place as many dogs in foster as we can so that we can continue to save more dogs. We always have other volunteer opportunities when your schedule will not permit you to take a foster, but you would like to still help.
How long will I have my foster?
It depends. On average, our fosters stay in care for less than a month before they are placed in their forever homes.
What do I need to foster?
Large amounts of patience and love.
A willingness to accept a rescue dog as part of your family.
The willingness to evaluate temperament and reinforce basic commands (sit, stay, come).
A schedule that allows you to exercise the dog regularly and a safe place for the dog to stay while you are gone.
What will FOHA ask of me during fostering?
Our fosters need regular feeding, fresh water and a safe home. Most of all, a foster family provides the love and attention these dogs so desperately want. Foster families also provide insight to the dog’s behavior, attitude and temperament so that we can place him or her in the proper forever home. We will ask you to talk to potential adopters and ask your opinion on the fit of your foster with the applicant. If you have a meet and greet, your impressions on the “fit” of that dog with the family are a part of the approval process.
What happens if my foster needs to go to the vet?
Unless it is an emergency situation, you must contact FOHA before making a vet appointment. A large portion of our operating budget goes towards veterinary care. We have pre-negotiated rates with many of the local vets and clinics in the North East and we encourage you to take your foster to these locations. FOHA will cover the cost of all vaccinations and other medical bills. You may need to take your foster to the vet for removing stitches or for treatment for worms (we treat, but sometimes they need an additional treatment).
We ask you speak with your vet before you take a foster in, to explain what you will be doing. Please do ask them if they will provide any sort of discount to us as a rescue. If they need paperwork proving we are a non-profit organization, we can provide this. We can also recommend vets who give “rescue rates.”
How do I know what vet work has been done for my foster before I get them?
They will come with an envelope with all vet records and shelter records, which you will send along with the dog to his/her new home.
Will I have any other responsibilities?
We ask that you provide food and love. Some of our rescues have been through a lot and have special needs so need extra patience. Many need to learn some basic obedience and to learn house manners. Occasionally, we have adoption events in your area, and will invite you to bring your foster. After all, this is where they will most likely meet their prospective adopters! We ask that you send us updates so we can update their bio on Petfinder and to take new pictures of them for the website. FOHA may put you in contact with potential adopters to tell them about the dog. If you are not comfortable with speaking to potential adopters, we will field the questions for you.
How can I help acclimate the dog into my home?
A crate is always a good idea for your foster. If you don’t have your own, someone in the group may be willing to let you borrow theirs. Our group members are always available to discuss any issues you are facing. Most problems have been encountered by someone who will offer their help. We will also put you in contact with a Foster Buddy when you first join the group to get you familiar with the process.
What if the dog doesn’t get along with my other dogs?
If the foster dog is not able to get along with your other dogs, cats or family members, we would work to place the dog in another home. Please understand if this situation occurs, that this may take some time as most of our foster homes are full. While we are working to find another foster, it is extremely important to keep all the pets and family members safe which may mean separating them in a different room, in a crate, using baby gates, etc.
What are the advantages and disadvantages to fostering?
The advantages are that you are providing a valuable service; you are saving a dog’s life.
Fostering is a way to enjoy companionship without making a lifelong commitment. You would be helping to rehabilitate a dog that may have been abandoned, neglected or even abused. It is also very rewarding to see a dog you have cared for, placed in a loving permanent home! You will also make some wonderful friends along the way. Many forever families will continue to send you updates and photos, year after year.
The disadvantages are that it is very easy to get attached to the dog you foster and it can be hard to see them go. Of course, if you decide your foster dog is “THE ONE” for you, adoption is always an option.
How can I become a foster home?
If you are interested in fostering for FOHA, please fill out our online application. Once you have been approved to foster, you will get an email invitation to join our e-group that is set up privately for FOHA volunteers. You will receive the majority of your info from this group rather than individual e-mails.
Thank you for supporting Friends of Homeless Animals.
Become a Foster Home
Fostering a rescue dog is an extremely rewarding experience. A foster home is not simply a place to keep a dog until it is adopted. Rather, a foster home plays an important role in a dog’s transition from the life they left behind to their new more promising future. Foster homes provide the love, support, and stability that these dogs need during a critical time in their lives. If you want to change the life of a homeless dog, please fill out our application to be a foster home.
We check references and conduct a home visit. If you rent we must have your landlord’s name and phone number to verify you are allowed to have a dog. Most dogs are evaluated and vetted prior to entering into foster care. You supply the food and a safe and loving environment. Some dogs need help with house training, socialization, or obedience.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Please note- we are not currently accepting foster home applications from Massachusetts residents as we are licensed in RI. For a list of licensed MA rescues see: