Pet Foster Care Myths

Janet McAfee

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Marie Marcinko, has fostered 93 dogs for Loving All Animals. Many of the animals she has fostered are orphan puppies or mothers with young litters. Marie is a huge advocate for pet fostering, and she hopes to inspire others to join her in this life-saving venture. She recently welcomed a homeless mother dog and her litter of one-week old puppies.

Marie Marcinko

Marie Marcinko»

Marie enthusiastically explains, “I love fostering! It fulfills me so much I can’t put it into words. It’s so rewarding to know that I have saved these precious lives. I’m retired, and fostering gives me purpose. I wish other seniors would join me in this endeavor. Fostering touches my heart, and I can’t imagine ever giving it up.”

“I’m retired, and fostering gives me purpose. I wish other seniors would join me in this endeavor.” — Marie Marcinko

When you open up your heart and home to foster a dog or cat, you are not only saving lives, you are providing the love and attention that helps them become adoptable. Fostering “expands the walls of our shelters.” Animals needing fostering come from a variety of situations. Some are in public “open admission” overcrowded shelters. Others need foster homes when their humans become incapacitated or pass away without a plan for them. Some are abandoned strays, who are starving, thirsty, and frightened.

Pet fostering is the key to the Coachella Valley becoming a no-kill community. If you love animals, consider giving fostering a try. What comes to your mind when you consider fostering? Here are some of the myths about fostering and the facts about what it actually entails.

MYTH #1: I can’t foster because I already have pets

FACT: While there are a few dogs and cats that don’t care for other animals, most animals do well if provided the proper introduction. Your dog can even help socialize and train the newcomer. Many animals needing fostering have already passed a quarantine period. However, young kittens and puppies may need to be kept separate, as they need time to build up their immune systems.

MYTH #2: Fostering a pet will cost me money

FACT: The animal welfare organization pays for all veterinary care, including needed vaccinations and spaying or neutering. They will provide you with pet food and needed supplies. Fostering is actually a great avenue if you want the companionship of a pet but can’t afford the vet bills and other associated costs.

MYTH #3: Pets needing foster care are sick or have behavior problems

FACT: While a few need extra home nursing care while they recover from illness or injury, the vast majority are healthy animals. They are homeless through no fault of their own. If your foster animal becomes sick, the rescue group or shelter will provide veterinary care. Dogs are assessed before being assigned to a foster home. One of the joys of fostering is watching their happy personalities unfold with your loving care. You are not expected to take an animal you cannot handle, and pets needing more training go to experienced fosters. You can specify the size, age, and temperament of the animal you want.

MYTH #4: My home or apartment is too small

FACT: It really depends. Some large, active dogs may require more space, including a yard. Many small dogs and all cats do fine in apartments. For kittens, all you need is an enclosed playpen or even an extra bathroom.

MYTH #5: I don’t have the contacts to get a pet adopted

FACT: While contacts through your friends and family are welcome, the sponsoring organization arranges for adoption “meet and greets.” Through social media websites, a vast number of potential adopters can view the animals.

MYTH #6: I can’t commit to months of caring for an animal

FACT: Social media has changed everything. Most rescue animals are adopted very quickly when posted on Petfinder and Adopt-A-Pet, often with multiple individuals wanting them. One woman recently drove across the country to adopt a senior Chihuahua at Loving All Animals after falling in love with her online photo. Fostering typically lasts 1 to 3 weeks. The time is longer for underage puppies and kittens, who are nursing or being bottle fed.

MYTH #7: Fostering will tie me down

FACT: Marie explains, “The first day or two, I stay home to make sure the new dog gets settled and does well with my dogs. After that, I resume my normal activities.” Some foster parents have full-time jobs. If another obligation comes up for you, the sponsoring organization can arrange for a substitute foster.

MYTH #8: I’m not qualified to foster

FACT: Most foster parents are not skilled animal professionals. They are “regular” people who love animals. Marie states, “There was so much support from the Loving All Animals foster coordinator when I started. I can also consult with an experienced dog trainer when needed.” Most groups provide an orientation and ongoing training.

MYTH #9: I will be too sad when they leave to be adopted

FACT: You might be a bit sad to say goodbye, but think about how sad that animal feels sitting in a shelter kennel after being discarded by its family. Think about how terrified an abandoned animal feels when they are alone, without food or shelter. Marie explains how she can say goodbye: “I get a little teary, but I know there is another dog waiting that needs me. I get to meet their new family and tell them about their new pet. I get happy updates from the adopters, including Christmas cards. I have photos of all 93 dogs!”

MYTH #10: I will want to adopt them all!

FACT: The vast majority of foster parents understand they are part of the animal’s journey, and their role is to prepare it for the forever home. However, it’s happily called a “foster failure” when foster parents adopt their foster pet. After adopting, most continue to foster additional animals because they don’t want to give up this rewarding experience.

If you live in Palm Springs, contact the Palm Springs Animal Shelter at foster@psanimalshelter.org or call (760) 416-5718. The Coachella Valley Animal Campus, our Riverside County shelter in Thousand Palms, especially needs help with fostering young kittens; email them about fostering at foster@rivco.org. To foster for Loving All Animals, contact info@lovingallanimals.org, or call (760) 834-7000. Thank you for opening up your heart and home to foster a homeless pet. Working together, we can save them all! P.S. All these organizations welcome adult foster parents of all ages!

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