Looking for something hands-on, fun, and rewarding to do with your kids this summer? We recommend fostering a pet that can add a little summer excitement while they’re out of school. It’s a great way for them to learn about responsibility, compassion for animals, and giving back to the community. Of course, as a parent, you’ll need to be a solid backup and be prepared to meet all the needs of the foster pet and not just rely on your kids. And with the proper supervision and guidance, you’ll be able to create a memorable experience for your whole family. If your kids have been begging for a pet, fostering is also a great way to test if you are all really up for long-term pet ownership.
How can I find a pet to foster?
You can easily search on websites like us (www.911fosterpets.com) or contact animal shelters or rescue organizations. You’ll get matched with a foster pet based on your family’s lifestyle, preferences, and the length of time you can foster. It’s okay if you don’t have past experience as the owner and organization should be able to let you know how to give the basic and special care the pet needs.
How long is the period of fostering?
Depending on the circumstance, fostering a pet is usually between a few weeks to a couple of months. We recommend that you discuss this upfront with the owner (or shelter, rescue organization).
Who pays for the expenses?
Unlike some pet adoption fees, fostering is free and all veterinary care should be covered by the pet owner or the rescue organization’s vet. They can often help provide most of the supplies needed too, such as pet food, bowls, a crate, etc. And of course, if your help to cover any cost is helpful too. You can easily outline details in a foster care agreement like this one that you can easily create and sign online.
What benefits will fostering have?
Aside from the companionship of an animal in need and saving their life, if the pet comes from a shelter or a rescue organization, you’re making room for other pets in need to have a chance to find a family like yours.
If you don’t have pets, it’s a great way for your kids to learn compassion towards animals and how to interact with pets. If you’re looking for your children to experience the miracle of life, there are often pregnant dogs and cats who are in desperate need of a safe place to have their babies.
Fostering a pet can provide lots of fun to off-set summer boredom too. For example, playing hide and seek can help teach your foster pet a lifesaving skill, coming when called. Reading to your foster dog or cat will help your kids practice their reading skills over the summer. Making forts, doing treasure hunts (with toys or treats), baking treats, playing outdoors in the sprinklers or pool, teaching fun tricks, the list never ends. All of these activities will keep your kids engaged and will help show your foster pet what it is like to be a part of a loving family.
Furthermore, the experience will allow you to learn more about your family’s preferences. Do they prefer a dog over a cat? What breed do they like? If you foster a few times, you may find the different experiences help you to get a clear picture of what is best for your family and environment.
How can we deal with the sadness when we return the pet?
First-time foster parents are often concerned about how their kids will handle it when it’s time for their foster pet to move on. Saying goodbye can be sad, but the fact that your family will save the life of a pet that may have otherwise had an uncertain future will far outweigh a little sadness. Of course, the invaluable lessons learned should also make your kids proud of what they’ll accomplish this summer! Just make sure to clearly communicate upfront that your kids are helping the pet until it moves onto their forever home. Reminding them that if all goes well, they may be able to help another one soon. After the fostering is over, you can encourage them to write a letter to the future adopters telling them all about their foster pet. Better yet, they can probably attend adoption events and introduction meetings (known as meet and greets) giving them a chance to meet the adopters. If the adopters are local, perhaps your family would consider offering to petsit on occasion so you can see the pet your family fostered from time to time.
Your family will look back on your summer staycation with unforgettable memories of your foster pet and the undeniable feeling of fulfillment because you all made the world a better place for a pet and their new family.
Anything else I should do to prepare?
Fostering a pet is fun and exciting. All your family needs to do is take care of your foster pet and make sure that the pet is included in your loving family. You’ll discover how wonderful it is to take care of a pet and help them transition to homes where they’ll be loved and taken care of permanently. To learn more about fostering a pet, check out our FAQ. The Pet Academy has great free online courses for deep-dive training on fostering too. You’ll learn more about what it takes to foster a pet and determine whether it’s right for your family.