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Becoming a Foster

10 Ways to Become a Successful Foster Parent

1. Give your foster animal lots of attention and affection.
The animal you are fostering may have special needs that require time and energy. The animal may have lived a difficult life before coming to your home; your love and attention will help to heal the animal's physical and psychological wounds.

2. Learn as much as you can about pet care.
Before you bring home a foster animal, learn as much as you can about caring for that animal. Read about feeding, grooming, and training. Study the warning signs that may indicate the animal needs veterinary attention.

3. Be prepared to make a financial commitment.
Before volunteering to foster an animal, find out from the shelter or rescue group what costs you will incur. Depending on your group's policies and resources, you may be asked to pay for food and/or supplies.

4. Make your home pet-friendly.
Before you bring your foster animal home, make sure you "pet proof" your home. For example, remove poisonous plants and protect furnishings. Keep the animal's room warm and comfortable. Also, take steps to prevent the animal from escaping.

5. Keep your pets up-to-date on their vaccinations.
All animals should be current on the vaccinations that protect them from diseases. Before you bring your foster animal home, consult with your veterinarian to make sure your own animals have received the preventive treatment they need.

6. Keep foster animals away from your own pets.
A foster pet may come into your home harboring contagious diseases. Even though your pets are vaccinated against many diseases, it's a good idea to keep the foster animal away from your pets as an added precaution.

7. Recognize your limits.
Fostering requires a great deal of time and energy--both emotional and physical. Don't overextend yourself by fostering animals too frequently; you may burn yourself out.

8. Return the animal to the group on time.
The animal welfare group depends on you to make its program work. Be sure to return the animal to the group at the scheduled time. If you decide to adopt an animal you foster, go through the group's normal adoption process. If a friend or relative wants to adopt the animal you are fostering, that person must go through the group's adoption process--not yours.

9. Understand that some foster animals will not survive.
Many animals who arrive in a group come from unknown backgrounds. Despite your best efforts, the animal you foster may develop a severe illness that cannot be treated. Do the best you can to help the animal, but accept the fact that you cannot save them all.

10. Enjoy being a foster parent.
Although fostering takes a great deal of time and commitment, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience. You are temporarily providing a needy animal with a loving home environment and helping that animal become more suitable for adoption into a responsible, lifelong home.

See also "Becoming a foster home: How you can save a life by giving a temporary home to a foster animal."

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