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Why Foster for the RSPCA?

May 26, 2015

Good evening ladies and gentleman, I’d like to just take a few minutes of your time to talk about fostering animals, how it helps, and what this entails.

Last year alone we rehomed 738 animals. 151 of those were dogs, 427 cats, 71 rabbits, and 89 birds and rodents. 200 of those went out on foster. So as you can imagine, we were rather busy!

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Why foster?

The majority of the animals that come in are perfectly healthy, have no problems and are rehomed in a relatively short space of time. But we do receive a number of animals that can have various health or behaviour problems. Or, we may get kittens and puppies that are too young to be in a shelter, and need constant care and monitoring. Not to mention the number of pregnant cats and sometimes dogs that we receive. A home is a far less stressful environment for them to give birth in. This is where fosterers help play a very important role for us.

Some animals may exhibit signs of stress in a shelter environment, or may be recovering from illness or surgery. To be able to offer a temporary home is great, as it can help them recuperate in a calm and relatively stress free environment.

Some animals, dogs more so, can be in shelters for up to a year! To expect a dog to make a seamless transition from kennel to home is unlikely. There are new smells, new routines, new sounds, new diets..heck, even the feel of a carpet under a dogs paws can be strange for a dog. All of these can prove initially stressful. Conversely, an animal coming from a home (for any number of reasons) to a shelter, can find it hard to adjust to all the new sounds and smells. Some of our animals really to struggle to cope with this, which can be difficult when trying to suggest a dog for example, to a prospective adopter if it’s growling or jumping up at the bars. Especially when we know that in the yard or on a walk, the dog is fine. Sadly, a lot of people can’t overlook these first impressions. By being willing to foster, you can help habituate a dog or another animal to all these new stimuli’s, thus helping not only the animal but the new adopters too.

Fostering an animal is great for socialisation too. For the animal, they get to be around different people, are handled, meet different animals, all this helps more then you may think. Not to mention it can be great for your socialisation too, it’s certainly a conversation starter!

By fostering an animal, it frees up a kennel or a cat pod, which in turn allows us to help more animals.

We spoke to volunteer fosterer Sam, and she explains why she decided to foster here.

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What is required of you?

What level of care you will need to provide, depends on the animal in question. Kittens and puppies will need near constant care, with feeding, cleaning, and just keeping an eye on them.

We may need some animals to go on foster to aid in their recovery from surgery or injuries they have sustained. Some dogs may have behavioural issues, or have no training. Your help to correct and give the appropriate training can be invaluable. Imagine taking on a dog and at the end thinking,

“I’ve trained it to sit, to paw, to walk nicely on a lead”.

Yes, it can be tough at the end of the process to give up and animal that you have given your time to. Especially when you’ve trained it, nurtured it, and enjoyed the company you have given each other. But you need to remember you’ve helped get the animal prepared for a new home where it will be loved just as much. You are helping the new adopters too. You can let us know of any issues, or traits, or things the animal likes/dislikes, all this information helps us find the perfect home for the animals in our care. What greater satisfaction can you have? Then you can do it all over again!

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Who can foster?

Anyone can foster. But please be realistic, you need to consider your needs and those of the animal. Yes kittens and puppies are adorable, yes you may love how cute they are. But if you work full time, this will not be suitable to either party. Now I’m not saying if you work full time you can’t help us. Not at all, but taking on an older animal that doesn’t need continual care could be something to consider.

Imagine taking on an older dog for example. They will usually be trained, and may know commands (if not, why not teach them some! An old dog can learn new tricks) You don’t need to worry if it’s going to grow too big, and most older animals may be used to being home alone whilst you are at work. But then when you get home, you both have company! Who doesn’t want to be greeted by a wagging tail?!

Some animals may only need fostering for a week, some may need to be fostered up to month, maybe more. New born kittens with their mum, ideally won’t come into the shelter until around 6-8 weeks of age. So you’ll need to think about this if you have a holiday coming up.

Whilst the animal is on foster, we can provide you with food, we pay for any veterinary treatment that may need to be required. Don’t worry about flea and worming, we’ll sort that. You may just need to administer it. We can provide blankets and bedding too. If of course you wish to buy food or toys yourself, you are welcome. This will be at your own expense though (but then you have things for the next animal you may foster).

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Can I foster if I have animals?

If you have animals, but are willing to take on the extra responsibility, we will of course consider you. This is dependent on the animal though. Not all of our animals would be suited to a multi pet household. We do have a few criteria to meet though. You must have no more than 4 animals of the same species. All animals of the same species must be neutered and fully vaccinated. In terms of dogs, we must do a dog meet between the dogs in question to ensure they can get on. You must be willing to have a mandatory home visit done. This is just to ensure everything is suitable, and in the case of dogs, that you have a secure garden. With regards to cats, they must be kept indoors for the duration of the stay as well.

If you are fostering a pregnant animal or a one that has offspring, they must have a separate room away from the other animals.

If you are serious and would like to help us, come down and have a chat with us. We’ll go through everything you need to know, answer any questions, and there’s a little bit of paperwork to do. We will find out what experience you have, as this helps match the right animal to you. Then we’ll arrange to have a mandatory home visit done. If that passes, we’ll look to get you hooked up with an animal that needs your help as a fosterer.

Finally, although very hard sometimes, try not to adopt the first animal you foster like I did! 

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Alex Sandham

Animal Care Assistant


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