Here are some general animal foster care guidelines for foster parents.
We work closely with foster parents to find the right “match” between the foster pet(s), your home environment (e.g., your own pets, kids and other family members, space), and your work schedule. As a foster parent, your responsibilities would include the following.
To make your fostering experience as positive as possible for you, your family and your furry charge, please commit the following to memory before bringing him/her home:
If you are considering taking on the rewarding and incredibly helpful task of fostering a homeless animal for Chicago Pet Rescue, you should carefully review the following guidelines, in addition to the Foster Agreement you will be asked to sign.
1) Never turn over a foster to someone who claims it is his/her lost pet without irrefutable proof, and even then, the circumstances of the pet’s loss must be carefully evaluated before any action is taken! This person could be mistaken, or he/she could be deliberately trying to mislead you. The animal could have been removed from his/her former home for all kinds of reasons. The claimant could well have mistreated the animal. Immediately report such claims to Elena at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will investigate.
2) Before you take in a foster animal, ask about the animal's breed, age, gender, temperament, behavior, and why he/she is in need of adoption. Find out to the best of your ability if he/she is a stray, from a shelter, a private give-up, a victim of abuse or neglect, etc. Share any applications you might get on your own with the foster coordinator or the contact person for the dog. Remember that not every prospective adopter is approved, and sometimes other applications may be pending. Some animals are more popular than others and can have multiple applications. Others must wait for that special someone. But they all find homes, sooner or later, if we work together.
3) If you find prospective adopters for your foster on your own, please make them aware of the application process, as well as the CPR requirements and adoption donation. CPR screens applicants very carefully. First, the written application is evaluated. Then a veterinary check is made for all animals the prospective adopter owns or has owned. If the application and vet check are good, a home visit is scheduled. If the adoption is finally approved, a contract is signed, and an adoption fee is paid by the adopters.
4) Be careful what you tell potential adopters. Avoid giving advice and criticizing. Also avoid answering questions with absolutes, and never answer questions you are not sure about. Do not mislead inquirers. Ask for assistance when you don't know something. Tell inquirers you need to check and will get back to them as soon as possible. Always recommend that potential adopters do as much reading about animals and adoptions and about their breed, if applicable. Urge them to sign up for obedience training with a reputable trainer.
5) If you have any hesitations, peculiar feelings or "bad vibes" about the adoption or any of the people involved in the adoption of your foster animal – like the family seems great, except for the angry look on the father's face – do not allow the adoption to go forward! Say that the final decision is not yours to make, and a CPR representative will get back to them as soon as possible. You do not have to take the heat for your instincts, but it is best to go with them. Try to determine what is giving you pause or making you wary, and take note of it.
6) Be very familiar with the regulations and policies of CPR. Most of all, remember that no one can be approved until their application is deemed acceptable, the vet check is satisfactory, and a home visit is completed – in that order. If the adopters are approved, the adoption contract must be signed – by all the adopter(s) and a CPR representative – with all information carefully filled out and checked by you. If any there are particular issues to be disclosed about the animal – like health or temperament concerns, or specific vetting arrangements agreed to take place after the adoption – an Addendum signed by all parties involved must accompany the Adoption Contract. Adopters must pay the non-refundable fee to CPR either before taking possession or upon taking possession of the animal. Do not turn any animal over without the signed paperwork and appropriate fee in hand.
7) Introduce the new animal to your own pet(s), if you have any, outside on neutral territory. Once inside, it is best to situate the foster animal in a crate at first, and introduce him/her gradually to other household members. Do not try to make the foster an immediate part of your family. Let him/her settle into the new place, and help him/her learn the rules of the house as soon as possible. Never let the foster take over and place your own animals at risk or under stress.
8) Use a harness or choke collar to walk a foster so he/she cannot slip from the collar and run off. A dog can easily slip out of a flat collar, which should be worn for identification purposes only. The harness should be used only for walking and training and should be removed after the session.
9) Whenever you transport an animal, make certain you have him/her on a leash, with a secure collar. No prong collars, please! Confine all animals being transported in vehicles either with harnesses or in crates. This may not seem like the best choice for the animals, but it is essential for your safety and theirs. Accidents can and do happen when animals are loose in the car. People and animals can and do die.
10) Fosters may be asked to participate in transporting animals or assisting in prospective adopter home visits. A CPR person will also be going with to the home visits.
11) If your foster animal becomes ill or gets hurt, contact the Foster Coordinator immediately. CPR covers routine medical expenses, but the Foster Coordinator must authorize treatments and medications for anything beyond the norm – before they are administered. The Foster Coordinator must also approve the veterinarian caring for the animal. In emergency cases, when every moment could mean the difference between life and death, do not hesitate to call the Foster Coordinator and take the animal to a vet immediately or to an emergency clinic if something happens after regular vet hours. Contact the Foster Coordinator as soon as possible, but do not wait to take care of the animal. We will work out emergency expenses. Know where your closest vet and emergency centers are located before you foster. Keep the numbers handy and accessible. The time to search is not when you are holding a sick or injured animal in your arms.
12) Providing a safe and loving temporary home.This means keeping the foster pet(s) indoors at all times, pet-proofing your home, and taking other reasonable precautions to provide a safe and healthy environment for your foster pet(s).
13) CPR will provide food and often has other supplies such as carriers, leashes, toys, grooming supplies, chewys, treats, litter boxes, and scratching boards on hand. If you decided to purchase other supplies for your foster without approval first that will be considered a donation and not reimbursed. If you need additional supplies just ask and we can probably get the item at a discount (being a non profit) or already have the supply in storage.
14) Keeping the “new” foster pet(s) separate from resident pets for 10 days as a precaution to protect your pet(s) from potentially contagious diseases. “New” refers to pets that CPR has not yet quarantined. If your foster(s) has already been in CPR’s care for longer than 10 days and appears healthy, you will not need to quarantine the foster in your home. After quarantine, if the foster is healthy, foster parents should integrate the foster(s) with family pets for socialization purposes. CPR will advise you on whether pet(s) should be kept separate from or integrated with resident pets depending on their age, health, socialization needs, and your home environment.
15) Monitoring the pet's health, seeking approval from CPR regarding follow up vet care, and recording all medications and health issues. All authorized medical expenses are covered by CPR. All foster(s) are examined by a vet prior to being placed in foster homes. At a minimum, they are tested, given age appropriate shots, dewormed, and will be spayed/neutered (if age appropriate and healthy). It is common for foster(s) to need follow up vet care.
16) Monitoring the foster’s behavior and discussing any issues with CPR. We work very closely with foster families who are fostering shy or scared pets (especially feral kittens or high energy puppies).
17) Following CPR’s adoption policies and actively facilitating the foster’s adoption (e.g., providing a write up and helping to get photos for the web site, responding to pre-screened adoption inquiries about the foster(s), and making the foster(s) available for prospective adopters to meet at adoption events.
Foster parents and families form the backbone of the work we do. We cannot exist as a rescue if people are not willing to bring needy animals into their homes while we search for permanent homes for them. Fosters have my undying gratitude and my deepest respect and admiration. There are never enough foster homes to go around, so each is precious to CPR and the animals we are trying to save.