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Foster FAQ

What is a foster parent?

A foster parent is someone who is willing to provide a short-term home to cats, dogs, puppies, or kittens in need of care before going up for adoption at ARF. 

Why are pet foster parents needed?

ARF rescues animals from overcrowded public shelters. Puppies and kittens need foster homes until they are old/big enough for surgery and adoption. Or, an animal may come down with an illness and a foster home is needed to allow them time to recover in a warm, loving environment. ARF also occasionally needs foster homes to provide additional socialization, recovery from surgeries, and to give animals who are stressed a break from the shelter environment.

How can I volunteer to become a foster parent?

Potential foster families are required to attend a free Intro to Foster Orientation, held each month at ARF's headquarters. This class goes over ARF's policies and procedures, and outlines housing protocols and foster timelines. Once you attend the presentation, you can complete the application to become a foster parent.

Who should foster a pet?

Given time and dedication, anyone can become a foster parent. When considering becoming a foster parent, it is important to take into account your schedule, your home environment, and your willingness to give a portion of your free time to your foster animal. If you have a full-time job, fostering puppies might not be for you, as they need to be let out and fed every few hours. However, an adult dog could be left crated for a portion of the day, which could work for someone with a full-time schedule. Kittens also tend to be less involved, so they could be ideal for someone who works full-time, providing they are kept in a safe room with everything they need and given a lot of attention and care when you are home.

How long is the foster commitment?

The foster supervisor will let you know what the expected timeframe will be. Most puppies and kittens need fostering until they are old/big enough to be spayed or neutered, which for most is at eight weeks and two pounds. Adult dogs and cats recovering from an illness can return when they are healthy (usually after a week on antibiotics). If an animal is recovering from orthopedic or dental surgery, the foster timeline can be anywhere from two to eight weeks. 

What does it cost to foster a pet?

ARF provides the basic supplies you will need to foster an animal: crate, litter, toys, food, and blankets. All of the animal's medical needs are handled by ARF's clinic. X-pens and potty pads may be available upon request. 

Many foster parents invest in supplies that can be used in the home through many fosters after a thorough cleaning such as cat trees, exercise pens, baby gates, Kongs, etc. Most foster parents provude additional treats or special toys for fosters to enjoy in their home. 

What kind of support will I get?

ARF's foster supervisor is available to answer questions, schedule routine clinic appointments, and offer support. There is also a hotline to answer behavior-related questions, a full-service clinic for medical-related questions, and an emergency line for after-hours emergencies.

If I foster a pet, will I be able to take vacation?

ARF asks that you plan on being home for your animal's entire foster timeline. If you need to leave town, it will be arranged for the animal to come back to ARF or go into temporary foster, but ample notice is needed to make those arrangements. Please do not engage pet sitters, as they have not gone through ARF's foster orientation and do not know ARF protocols.

I already have a pet. Can I still foster?

Absolutely! ARF asks that you initially keep your foster animal separate from your own for seven days to allow foster animals time to settle in and to prevent any possible spread of illness. After this time, allowing supervised interactions with your own pets is both fine and encouraged.

Can I adopt the animal I foster?

ARF understands the connection foster families have with an animal in their home can be incredibly strong, and some form a bond that will last a lifetime. ARF generally gives the first adoption opportunity to foster families when their foster animal becomes available for adoption. If you are an ARF family who would like to adopt your foster animal, please contact [email protected] for more information and to make arrangements. All standard adoption criteria apply.

I am younger than 18 years old. Can I foster a pet?

Yes, with parental approval. Both you and your parent will need to attend an Intro to Foster Orientation, and your parent will need to fill out the paperwork, since they will ultimately be responsible for the care of the foster animal. 

What happens after I fill out a Foster Application?

Once your application is reviewed, you will be entered into ARF's database and will begin receiving foster request emails. To begin fostering, reply to the foster request, and ARF will work with you to match the best animal for your home.

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