To Foster or not to Foster?

Your social media accounts are flooding your feed with story after story of last chance shelter pup severely in need of rescue... or else. There's this really immense pressure on animal lovers to help, but rescues fill up quickly and sometimes there's just not enough room. How do you help? Can you help? What issues arise?

Fostering is an excellent way to make a difference without investing in a long term commitment. Foster homes provide temporary shelter for a dog or cat that may otherwise be stuck in a kennel, cage... or worse. Fostering is not for everyone, but it was definitely for me. I wanted to share some of my foster stories, how they began and how rewarding they were.

The first thing I had to consider was, are MY dogs friendly enough. I have a couple pitty mutts (of course), and I really needed to make sure that they wouldn't hurt any new animal that came into the home. Based on their reaction to squirrels, I quickly ruled out fostering cats.

The next thought as, what if the new dog hurts MY pets? If your fostering directly for an animal shelter or care and control, this part can be tricky. Make sure you talk to the staff and see if the animal that needs temporary homing is:

1) animal friendly (if you already have pets)

2) injured or requires medications (know what your committing to!)

3) good with children , cats, or any other things that are already in your home

4) exhibits any exceptional behavioral problems or concerns (teething puppies, food aggression etc)

Remember that fostering is a commitment that can typically take up to three months; Take it seriously and mean it, because the spot that opens up in the pound will be filled quickly

The second fostering option is a little easier; fostering for a rescue. Many rescues are always desperate for foster homes, and will pick up, drop off, cover medical expenses and do a meet and greet prior to drop off if you already have kids or animals and you want to make sure everything will be copacetic.

I went the foster for a rescue rout, although one of my fosters was actually just a stray found tied to a tree in the neighborhood next door. I have fostered TONS of dogs at this point, so Ill share my experiences with the last 3.

1) Canella

Canella (Spanish for cinnamon) was a brown-grey pittbull puppy that my neighbor found wandering. He couldn't care for it (he already had 4 dogs) and asked if I could step in. Canella was a very sweet pup who ran out of the house the second the door cracked an inch, and peed all.the.time. She was incredibly sweet and ravenously hungry, with a crooked little lightening bolt shaped break in her tail. The break had long since healed, but the rest of her was sweet as pie. She was one of my fastest adoptions After making her a twitter page and posting a few videos, a really nice family who lived in Broward County (never forget that breed specific legislation exists in Miami... even though its #Bull-Pitt). You don't want to send a dog off with a family just to have to separate them later because of the laws) adopted her. The guy ran a hotel and had 3 kids- which was a great fit because Canella was high energy.

2) Penny-Lane

Penny Lane was a foster through a rescue I work with often 'no paw left behind'. Penny was a tiny little daschound mix with a cute brindle coat. She was also almost my first "foster-fail"; she was so timid and my big dogs just toyed with her so sweetly. I was able to adopt her out by sheer dumb luck and lots of word of mouth. I was walking my two pits and Penny-Lane one day, and a neighbor had not met before saw me and laughed. "Which one doesn't belong?" he asked eyeing little 5 pound penny between my two 60 pound pups. "Shes a foster" I replied, and it turned out that he and his partner were looking for a second dog for their brood. They already had one dog, so we did an introduction and it went over really well. I let the rescue know right away that I had a couple interested (remember, while your trying to adopt out a foster, the rescue is too- dont commit anything to anyone before making sure that dog is still available). The rescue handled the paperwork, did the home-check and handled the hand-off. But I miss that little dog to this day. I think thats the hardest part of fostering; letting go.

3) Baby Ruth- now named Rainbow

Rainbow also came to me through no paws left behind, right after Penny Lane left. Rainbow was a handful right after Penny-Lane. She was a different, much furrier breed and had a lot of energy. I had Rainbow for about 2 weeks. I took her to the dog park to spread the word, and posted lots of picture of her on my Facebook page. An acquaintance from a few years back private messaged me, telling me her friends were looking and liked Rainbows pictures. One week later I was dropping her off to their house :) This is one of my favorite fosters, because the new owners and I got along well, became Facebook friends, and now I get to see updates all the time! Shes gotten HUGE and is a little swimmer. Its nice to see how happy an animal you have helped is.

Long and short of it, fostering is stressful at first, but the rewards far outweigh the worries. I have adored being a part of so many animals lives, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to help. I have my two dogs, and that's enough for me. But fostering now and again allows me to be in the lives of lots of animals, and for me, there's noting better.

To learn more about fostering, or to become a Foster for POPO Pitbulls, Inc, please email me at nikki@popopitbulls.org. Ill send you an application, learn about your needs and wants and we can work together to help more pups get into furever homes!

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