Q: How do I become a foster?
A: Fostering begins with completing a foster application. The foster coordinator will review your application and then contact you to discuss your interest in fostering and explain the program to you.
Q: Can I foster if I work full time?
A: Yes. Most of our foster parents work full time but if you away from home for long hours, fostering young puppies and kittens may not be the best fit for you. But we have plenty of other animals that would be excellent foster opportunitities. Older puppies, dogs, kittens and cats that don't require as much attention as the young ones.
Q: How often do I need to feed and care for the foster animals in my home?
A: It depends on their age and if they have a mom. Here’s a general guide of the minimum requirements:
- Adult cat, no kittens: check and care for her every 16 hours.
- Kittens with moms: check and care for them every 12 hours.
- Adult dog or Puppies with mom: check and care for them every 9 hours.
- Kittens or puppies > 4 wks old, w/o moms, able to eat on their own: check and care for them every 8-9 hrs.
- Kittens or puppies 3- 4 weeks old, without moms, able to eat some on their own, require supplemental bottle feedings: check and care for them every 6-8 hours.
- Kittens or puppies < 3 wks old, w/o moms, require bottle-feeding: check and care for them every 4-6 hrs.
Q: Will it cost me money to foster?
A: In general we do rely upon our fosters to provide for their foster pets, but we also try to help provide supplies when we can and when the Shelter has extra. We do expect you to provide non-tip food bowls and a litterbox, litter scoop, and litter (if fostering felines). This will run about $20. You may have to buy food if the shelter doesn’t have any to spare. We usually have plenty of extra crates, carriers and cages we can lend you. If you're fostering puppies or dogs, you should have at least one doggie playpen or baby gate to assist you in keeping your foster puppies separate from your own pets. We hope to have the funds some day to have all supplies and food provided, but for now, there are small out-of-pocket costs to fostering. This is an excellent thing to discuss with our Foster Coordinator, Debbie Hines.
Q: What happens if my foster animal(s) becomes ill?
A: You should refer to the Foster Care Handbook for detailed information but in general if a foster animal should begin to show symptoms of illness while in your care please follow these procedures so that your animal will receive the care it needs:
- Call our Cat Foster Care Coordinator, Debbie Hines at 304-482-0330 as soon as you notice any symptoms. Don't delay!
- Please be prepared to provide information including the animal’s name, age, your name, and the symptoms of illness.
- We strongly recommend that you call the shelter before you drop in at the shelter with your animal. That way we can ensure someone is available to help you.
Reminder: If you choose to take the animal to a private veterinarian, please be aware that the HSOP may be unable to reimburse you for any charges you may incur. Due to the limited funds of the foster care program, emergency clinic or private veterinary services may only be reimbursed under unusual circumstances, and only with prior approval from the Foster Coordinator, Debbie Hines or our Executive Director.
Q: Will I end up adopting my foster animals?
A: Hopefully not. It does happen, but ideally, we want our foster homes to be just that – temporary foster homes. We want you to foster repeatedly since our greatest need is for reliable, trained foster homes.
Q: How much time does it take to foster?
A: It depends on what you are fostering. For every foster case, you will need to make at least three trips to the shelter: one to pick up the animal(s), one to have the animal(s) vaccinated, and another trip to return the animal(s) to the Shelter either to be adopted or go to a rescue.. Foster chores and animal socialization will take 20 minutes to an hour a day, depending if you are fostering dogs, kittens, etc., and how large of a litter you have.
Q: How long will I foster?
A: Every case is different. Foster care can take anywhere from 1 week to 2 months, depending on the reason for fostering. The foster parent decides upon a time commitment. For example, if you are available for two weeks, you will only have the animal for two weeks. However there may be times when you are asked to keep a foster animal longer than the initial estimated time. Any amount of time that you can volunteer is helping an animal and us.
Q: Can I pick the animals I want to foster?
A: Yes and No. You can specify what type of animal you are willing to foster, dog or cat, puppies or kittens, sick or injured. It’s your choice. But, you cannot pick animals from the shelter holding area. The shelter staff and foster coordinator will choose animals based on health, temperament, breed, rescue status and foster home availability. The foster coordinator will contact our fosters when we have animals that need temporary foster care. She will also contact you when we have animals that she knows would be a good match for you.
Q: Can I take foster animals to other peoples’ homes, to school, etc?
A: Generally, no. Unvaccinated foster puppies and kittens may not leave the foster home (e.g.no walks in the park, visits to school, work, etc) and must be kept completely separate (no nose-to-nose contact) as much as possible from permanent animals of the same species in the foster home. Puppies under 8 weeks of age do not need to potty outside. You may potty older puppies in your yard, preferably an area your dogs cannot reach. Foster animals that have received their full series of vaccines may leave the home and be treated like any other animal in your home.
Q: Where should I put foster animals while they are in my home?
A: You must confine them. Everyone’s home has a different set up, but the home must have a spare room (bathrooms and basements are ok) dedicated to the foster animals during their stay. Remember no nose-to-nose contact between foster kitties and your cats or foster pooches and your dogs. This is especially important for the first 2 weeks they are in your home in case they are carrying a disease that doesn’t show itself until after they are placed in foster care.
Q: Why do my animals need to be vaccinated if the foster animals are kept separate?
A: This requirement is primarily for the safety of your own animal(s). Foster animals come from the street and unknown conditions. They may break with serious diseases after they are placed in foster care. The shelter will not be able to treat or care for your permanent animal should he/ she become sick from a foster animal. All felines and canines in the home must receive annual vaccinations if you want to foster.
Q: My vet says my cats only need to be vaccinated every three years because they are indoor cats. Why do you require annual vaccinations?
A: Tell your vet you plan to foster animals with unknown medical history. Most vets will then treat your cat the same as they would if your cat went outdoors and was exposed to more germs. If your vet refuses or your cat has vaccine reactions, you may be approved to foster canines, but not felines.
Q: What else will be expected of me?
A: Foster homes must follow the instructions of the shelter vet, make and keep appointments for check ups, vaccinations and return of foster animals. Spend time playing with and socializing your foster animals. Have an adult in charge of the animal care, although children are welcome to help, especially with the socialization. Contact the foster coordinator if you have any questions or concerns.