Fostering dogs (or cats) is one of the best ways you can be a lifesaver for pets in need. But when it comes to fostering there are many misconceptions and myths about fostering dogs.
If you don’t follow me on Instagram (and you should!) you are missing out on all things foster dogs. Fostering dogs has become a huge part of my life over the last couple of years. These dogs and the other people I volunteer with have taught me so much. Not just about raising dogs but also about being a more giving person and accepting of faults. Mine and others.
Working or volunteering in animal rescue is eye-opening. We see the best and worst side of humans. Fortunately, the good FAR outweighs the bad and gives me hope for humanity on even the worst days.
Fostering continues to be a learning experience with each dog we bring into our home. And some of our friends and family say the CRAZIEST things about fostering. We need clear up this up.
Let’s start with the basics.
What does it mean to foster a dog?
Fostering entails opening your home and heart to a dog in need. There should be no cost to you other than your time. The rescue should cover all the cost for food and vet care. While you provide a safe and loving home for the foster dog until a FURever home is found. You may be asked to promote the dog on social media, meet and assess potential adopters or take the pup to adoption events. Every dog you foster is a life saved!
It seems pretty simple, why don’t more people do it? There are so many myths about fostering dogs so let’s break them down and get your dog fostering questions answered!
Myth #1 Stray Dogs Are Dangerous, Are Broken or Have Issues
Truth Stray and shelter dogs are like any dog you might buy from a breeder or pet store. Some have issues, and some don’t. One of MY biggest misconceptions about fostering dogs was that these were all strays or seized by animal control.
Wow was I wrong! There are many life circumstances why families choose to surrender their pets. Often, going into long-term care or an unexpected death of the owner. Many families in these situations reach out to foster organizations to ensure these great dogs don’t end up in overcrowded shelters.
A reputable animal rescue organization should never ask you take in a dog you can’t handle and should provide you with tools and trainers for the more complicated cases. The truth is that the vast majority of these dogs just need love. Just like us humans!
Myth #2 My Other Pets Won’t Like It
Truth You know your dog best. But most dogs and cats are able to live with a new friend. All new dogs to the home need a proper introduction and many animal welfare organizations recommend a decompression period to ensure any new dogs coming into your home integrate easily and with minimal fuss.
Myth #3 I Don’t Have Enough Room or A Big Yard
Truth Dogs come in different shapes and sizes. Every dog has a different energy level and different needs. For many dogs, daily walks is plenty of exercise. You don’t need a huge fenced in yard to be a good dog foster parent.
Your rescue should work with you to place a dog that fits your lifestyle.
Maybe you live an apartment with a weight limit, but you are a big dog person. Perfect, you won’t foster fail. And little dogs need love too!
Myth #4 Fostering Dogs is Too Expensive
Truth Any reputable rescue should cover the cost of all vet care, heartworm prevention, food and other needs of the dog. I would be lying if I said I never spent ANY money on my foster dogs. But they deserved that special treat…
I feel very strongly that fostering is a great option when finances are tight. You get the companionship of an awesome dog without the cost of dog ownership. This is an especially great option when you are just starting adult life and don’t have a huge nest egg saved up. Owning a dog can be pricey.
Luckily other people and businesses donate or provide grants to rescue organizations. You just need to donate your time and home to a dog in need.
Myth #5 I am not a professional (i.e. qualified)
Truth Are you a reasonably responsible human being with a little love to give? Yep. You are likely qualified.
I was incredibly nervous, despite being an experienced dog owner. But it really is just like dog sitting for your next-door neighbor.
I have seen volunteers new to dog ownership develop their own skills and find amazing homes for their foster dogs. Then take on more difficult cases as they grow. Everyone has a different starting point.
I have also seen people foster before adopting and then decide long-term dog ownership is not for them. And you know what? That is OK! Better to know before you make a long-term commitment.
There is no such thing as being “qualified” to be a foster dog parent. There is only being responsible and kind enough. Don’t discount your capabilities!
Myth #6 I Travel Too Much
Truth Likely not! Fostering dogs is a great way to be a dog parent without a long-term commitment. Shelters and rescues know you go on vacation and have plans in place to cover the dog’s needs.
Maybe you are snowbird traveling South in the Winter, which means you can foster only half the year. That is okay! Most rescues would love to have the help even if it isn’t 100% of the time.
If you travel frequently for work, consider being a fill-in foster parent when you are home. This is a great way to help shelter dogs. Often foster dogs need a place to crash for a night or two or while their foster family is on vacation. You can greatly help ease the burden on the rescue just by being a fill in.
Myth #7 I Will Get Stuck with A Dog I Don’t Want
Truth No. Ok, the answer should be no. Any rescue you work with should provide you with support and structure for success. Be sure that you ask questions during the foster application process on how dogs are placed.
A coordinator from the rescue should reach out to you with available dogs and you can say yes or no. I have said no more times than I can count. I say no to pregnant mamas, puppies or dogs over 40 pounds. Because that is what fits for us. The rescue wants me to be successful so they can save more dogs.
And sometimes that cute little dog who has never made a peep suddenly start barking 8 hours a day and you live in an apartment. It happens, and a foster swap occurs. It is just everyday stuff for rescue coordinators.
No one ever forces you to take a dog you don’t want! And if you feel that way there are a million other rescues who would love to have you join them!
Myth # 8 We Would Keep Them All or It’s Too Hard to Let Them Go
Truth They call it a foster fail for a reason. The reality is many fosters do end up adopting their foster dog. Many people chose to foster first with the sole purpose of foster failing when they find “the one”.
I started with that intention, I wanted to make sure the second dog we brought home was the perfect fit for our dog Fritz. But I fell in love with fostering dogs. The satisfaction of seeing them go to a great home. When their new parents send me updates and they look beyond happy- that is the best feeling!
Harvard Health, authors noted that volunteers benefit from something they call the “happiness effect.” It turns out that weekly volunteering leads to happiness levels comparable to a life-changing salary boost. This way off sets any sad feeling I get when a foster leaves.
There is one side of this people don’t like to talk about. Sometimes you are happy to see the foster dog go. You loved them, they were great, but they weren’t for your family. This doesn’t make you a bad person! You saved a life. Not every dog you save is going to be a dog you would choose to adopt otherwise. And that is okay!
For example, we fostered a lab mix last year. He was great, super easy and we never had a single issue with him. The problem- he was kind of boring. Whaaaat! Yep, he just wasn’t Mr. Personality. He went to a great a family where ease of care was the top priority. And I was happy to be back to just one dog for a bit.
Now that we debunked the top 8 dog fostering myths let’s talk about the number one reason why you should consider fostering dogs.
If Not You, Then Who?
There are many dog lovers out there, but the reality is most of them aren’t willing to foster. I encourage you to give a try. Maybe the final myth is that there are already plenty of people who foster.
And the reality is there is not. Approximately 1.5 MILLION shelter animals are euthanized each year in the United States according to the ASPCA. Every small rescue makes a dent in this number.
If you live in the Central Ohio area I recommend checking out RESCUEDohio. Admittedly I am a little bias, but they are a fabulous all-volunteer all-foster dog rescue group and I am honored that they let me hang out with them.
If you’re more of a cat person and live in Central Ohio, check out Colony Cats.
You can follow my foster dogs in my highlights on Instagram. And yes all the photos in the post are of my past foster pups!
If you are looking for a special treat for your own pup or your foster I recommend trying one of our favorite dog treat recipes!
Still have Questions about our Dog Fostering Experience?
Leave us a comment and we will do our best to answer your questions!