So, you have thought about helping out a dog out in need for a while and you are ready to take the plunge and you are wondering what your options are. Should you foster, foster to adopt or adopt? What will the application process be and what will the shelters do for you? This article gives you all the information you will need to know before embarking on the exciting journey of helping out a pooch in need!
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Fostering a dog means taking care of a dog in your home as if the dog were your own. You provide the safe care and love for the dog until a permanent home can be found. This is an ideal situation for anyone who is not in a position to have a dog of their own for life, but still wants the companionship of a pet, and wants to help a dog in the short term. If dogs in from shelters can have safe temporary homes and do not need to be boarded, it not only saves that dog but can allow room for another dog to potentially be saved.
Shelters will usually provide the food, grooming and vet care for the dog until a permanent home can be found. They will request that the dog is made available (notice will always be given and transport arranged) for adoption events and meeting pre-approved adopters.
This means you have applied and been approved to adopt and you are interested in adopting that particular dog. It is basically a “trial period”, usually not to exceed 2 weeks (you will know within 2 weeks if that is the right dog for you or not, limiting the decision time to a maximum 2 week time period so as to not ruin the chances of that dog being available to another great forever home). Most dogs have numerous applications on each of them, and of course, rescue shelters always choose the best match from within the pool of potential adopters.
Most people who choose to take this approach know within the first week if that is the best match for them and proceed with the adoption…. if it takes longer than 2 weeks to make that decision… generally speaking .. that particular dog may not be the best match for you. You will need to make a decision to adopt or not adopt at the end of the two week period, and either proceed with adoption or return the dog to the rescue to be made available for another adopter. Staff from shelters will check in with you during that “probation period” to make sure things are going smoothly. 96% of the adopters who take this approach, land up adopting the dog they choose.
This means you have applied and been approved to adopt a dog and you know you are going to make this union work! You are committed to doing what it takes to make this adoption successful and have this dog in your life & family forever. To be honest, most people choose to go the foster to adopt route and land up adopting the dog within the first 4 – 7 days. Probably only 4% of adopters take the straight adopt route. Shelters love the people who have the confidence and commitment to go full steam ahead and adopt outright!
Once a decision has been made to adopt the dog, an adoption contract, and relative paperwork will be drawn up and your adoption donation will be required at this time to finalize the adoption.
Just to remind anyone interested in any of fostering and adopting dogs; rescue centers will have a process that needs be followed prior to meeting any of our dogs. The first step will be an application after which you will generally be preapproved and then introduced to the dogs. There are also some basic rules and guidelines that rescue centers will take into consideration:
1. Some will not adopt to families with children under the age of 10 years of age for reasons of safety for the children.. sometimes there is no history on many of the dogs, and while most would be fine with younger kids, centers do not want to put children at risk.
2. If you live in a house, a secure fenced yard is often mandatory. A fence lying on the ground or in need of repair can hardly be considered “secure”.
3. You must give thought to “age appropriateness”.. ie. it may not be appropriate to consider placing a 2-year-old dog with an 80-year-old adopter…
4. If you work and travel longer days and have “no back up plan” for the dog to be able to get a potty break during the day that can be confirmed (ie. day care, dog walker, friend, relative to stop by), then you shouldn’t make application to foster or adopt a rescue dog… I am sure most of you certainly cannot go a full 8-10 + hour day without a bathroom break, so how could you possibly expect a dog to do so?
5. Although there is nothing wrong with “crate training” a dog.. in fact, most dogs love having a place of safe haven… but many see crate training dogs for extended periods of time unacceptable.
6. Centers usually prefer to adopt locally, however, some exceptions are made… If they have a means of getting a home visit done with a volunteer in the out of location area, and your application is exceptional, of course, they will do our very best to make it happen. If anything did not seem ok to me, they would never be leaving a dog if they had any reservations, or if their “gut instinct” led them to believe things were not all ok, regardless of how far they had traveled.
7. If you have ever surrendered a dog for any “unreasonable” or “unthinkable” reason, please do not apply to adopt another dog as your application will likely be declined.
Once a rescue center has considered you as an adopter (from reviewing your application) you will be contacted for an interview to discuss the dogs that may be of interest to you and if that goes fine, they will arrange a home visit and reference check, and only at that time will they make arrangements to meet the dog/dogs you are interested in.
So now you have all of the information, it’s up to you. It is so important to be sure that this is the right thing for you to avoid a dog ending up back in a shelter. Think carefully about which option would be best for you and your family and get down to that rescue center! Good luck with your new venture.
When not writing about himself in the third person, Andy spends many an hour walking his mischievous, mixed breed rescue Mr Wox, aka Soxy Woxy. A leading authority on all dog-related topics, Andy is highly respected, deeply appreciated and widely admired.