Thoughts on Fostering- Choosing the Right Rescue

Each of our previous fosters were from different rescue organizations. Laynie, our first, was from the Bully Underground Rescue Network (BURN). Anna, our second, was with Almost Home Rescue. After working with these two very different organizations, I have learned a lot about my feelings on rescue policies and the characteristics I value in an organization to foster with. Here are a few things that are important to me, and what I think a potential foster should look into before they choose a rescue to work with:

  1. Adoption policy, more specifically how the rescue handles home visits and meet and greets. Does the rescue REQUIRE meet and greets with the dog before the adopter is approved? Do they do a general ‘approval’ or are the applicants matched with dogs? Is a home visit mandatory? Do they check references and call the adopter’s vet for a reference?
  2. The rescue’s policy on the foster family’s involvement. How does the rescue handle the foster parent’s opinion on where the dog should be placed? Is the foster family involved in the home visit and/or meet and greet? Make sure you choose a rescue that requires a level of involvement of its fosters that you are comfortable with. If you want to be involved in the meet and greets and home visits, and want your opinion to count, make sure you ask about it. If you purely want to be a home for the dog, and would like the rescue to handle all the adoption details, make sure you know this ahead of time as well.
  3. Adoption events. Does the rescue actively participate in adoption events to get the dogs out in the public? What other ways to they advertise their adoptable pups? The more visibility the dogs have, the better of a chance they have to get adopted.
  4. Where the dogs come from. Are they pulled from local shelters? Are they owner surrenders? Are they brought up from another region? Make sure you align yourself with a rescue that mirrors the importance you put on where the dogs are rescued from.
  5. Their policy/history with adopting out ‘bully breeds.’ What is their policy about accepting pitties into the rescue? As ‘bully breed’ advocates, this particular one was important to us. But, it could really be any breed, so be sure to look into whether the rescue has restrictions about accepting certain breeds.
  6. Resources for fosters. How does the rescue handle the more ‘difficult’ dogs to place? Do they offer training and support for foster families with dogs that might have some training ‘issues’? Will the rescue cover the cost of a trainer, dog walker, etc.?
  7. Where they are based out of. Are they local? Is it a shelter, or a network of fosters? Generally the rescue has resources that are located around wherever they are located. Make sure it is not too far from your location so you have access. Also, if the rescue is located in a different area than you are, make sure you are willing to drive if you are involved with home visits, as the applicants might be a distance away from your home.

These are just a few things that we have discovered are important to us when fostering. I have purposefully left out our views on each topic, as I don’t want to insult either of the great rescues we have partnered with. It is just important for you, as a foster, to figure out what your values are and find an organization that supports those same values. Fostering is a challenge no matter what, so the last thing you want is to feel unsupported! But, in the end, placing a dog in a perfect forever home is the best reward and the reason why we will continue to open our hearts and home to dogs in need.

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Laynie enjoying a sunny day on the deck.

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Anna also enjoying a sunny day on the deck, before her deck privileges were revoked because she jumped the gate!

If you have fostered before, are there things that you find important that I should add to my list? Did you know what was important to you right from the beginning, or have you discovered them through experience, or both?

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8 thoughts on “Thoughts on Fostering- Choosing the Right Rescue

  1. Great post, there’s a lot to think about before you start fostering! The only things I might add would be to find out what their policies are on vet visits and medications – do they cover the cost (emergency and/or routine visists)? Do you have to go to their preferred vet? Will they help with transport to and from vet visits if you aren’t able to? Do they provide basic preventative medication (monthly flea/tick/heartworm)?

    Also, supplies in general – what does the rescue provide, vs. what do they expect the foster to cover the cost of? Will they help you with boarding or find a temporary foster home for your pup to stay if you go out of town?

      • I agree with Laura on how much (if any) your group will pay for medical expenses. I was forced to raise nearly $800 on my own for my first foster because my rescue group decided Ginger was “too old” for them to pay for her chronic ear infections. 😦

  2. What are their requirements to foster and what do they cover? I see these questions a lot when our local shelter or the rescue we work with post dogs in need of foster homes. Ours covers medical care (vet’s office with an adoption program), along with food if needed. They’ve also loaned us crates for dogs that needed them.

  3. All great things to consider. I volunteer with two different-very different-organizations but as yet haven’t fostered. I’ve transported quite a bit and have had “fosters for a night” when they’ve stayed over, but nothing more yet. When I’m able to make the foster commitment, I will definitely want to use this as a guideline.

  4. I think you’re right on. The first and only (so far) rescue I fostered for was seriously lacking in their foster orientation. It just took a quick interview and they sent me home with a puppy. I will definitely be looking for a rescue that has more of a “process” with new fosters. I mean, I know I look trust-worthy, but not even checking references or doing a home visit? That was seriously negligent in my opinion now. At the time of course, I was just excited to be bringing home my first foster dog. I think rescues should also invest some time in training their fosters on what to ask potential adopters, what to look out for and how to handle it when you are unsure if a family is right. As a first-time foster, I was so unsure every step of the way and could’ve used a lot more guidance and support.

  5. I was super fresh when I started fostering: a college student who wasn’t ready for a forever dog but missed taking care of/having a dog around. I ended up lucking out without much research with One Tail. They were a tiny rescue when I started fostering and have blossomed so much in the past few years. They are amazing about everything you listed including providing foster homes with EVERYTHING they need: food, toys, treats, vet care, daycare if fosters work a lot, boarding options (daycare or private depending on dog’s friendliness), and training as well. Goodness I miss them 😦

  6. We picked our group to foster with based on the fact that we had adopted our Braylon from the rescue and the director had been so helpful in having us transition with her. I thought she was such a wonderful part of ensuring Braylon adjusted in our home that she’d be a great person to foster for. We didn’t choose based on the rescue–who chose because we loved her and she became our friend! In the time we fostered she even changed which rescue she worked under and that ended up being a very positive change.
    If I were to move or for some reason change rescues I know I’d have different qualifications and would be more picky even though we are happy now.
    We adopted a pittie from her and she prefers bully breeds herself (having 5 pits of her own currently) so that was of course a plus. Prior to adopting Braylon we’d looked into a rescue and declined because they flat out didn’t work with pits and I couldn’t foster for a group that that theoretically wouldn’t have given my babies a chance.
    I like the dogs to get out at events and I’d rather not be involved in the adoption process beyond giving her my general opinion if I meet the family. I know she takes into consideration what I think! She doesn’t like placing bully females together but she did with one of my fosters because of the information I gave her as to what a submissive dog our foster was. I know she respects my opinion as a friend so that’s important to me. I wish they did home visits more often but I know she is very good at making good long-term matches overall and she has 20+ years of experience so that’s important to me, too.

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