Foster A Pet
You may have only seen CAWS cats and dogs at PetSmart or at other adoption events. Many folks ask:
Where are these animals the rest of the time?
CAWS does not have a shelter facility - all CAWS animals waiting for adoption are in foster homes. The number of animals we can help find new homes for is closely linked to how many CAWS foster homes are available.
What is a foster home?
These homes provide temporary shelter and care for animals in our adoption program. Foster homes come in all types - families, couples, people living alone. Most of them already have pets of their own. Some have large homes, some have quite small homes. But all of them have decided to make room for an extra dog or cat, or mom and litter, to give these animals time to find a new home that is a good fit. Some of these pets have had rough experiences, and need time and care to learn to trust and enjoy human company again. Some of them need time to heal from injuries or illnesses. Foster homes give the time, affection, and shelter to let these dogs and cats recover and find responsible new homes.
Who provides what?
In addition to compassion and room in your home, the foster home usually provides quality food, and also litter for cats. If finances are tight, CAWS can provide help for these essentials.
CAWS covers the costs of all veterinary care and provides vouchers for the fosters, who take the animals to vet appointments. CAWS is billed directly for the vet treatment. We make sure the animals are tested for communicable diseases, to ensure the "foster brother and sister" cats and dogs are not at risk.
How will my pets deal with this?
Just as when adopting a new pet, we recommend that the foster pet at first be kept separate from the foster home's dogs and cats and give him or her time to adjust to the foster folks. Some foster home pets adjust quite quickly to a "visitor". And in some cases, the foster pets are kept separate, and are given their own time and attention. This may work especially well for a mom and a new litter, for example.
Fostering does require some patience, and the effort to make it work. We are so often charmed and amazed at the creative and kind ways foster homes are able to fit in that extra dog or cat who needs their help.
What if it doesn't work?
Yes, we've had homes where the house cat throws himself at the door of the room where the new cat is or where the dog is just beside himself. If it is just too much, the foster animal goes to another foster family right away. It is important to CAWS (and the animals) that fostering is a rewarding experience.
How long does it take to find a new home?
It can be a week or two, or even up to a few months. Always with the agreement that if it does not work out, the foster pet will go to another foster home. What we know is we can't predict how quickly a new home will be found - our predictions have been proven wrong both ways lots of times!
Do I help find a home for my foster dog or cat?
CAWS does the work to find and screen potential adopters. The foster is asked to bring the pet to PetSmart or other adoption events, and pick it up at the end of the day if it is not adopted (we'll call if the pet is adopted). CAWS also places newspaper ads. If a caller seems to be qualified to adopt, the volunteer gives the caller the phone number of the foster home, but not the address. The volunteer lets the foster know someone may be calling, and the foster can set up a time for the person to visit the animal. The person may not adopt the animal until he or she meets with a CAWS volunteer and completes the paperwork, and the foster home is advised. The majority of CAWS adoptions are conducted at adoption days at PetSmart.
I think it would be hard to part with a foster pet!
All of us who have fostered would agree it is not easy to let an animal you have taken in leave for a new home. CAWS has a careful screening process, and gives weight to any input foster folks would like to give. We also adopt only to people who agree up front that a CAWS volunteer may either arrange to visit a pet in its new home, or deliver the pet to the home. We encourage fosters to be the volunteers who visit "their" pets in their new homes.
Seeing your rescue cat or dog in a great home, taking it a special treat or toy, and being able to answer any questions the new owner may have helps to see the value of your efforts, and makes it easier to foster again.
Those wonderful folks who have fostered for CAWS a number of times tell us how rewarding it is to realize they have made all the difference for a number of animals in need, who had no other chance.