As I continued to work as a volunteer intern at PAWS Chicago, I came up with a project idea. I had been doing some research about what fostering is like because being surrounded by dogs daily sparked an interest. Then I thought, why not make a project out it?! Why don’t I try out fostering and document the experience? After getting the personal project approved by my boss, I headed over to the adoption center to propose my idea. The people at the adoption center thought it was a great idea, so they gave me the thumbs up to apply.
Before eagerly rushing home so that I could begin the application process, I thought a lot about my eligibility and if I was going to be capable of doing this. In order to foster, you have to have time, space, and reliable transportation so that you can pick up, drop off, and be able to transport your animal in case of an emergency during any time of the day. Beyond those requirements, you will then have to decipher what category you fit in as a foster.
If you have never fostered before, but feel comfortable in doing so, you fit into the basic level of fostering. If you are capable of giving medications to sick or injured pets and have had experience with animals, you are considered a core foster. Advanced fosters look after animals who require special skills and time commitments. Some advanced foster duties include bottle-feeding, helping pregnant moms give birth and wean their litters, supporting behavior modification and enrichment, and providing comfortable and loving hospice care.
After deciding I was eligible for the basic and core foster categories, I had to sit down and think about the logistics of fostering a pet. I checked with my apartment buildings regulations to make sure having a dog live with me was allowed, what the fees were and if they could be waived for volunteer/short term purposes, and if my physical living space could accommodate an animal. Another commitment to consider is time. Since I work at PAWS for about 4 hours a day during the weekdays, I knew I’d be able to have time to take care of an animal. PAWS recommends spending at least 2 quality hours with your foster pet each day. If you can provide time and have the appropriate space, you’re a great candidate. PAWS will then provide you with a lot of support during your foster period.
Once I made the personal decision to sign up as a foster, the next step I took was applying. The online application is very easy to fill out and doesn’t take much time. Submitted applications are then reviewed and you’ll receive an email regarding your approval. Then PAWS’ foster department will begin sending you emails regarding animals they believe will best fit with you as a foster parent. You may also email them if you see an animal available for foster that you are interested in. When you and the adoption center have found the right match, they will set up a pickup time and location for your foster animal.
As you pick up your foster animal, you will receive the food and medical supplies your foster pet well need as well as a collar, leash, and crate. They will also educate you on feeding portions and medical care skills that you’ll need during the foster period. Beyond the physical support, you’ll also receive support from PAWS via email and by phone. If you have any questions or comments before, during or after fostering, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have an emergency with your pet while fostering, PAWS gives you a phone number you can call as well as a backup number in case the first one fails.
In the end, the deciding to foster should be done with much thought and consideration. PAWS Chicago wants you to have to have a wonderful experience, so make sure you’re ready. If you are, know that you’re about to play an important role in PAWS Chicago’s rescue work. By fostering, you allow PAWS to take in and treat more animals. Unlike the shelter, you give these animals a personable, comfortable, and loving environment so that they can recover and grow alongside you. Best-case scenario? You might not let them go.