First and foremost, we’re all in this together! Our goal is to make fostering a positive experience for you and your foster dog. Without fosters, we cannot save dogs’ lives, so we have a lot of motivation to make it work. We hope the information here will help make fostering fun and easy for you. We are happy to spend time helping you whenever we can, but please remember that we are all volunteers, with jobs, family commitments, and our own pets (and fosters). No one pays us to do this – like you, we do it because we love dogs and want to help. Please be patient with us and with your foster dog.
Think twice before you offer! We don’t mind questions, emails, and phone calls – but the one thing we hope to avoid is a call saying “come get my dog.” To avoid this situation, please do not offer to foster if you are not able to cope with common issues and problems with patience and a sense of humor. Even people who sincerely want to help may not realize all that is involved in bringing a temporary pet into their home. We do our best to match you with the right dog, but we cannot control or predict everything. When you get a dog straight from the shelter, you need to be prepared for surprises and for a transition period that can last several weeks (or more). Your foster dog may never have lived in a home before. She or he may never have had kind treatment from humans, may have been on a chain or in a pen and unable to socialize normally with other animals, may have been hungry or abused, or may just be very confused and scared.
Follow instructions! The best way to avoid problems is to follow the instructions that we give you. This includes specific instructions for feeding, activity, and medical care for your particular foster dog and also our general guidelines listed here. We know most of our fosters are experienced dog owners and may have had different experiences that lead them to question our wisdom (or even our sanity), but our guidelines are based on experiences that have taught us to be extra cautious. Especially important: please introduce your foster dog very slowly to your own pets, even if in the past you’ve been able to toss new pets into the mix without problems.
Most problems can be resolved if you are consistent and patient. However, if you are going to throw in the towel the first time your foster dog cries in his crate, growls at your dog (or vice versa), or has an accident in the house, then please do not volunteer to foster. We would love to have you volunteer in other ways that are less stressful for everyone concerned.
We do not have a backup foster home. If you really have tried everything and cannot keep your foster dog, we will do our best to find a new foster home but it may take time. Please understand this before you commit to fostering. (The exception is when we take a dog from a current foster to try in a new foster home. We do this especially for fosters with cats. We can arrange this, but otherwise we take dogs from the shelter’s euthanasia list directly to the foster home and there is no backup.)
1. Perhaps the most common reason that fosters want to return their foster dog is issues with their own dogs. We recommend giving it at least two weeks before you give up! During this time, please keep the foster pet separated from your dog(s) and follow our instructions for carefully managed interactions.
The key is GO SLOW! We live by this advice from BAD RAP, and we have had good success with slow introductions even for dogs who were reactive and growly at first. It’s hard for your dogs to accept a stranger into their turf, and it’s scary for the new dog to try to fit in. (Here’s more good info on socializing and introducing dogs.) If you are not willing to follow instructions and stick it out for a couple of weeks, then please do not try fostering.
If you follow this advice and it still doesn’t work out between your dog and the foster, then we will find a new foster home – but it may not be immediate. Please keep dogs separated during this time and we will do our best. We cannot always work miracles, but we try.
2. The second most common issue is house training. Again, we can almost always resolve this problem if you follow instructions and are patient and consistent! Crate training is the key. We will give you detailed instructions and support.
1. First and foremost, talk to us! Please let us know whenever you have questions or concerns, about health, behavior, or anything else. We want you to enjoy fostering and we are glad to do anything we can to help.
2. For health concerns, please do not take your foster dog to a vet without first getting approval from POPB. We need to keep track of every foster dog’s health and know what is going on. We know the dog’s history and may be able to address the issue without a vet visit. We also cannot afford unnecessary vet visits, nor can we afford visits to private vets who do not offer us a rescue discount. If a vet visit is necessary, we can direct you to the right place.
EMERGENCIES: If you think that your dog’s life or safety is in danger, please try to get in touch with Anna, Sharon, Blanca, or another POPB volunteer immediately. If you cannot reach us and it is truly an emergency, please take your dog to Archer Animal Hospital (16105 SW Archer Rd., Archer, 352-495-2910) during regular hours (7-6 weekdays and 8-12 Saturdays) or Affiliated Emergency Vet on weekends and nights (352-373-4444, 7314 W University Avenue, Gainesville).
3. Please do not take your dog to off-leash dog parks without first checking with us. Dog parks can be great fun but they can also be dangerous. We cannot afford vet care or a lawsuit if something goes wrong! Some of our dogs are experienced and well-socialized and do great at the dog park, but not all are ready for it. Please check first.
4. Do not let your foster dog off-leash in any other setting besides a fully enclosed yard or dog park. No exceptions, no matter how calm and well-behaved your dog is. It’s not worth the risk of having your dog hit by a car, attacked by another dog, or lost.
5. Follow all instructions for feeding, medication, and other health issues. If your dog is heartworm positive, it is especially important that you follow the rules about restricted exercise. We won’t place a special-needs dog with you if you have not agreed to it, but sometimes issues arise unexpectedly. As always, we will try to work with you to make the situation better. Please be patient with us and with your foster dog!