Foster Program Guidelines & Questions
Foster parents are a critical part of our program at Dog Star Rescue (DSR). Since we have no centralized facilities, we rely on foster families to provide dogs a home before they get adopted. And, fostering allows us to keep our adoption fees lower, as we would not be able to pay boarding costs for all the dogs we rescue. As a dog foster parent, you help us offer the dogs a second chance at finding their forever family.
- While fostering requires time and patience, the rewards are personal and immeasurable.
- When you foster a dog, you give that dog the steppingstone to a long, happy life.
- Watching your foster dog blossom in your care and eventually go to their forever home is truly an amazing experience.
If you are interested in fostering, please read through the information below to determine if the DSR foster program sounds like it will be a good fit for you and your household.
- What does DSR provide and what do foster parents provide?
Foster parents provide a loving home, food, basic training, exercise and socialization for the animal. DSR provides the food and treats to the fosters for their foster dog.
- How long are dogs in a foster home?
This varies greatly, depending on the individual dog. The duration can range from a few weeks to several months, with an average stay of two to three weeks. We ask that foster parents commit to fostering a dog until the dog is adopted. It is extremely stressful for a dog to be moved around once they are in a foster home. We also ask that foster parents only request a transfer when absolutely necessary, such as an unexpected family emergency, significant changes in schedules or unforeseen difficulties in addressing a dog’s specific needs.
- How can I become a foster?
There are two primary steps to becoming a foster.
1. Complete a foster application. Filling out an application does not obligate you to foster, but we do ask that applicants considering fostering make a commitment which will allow DSR to schedule foster dog assignment and transport accordingly. Once received, your application will be reviewed by the foster team. If you are a good fit for our program, you’ll be invited to attend a foster dog orientation session.
2. Attend a Foster Dog Orientation session. Once you’ve completed the foster dog training session, you’ll need to sign the Volunteer/Foster Agreement, which covers all program requirements.
- Can I adopt my foster?
Yes! As long as foster parents meet the rescue’s requirements for adoption, foster parents can be considered to adopt their foster.
- How are foster dogs promoted?
Photos and stories of all adoptable animals in foster homes are posted on our social media channels, on Petfinder.com, on Adoptapet.com, and many other websites. DSR also schedules weekly adoption events. Foster parents are strongly encouraged to participate in adoption events to increase the visibility of their foster dog to potential adopters. Foster parents can also help promote their foster dog to their family, friends, colleagues and the general public through their own social media channels, flyers, emails and even just by walking the foster dog in local neighborhoods with an “Adopt Me” bandana provided by DSR.
- What if I have vacation or travel plans while I am fostering?
We also offer foster sitting if you need to travel out of town while you are fostering.
- I live in a condo, townhome, or apartment, can I foster?
Yes, you can still foster an animal living in a small environment. Many of our animals need one-on-one socialization, so a small space can be beneficial. However, it’s important that the dog selected is the appropriate animal for your lifestyle and are willing to commit to providing the foster dog with the needed physical and mental stimulation. And of course, you still need landlord approval and must abide by any restrictions.
- What if I have children?
Fostering is a wonderful family experience and can build a foundation of love for animals in your children. It’s important to select a dog that is “age” appropriate with your children, and as a general rule, children under 16 years old should NOT be left alone and unsupervised with any animal. You must also be diligent about providing guidance, instructions and rules to your children about caring for a foster dog. With that in mind, we generally do not encourage fostering for families with very young children.
- If I don’t have a yard, or it’s not fenced, can I foster dogs?
Yes! A fenced yard is ideal for those early morning, or late night potty breaks and for a game of ball, but is not a requirement. Moreover, foster dogs are not allowed to be left unattended in a yard. The reality is that the majority of dogs don’t exercise themselves when left outside. Unfortunately dogs left outside unsupervised can develop bad behavior issues like fence running, barking, or digging. Dogs need focused physical activity, mental stimulation and socialization and the best way to do this is by walking or running your foster dog on leash.
- If I have my own animals, can I foster dogs?
Yes! It is important to understand how to properly manage multiple pets during the introduction period (the first few weeks a foster is in your home). DSR has volunteers who will answer any questions and help you manage any through any introduction behavior issues.
- Do I have to crate‐train my foster dog?
No, but it is one of the most efficient and effective ways to house train a puppy or re-train an adult dog. Some dogs do not like crates initially, and most dogs need to be transitioned or “trained” to use a crate, so it’s up to the foster parent to decide whether to crate or not. Putting the dog in a crate while you are gone will give you peace of mind knowing that they are in a safe place, away from harm, and not doing any damage to your belongings or themselves. For many dogs, a crate can also represent a safe and comfortable place to call their own and provides them with a sense of security. Many dogs actually like having a “den” to cuddle up in. Crating should never be used as punishment.
- Do I need to have prior medical knowledge or expertise?
No, but you may be asked to dispense medicine to your foster animal so you will have to be comfortable following veterinarian’s instructions if fostering a sick or injured animal.
- What if my foster dog becomes sick?
All veterinary costs are paid by Dog Star Rescue. All veterinary care requires prior approval from the foster coordinator. If a foster animal becomes sick, foster volunteers will be given contact information and instructions at the foster orientation meeting.
- How much time each day is needed to foster?
Commitment and responsibilities depend on the individual animal and situation. It’s essential that foster parents understand that dogs may be stressed and transporting an animal to the foster home is also very stressful and emotional. Foster parents must be willing to be patient and commit to the animal because our goal is to keep them in a stable and consistent environment.
Many of the dogs in the rescue are “adolescent” dogs between the age of 6 months and 2 years. They typically have a lot of energy and require vigorous daily exercise. This means at least a 30-45 minute brisk walk/run in the morning and again in the afternoon, with plenty of play time in between. Older dogs may only need a morning and evening stroll.
If additional health problems develop, daily time commitments may be extended. For example, foster parents may have to transport their foster animals to the vet during regular business hours.
- Can I take my foster dog to an off‐leash dog park for exercise and socialization?
No. You are not allowed to take any foster dog from DSR to an off-leash dog park. While these parks can be fun for some dogs, there are far too many unknowns for it to be a safe and healthy experience for a foster dog. Diseases are easily transmitted and the temperaments of visiting dogs are unknown. Also, taking a leashed dog to a dog park can create barrier frustration and trigger aggression in dogs.
- How can I help my foster dog become more adoptable?
There are two ways to make a foster more adoptable. First and foremost is marketing. If no one knows about how wonderful your foster dog is, then it will be next to impossible to for them to find their forever home. In addition to supplying great photos and a bio and updating these regularly, giving a foster dog additional exposure by telling friends and family about her will help create a “network effect” and will speed up the process of finding a forever home. Simple steps like taking a foster dog on walks in local parks, outdoor shopping areas and other high traffic areas will help find potential adopters. Social media outlets like Facebook also work well. Remember, everyone in this rescue is a volunteer and we all need to do our part to market the dogs.
Our foster dogs benefit greatly from the exercise (with the exception of those with some medical conditions), basic positive reinforcement training, special love and attention you give them. While marketing provides you with applicants, it’s always the dog that “closes the deal.” Shy dogs will benefit from your patience, routine and slowly exposing them to new people to build their confidence. Rambunctious adolescents who learn good manners will help show off their trainability and long term potential.
- Am I responsible for finding my foster dog its forever home?
No, but we do need your help. Once a qualified applicant is identified, you will be asked to schedule a meet and greet with your foster and the potential adopter. Your quick response and then final input on the potential adopter is critical to finding a great match.
Often, a foster parent will find a perfect match through their own network of friends, family and colleagues. DSR greatly welcomes these referrals! If you think you have found a perfect forever home for your foster animal, remember they still must go through the application process and be approved by the screener.
- Can I return my foster dog to DSR if I am unable to foster any longer?
We prefer that foster parents continue to foster until we find a permanent home for their foster. It’s extremely stressful for an animal to be returned to the shelter environment. However, we understand that situations change and it may become necessary to discontinue fostering an animal.
We request that a foster parent provides as much notice as possible (preferably 2 weeks) so that we can find an alternative foster home. If it is an emergency we ask that you call the foster coordinator as soon as possible.