Want to make the world a better place? Foster a shelter animal or two—or even more. Foster is a crucial part of the animal rescue world. I am a HSCT foster and I can attest, fostering is an amazing experience for me and hopefully for the animals. HSCT’s foster program is near and dear to my heart!
Fostering Saves Lives
Everyone’s heard the saying. Fostering saves lives. This is true, and the action is the very heart of a foster program. Fostering empties kennels. HSCT, like all shelters are always cramped for space. Each time a kennel is vacated, it saves the life of the pet fostered, and it frees up a place for another animal.
But what exactly does fostering entail? Fostering a pet means allowing a homeless animal to live in your home as a member of your family until it is adopted. What are the requirements while an animal is in your home? Fostering includes nurturing, training, and giving loads of love. Fostering also makes the transition into a forever home easier for the pet and the adopter.
So aside from saving a life, what else does fostering do?
Foster Pets Learn How to be Loved
Many animals, especially dogs come to a shelter environment, hurt, abused, or abandoned. They may have trust issues and won’t go near their foster parent or they may behave the opposite and have separation anxiety and refuse to leave their new person’s side.
There are quite a few animals who are surrendered by their owner, due to one reason or another. These pets usually feel betrayed and can shut down. They had a good life and it was taken away. Now they live in a noisy kennel. They’re basic needs are taken care of, but that’s about all the overworked staff can do. These poor souls don’t understand why their companion left them after they’ve been a faithful friend. Fostering helps those animals believe in humans again. It assists in reestablishing trust.
Time and patience are the key to successful fostering. Once the pet feels secure, then their true personality emerges, and they grow into loving, adoptable animals.
Frightened or Ailing Animals Tend to Thrive Better in a Home
This is common sense. We all improve, health-wise, faster when we’re at home. Animals are no different. Like humans, they need a quiet place to decompress or heal. This happens much quicker in a home with someone to care for whatever their needs are.
There is an infirmary of sorts, but kennel coughs and upper respiratory will swiftly spread, so those dogs and cats do better out of the shelter setting. Unfortunately, the space is even a broader problem for those who need extensive care. There simply isn’t room for broken bones to mend, those suffering with mange, or other ailments.
Frightened and shy animals require socialization multiple times daily. Again, there isn’t enough staff to go around to work on social skills, and the employees greatly appreciate the fosters who are willing to take on these harder cases. Which brings us to,
Fostering is Not for the Faint of Heart
Like any other animal, all shelter pets have their quirks. Fears of thunderstorms, loud noises, and even an unexpected move will send a timid or fearful animal into hiding. Other peculiarities they can be fearful of inanimate objects. I have a friend who is in a wheelchair. She wanted to adopt a shelter dog, but had a difficult time finding one who wasn’t afraid of her chair. Some are terrified of people wearing hats, and the lists goes on, so be prepared.
Fostering a pet is an adventure. Pets have never lived inside or even been in fenced yard may not react favorably in the beginning, and they may try to escape. Kennels are a great safe place and a good training tool most of the time. Every now and then you run into a dog that goes crazy when contained.
Potty training isn’t necessarily a given, so you may end up doing lots of laundry. Anther tip; keep plenty of chewables and toys on hand. It’s your house. Set boundaries and stick to them. It’s easy to be lenient on an animal whose come into your home after suffering or having a hard life. But remember, limitations show love, too.
Keep a Sense of Humor
This is necessary when dealing with animals, whether it be your own pet or a foster. In the past year and a half, I’ve fostered around fifteen dogs. I have at least ten stories for each, and while some didn’t seem so humorous at the time, most now will end in a chuckle.
I currently foster a dog who refuses to walk inside the house. He’s afraid to go past the threshold. Outside? No problem. Yes, I do leash him when I’m in a hurry and he’s fine, but he likes to run and play with the others, and I encourage that when I have spare time. Those skills are also beneficial for him.
I don’t understand his adversity to walking inside, but he has a trigger that I must deal with, which will help him integrate when he starts his new life with his forever family.
Saying Goodbye is as Hard as You Think it Will be.
I hear this all the time; I can’t foster because I wouldn’t be able to give them up. For the longest, I felt that way, too, but it hurt one hundred times worse when I viewed photos of beautiful animals with RIP next to their picture.
I altered my outlook.
Now I do confess. I cry every time one leaves me. I always rush to the box of tissue sitting on the shelter counter after a foster is adopted.
Yes, it’s a bittersweet moment when they trot happily out of the building with their new owner. (Sometimes they don’t even bother to look back) Don’t let that profound second get in the way of becoming a foster. The happy ending makes every tear worthwhile. Most adopters are thrilled to send fosters recent photos and provide updates.
It’s also great to form a relationship with new owners because occasionally the transition isn’t always smooth. Your availability is reassuring to the adopter and that encouragement is imperative when making a successful blending. Once in a while, an animal is returned, which is okay. The pet’s needs are first, and if the fit isn’t right, then they come back, and we move on.
Just realize, whatever happens, when one chapter ends, we begin another. That’s fostering.
This says it all.
HSCT Foster Program
Emily Keil is the foster coordinator at the Humane Society of Central Texas. and she graciously has agreed to give us some personal and foster information.
A little personal history. Are you from Waco, if not where are you from. How long have you been at HSCT, and how long have you been the foster coordinator?
I’ve lived in Waco since I was 2. My Dad has always been a big supporter of the Humane Society and all of our pets that we didn’t pick up as strays have come from here.
A bit about the program. How long ago was it formed? In that time, how much has it grown? And where do you see it going in the future?
I think the foster program was formed about 5-6 years ago but it was more of a “foster-to-adopt” program then, rather than providing a home for an animal until it was adopted. It was tiny. Now we typically have upwards of 100 animals in foster care on average (more during kitten season) and we have about 90 foster homes with about 40 active fosters at any given time.
What specifics do you look for in a foster?
I mostly want our fosters to be conscientious, able to follow directions, and desirous of what’s best for the animals. They don’t have to be certified dog trainers or trained veterinarian technicians, (we can help with all things animal related!) but we do need them to care about the animals enough to do what’s best for them and ALSO to care about potential adopters. Fosters need to be good representatives of the Humane Society to our community through the way they care for their pets and the way they interact with other people.
Would you rather the foster chose their pet or would you prefer to pick?
I don’t mind if fosters pick choose which pets they want to foster – after all, we want fostering to be a good experience for the foster PERSON as well as the foster animal and sometimes the best way to make that work is for the foster to choose an animal they feel will fit well in their household. On the flipside, we often have animals that require foster homes because they cannot stay at the shelter for medical or behavioral reasons. In these cases it helps if fosters are open to suggestions.
If someone would like to become a foster, what is the process, and how long does it take before they bring a pet home?
If someone would like to become a foster they can apply online or in person. It’s easier for me to organize my time if folks apply online but I certainly don’t want to turn away anybody who walks in. I usually respond to online applications by email in 1-2 days (but we had about 30 people apply at once after hurricane Harvey so I’m a little behind!). Once we’ve established an email connection I may ask for clarification about a few things on their application but once all questions have been answered and they’ve read through the foster protocols they’re ready to take a pet home!
More on How Fostering Works
When the HSCT receives a dog or cat that, for some reason, can’t be immediately placed up for adoption. We then call our list of foster care volunteers and this is how it works from there:
- The first willing foster home will come to the shelter and pick up the animal—along with all available information and supplies.
- That animal then goes to the foster home until they are ready for adoption. (You may need to bring the animals back to the shelter periodically for medical check-ups by our on-staff veterinarian.)
- The animal stays in foster care until it gets adopted! Fosters may chose an adopter but they may not turn over the animal until the pet is spayed or neutered and the fee is collected.
Fostering animals provides the shelter with much-needed space for taking in more animals in need, and keeping the animal in a foster’s home begins the socialization process that many of them need. As well as providing a loving environment for that animal temporarily. We could not make it without our Foster Parents!
HSCT Fosters-Why I Foster
I chose to foster after leaving my past job at an animal hospital in NY where I started an adoption program saving over 200 animals in 3 years. I still felt the need to to contribute to both the community and the animals so I started fostering kittens. It has only been a rewarding party of my life. My past job at Busch Gardens Williamsburg almost all of our animal super stars came from the shelter so I will always do my part to save and promote adoption animals as potential new family members. Kristin ~HSCT Foster
HSCT Foster Sholly says, Dan and I try to foster dogs that seem like hot messes that no one will adopt, in hopes that giving them a home and stability will bring out the good in them. We do our little part to save a life every now and then, and most importantly we try to make sure our adopters get the best experience possible to word gets around about how great adoption is. That’s probably our motivating reason. To make adoption great. We do kittens because, well, they’re kittens.
These three boys are still waiting for their forever homes….
Big Boy Ballou
Hey bubs and babes. I’m Ballou. Big, Beautiful, Boisterous, Ballou, and I have problems. You see, because of my larger size, and I’m a bit loud, people tend to hurry past my kennel. No one stops to talk to the big dude, you know? Which is kind of sad. I only bark because I want to get to know you, and I want you to get to know me.
Trust me, my heart is as big as the rest of me! I behave well outside of this small cage. I like to romp, play, and if you’re in search of an exercise partner, we’d make a great team. I love to go for a stroll and I look impressive as I proudly show off my skills on a leash.
I may need some guidance after I’m in a home, but no worries. I’m a brainy one, so I’ll catch on quick to whatever you want me to learn. I also have a deep bay, and although I’m sweeter than molasses, I sound ferocious. I’m an awesome alarm system.
So how about stopping by my pad and give the big guy a second look? Better yet, take me home! My adoption is sponsored so I’m FREE! I’m Ballou. (A077417) I’m a two-year-old, male, mixed breed, and I’ve been here since 6/6/17.
Yo! Are you looking for a dog with a “cool” factor? You know, one whose smart and extremely good looking? One who may act aloof, only underneath it all, there’s a heart of gold, just waiting to be discovered? If that’s the kind of companion you’re searching for, and even if you’re not, stop by my kennel.
I’m Bugsy. And I’m kinda hard to get to know. I was probably abandoned, so I have some trust issues. That doesn’t make me a bad guy, it just means I protect my heart because I don’t want to have it broken again. Even though I may be distant, you’ll notice there’s a sweetness about me as I slowly warm up to any positive attention. I’ll even give you a quick kiss or two if you speak to me in a kind voice. I truly want to love someone and have them love me back.
I also desperately want out of this kennel. I’ve been here since, 6/6/17 which is indeed long time to be waiting for the right person to find me. I need a loving home with a patient owner where I can decompress, learn to integrate into a family as I gain confidence. Can you help me do that? I’m Bugsy, male, three-year-old pittie mix. My ID is A077416.
Laynie the Water-dog
HI! My name is Laynie and I’m a happy, happy girl once I’m outside. I become even more excited if there’s a pool in the vicinity. I really, really, like to get my feet wet. Even though I’m a water girl, I’m rather chill when I’m allowed to explore. I’m never jumpy or loud after I’m no longer inside those scary kennels.
As you may notice, I’m a very pretty, mid-size dog. Perfect for an apartment or a home. I may be distant when we first meet, I’ve been here for quite a while (my entrance date is 6/14/17) and I’d rather use my free time outdoors to explore. But that doesn’t mean I’m unsocial. I’m just afraid to let myself get too attached. With time and patience, that will all change. I’ll make a wonderful well-rounded companion.
And I’m waiting for that day! I’m saving up all my love and kisses for a special person or family to come. I just need a chance to show you what a wonderful girl I truly am. So, will you give me one? A chance? I promise you won’t regret it. My name is Laynie. I’m a female, two-year-old mix breed. My ID is A077574.
Hey baby! It’s Baby, and I loved to be babied! I’m an enchanting, petite girl, who’s curious about the world around me. As a matter of fact, I’m a little nosy body. Everything interests me, because I love to learn!
Besides absorbing the atmosphere, I’m also quite adorable, not to mention I have the cutest smile! While I am quite bright, I do need a tad of leash work, but that shouldn’t be a problem. I just need a new human to take me for walks, and I’ll get it. I’m also a little weary of people, I may have some desertion setbacks, so my new family will have to be patient with me. Once I warm up, I promise I’ll make you a fabulous companion. All I need is a bit of babying.
So how about you come get me and baby me? I’ve been here since 6/29/17 and the staff is quite wonderful, I prefer a home of my own. My name is Baby, and I’m a year-old female, Catahoula mix. My ID is A0778
Look at me, I’m one handsome dude! My name is Leander, and yes, I am a good-looking guy. It’s unclear why no one has picked me to be their forever dog. I figure my perfect family just hasn’t found me yet. But I think we need to rectify that situation. So let me expand on my wonderful qualities.
Along with winning the lotto in the looks department, I also have an amazingly charming personality, nice manners, and I’m always happy. I really like to play, but I have no problem being a lap dog if you let me! I’ll lay on you and snooze, and I promise to keep you warm on those upcoming cooler fall evenings.
To sum me up, I’m just a sweet dog full of love and kisses who doesn’t have anyone to bestow my love upon or give my sweet kisses to. Would you let me love you and maybe love me back? Come to kennel and let’s connect. I’m Leander. I’m a two-year-old, male, Labrador Retriever/Border Collie Mix and my ID is A077674. I’ve been patiently waiting for my perfect owner to come get me since 6/20/17 and I need you to hurry!
Uniquely Jaq Jaq
Hello all! This is Jaq Jaq. I know you’re all probably thinking, what kind of crazy name is Jaq Jaq? I consider it as unique. Kind of like me. I’m a super-calm boy, a bit unassuming in my kennel. I slowly lumber up to the gate, ready to warmly greet anyone who stops by. My tail is always wagging and a smile is on my handsome face.
What else is exceptional about me? I’m known around here as a gentle giant. I’m serene, relaxed, obedient, and patient. If you’re a fan of larger dogs, I truly hit all the marks, which is I’m kind of confused as to why I’ve been overlooked. I’ve been good-naturedly waiting since 6/15/17. Maybe it’s because my tranquility and silence doesn’t command a lot of attention. But my great looks, intelligence, and contentment should have you rushing to my kennel, prepared to take me home.
I mean seriously. A happy dog in a shelter. That is unique. How can I be so cheerful, you wonder? Can’t say. Although it’s just my nature to roll with the flow, I’d be much happier in a home of my own. Can you help me out on that? I’m Jaq Jaq. I’m a three-year-old male, boxer mix, joyfully waiting for you in kennel. Come see me!
Yancy, the Perfect Gentleman
I’m Yancy, and if you’re searching for a distinguished canine who has impeccable manners, then I’m the gentledog for you. As you can see by my striking photos, I’m already dressed in my tuxedo, and I look very handsome. My other impressive refinements include, walking on a leash, and I’m amazing, I know basic commands, and to top off my accolades, I’m quite the charmer.
So, with all these great attributes, you have to wonder why I’m still here? Well, it is a puzzle. I am a bit on the thin side and could use a few extra groceries, and then there’s my bark…it’s a little different. I’ve been told I sound like a seal. It’s not so awful. Some consider it quite cute and it adds to my special personality.
Bottom line, I’m a great dog, I’ve been passed over, and that’s a shame. I’d make a wonderful addition to any family. Come meet me. I’m Yancy. My ID is A077662. I’m a male, three-year-old, pittie mix. I’ve been at the shelter since 6/20/17.
I’m Roxy and I’m yappy. Yes, I admit it. I’m wanting out of my kennel so bad, that I yap at everyone that passes by. Still, no one stops! Do you know how long I’ve been in here? Since 6/15/17. That’s a long time to be caged, especially for a young girl who enjoys being active. Now, I even have one of those unsightly staff only signs on my gate, because I bark really loud when other dogs walk by.
Truthfully, I want everyone to hear my message. There’s nothing wrong with me other than I’d like to be living in a loving home. I’m a pretty girl. I’m skilled on a leash, I mind my manners, (outside the kennel), and I’m easily trained. All and all, I’m just a sweet, little lady. Once I have a soft bed to curl up on and a person to cuddle with, I’ll be a wonderful family member. Plus, I’ll be much quieter. Promise.
So, can you close your ears for just a few minutes and take the time to get to get to know me? You won’t regret it. I’m Roxy. I’m a female, eighteen-month-old, pittie mix. My personal ID is A077556
Alena, the Perfect Girl
I’m Alena. I’m an extra special girl, and I’m searching for an extra special person(s). I’m extremely tranquil inside my kennel and out. I rarely make a peep. I just gaze at you with my beautiful, soulful eyes, begging to be noticed. I just want somebody (maybe you?) to give me a chance to become a member of their family.
I’m leash trained, I obey basic commands, and my prettiness blends nicely with my gentle personality. I’d be willing to learn a lot more if you’re willing to work with me. Just one glance in my direction, and you’ll see I’m eager to please. And while I’m a mellow girl, I do have an element of coolness which make me unique. Just check out my tiny ears! Aren’t they the cutest?
I truly love everybody I meet, and I can’t understand why I haven’t found someone to love me back. I have tons of kisses saved up as I’ve been waiting for a really long time, (since 6/24/17) and I’m ready to go home. Would you take me to yours? I’m Alena, an exceptional, female, 2-year-old American Staff Mix. Please consider adopting me, and making me a part of your family.
Sweet, Sweet Nala
Psst. Are you wanting a dog who is calm, gentle, curious, and walks fantastic on a leash? How about a girl who moves like a dream and is prettier than a sunset on the beach? Are you looking for perfection? Well, I’m not perfect, but I’m possess all the above-mentioned traits.
My name is Nala, and I cornered the market on great dog features. It’s a puzzle to me. I had a home, but my owner no longer wanted me, and left me here. Their desertion makes me a bit distant in the beginning, but a few kind words and some treats, I’ll warm up real fast.
Nowadays, I sit composed in my kennel, wagging my tail whenever someone stops by to speak to me. I’m not the jumpy type, I’m more quietly excitable. Because I’m unassuming may be why no one has picked me to take me home, and make me their pet.
I’d really like to have a family of my own to love. The days seem to pass by slow, yet I’ve been in my kennel since 6/22/17. I’m such a good girl, I deserve a good home. I’m Nala. I’m a five-year-old, female, Labrador Retriever Mix. Come adopt me!
These four urgents are in need of a photo shoot, which will be coming soon! Don’t let their lack of pics stop you from adopting or fostering. Lady Tramain (top corner) Ringwald, (middle), Jester (bottom) and Junior.
Adorable urgent, Chiva went into a foster home. This low-riding, love bug is still available for adoption. She’s sweet, submissive, and is so loving. She’d make a wonderful addition to any family. Contact the shelter for more information.
Look Who’s Left the Shelter and is Now Chillin’!
Thanks to all the rescues who have taken 130 dogs and cats to make room for displaced Harvey pets or so HSCT can handle overflow from other shelters who are housing hurricane pets.
Author, Debra Jupe, Content Editor, Daniela Ranzinger, Photographer, Cynthia Favreau
Debra Jupe writes romance/suspense. Her favorite authors are Sandra Brown, Linda Howard, and Lisa Jackson. Find her books at http://www.amazon.com or http.www.thewildrosepress.com Website: http/www.DebJupe.com