Houston, TX has one of the most serious animal welfare situations in the country. With hundreds of thousands of stray animals on the streets of our city, every person willing to open their homes and hearts to a foster pet helps save that pet who would otherwise struggle or die on the streets or in the shelter.
By fostering you provide a temporary place for your foster dog to heal physically and emotionally and learn social skills that will help them find their forever home. We will provide you with a foster packet that will provide you with lots of helpful information, as well as provide ongoing support for you throughout your foster journey. Fostering an animal in need is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Come partner with us in rescuing Houston’s homeless dogs, one innocent life at a time! Please fill out a Foster Application, and in the meantime, here are some answers to frequently asked questions:
Do I need to buy supplies for my foster?
We are happy to provide you with the supplies you will need, including food, crate, bedding, toys, etc. If you want to be reimbursed for a purchase, you must get prior approval from your Foster Coordinator.
What if my foster pet has to go to the vet?
All veterinary care is paid for by the rescue (FD), but only if you take the dog to one of our vet partners. You will need to refer to your foster handbook for a list of approved vets or talk to your Foster Coordinator. If you take your foster dog to a vet other than a FD vet partner, but have not received approval to do this, you will be responsible for paying the bill. With limited funds, FD must utilize the partnerships we have whenever possible. This is very important, and non-negotiable.
The procedure: First, contact your FD representative to determine whether vetting is necessary. If a visit is deemed necessary, and it is a non-emergency issue, simply contact a FD veterinary clinic to make an appointment. You are then responsible for taking the dog to the vet. If your schedule does not permit, you will need to find another FD volunteer to take the dog.
What if my foster pet has a vetting emergency?
If your dog has an obvious and clear emergency (hit by car, serious fight with another animal, ingestion of dangerous object) then contact your FD Foster Coordinator immediately and inform them that you will be taking the dog to your nearest emergency vet. FD does not usually receive discounts from emergency vets, so you will likely just go to your nearest emergency vet. Again, as much as possible, any emergency vet visit needs to be approved by FD.
How long am I expected to foster?
If you are fostering a dog that has been accepted into our transport program, you will have the dog for up to, but no longer than, 3 months while they get healthy and are paired with a rescue group up north. For local fosters, we prefer that you commit to fostering your animal until an adoptive home can be found. Unfortunately, we cannot predict how long this will take. It depends on the dog’s breed, age, temperament, and the time of year, as well as how proactive you are about marketing your foster animal and attending adoption events. If you can only foster for a specific period of time, please be certain to indicate this up front to your Foster Coordinator. Sometimes another foster home can’t be found, which means that your animal must go to a boarding facility. We prefer to avoid boarding animals because it’s both expensive for FD and stressful for the dog. Still, if you find you cannot continue fostering your animal, contact your FD representative immediately.
Can I allow my new foster dog to play with my pets/family members?
Absolutely, but we cannot emphasize enough the importance of taking your time doing this. Some foster dogs may initially have treatable, but contagious, conditions that you will want to protect your pets from. Also, many dogs that come off the streets are stressed in their new environment and need some time to rest and adjust. We call this process “decompression.” The addition of a foster dog may also take some adjustment from existing animals in the home. It is best for all animals in the home if you gradually introduce your foster dog into your home environment in order to increase the likelihood of a smooth transition. Your Foster Coordinator will be happy to help you with this process.
Regarding children, we have no way of knowing if your foster dog has ever been around children and what those experiences may have been like. It is important to introduce slowly, coach children in appropriate ways of interacting with a possibly stressed dog, and above all, supervise all interactions between a foster dog and your pets/children.
What if I don’t like a prospective adopter?
We recognize that you will probably develop a close bond with your foster dog and will want to make sure he/she gets only the best home. If your foster dog is accepted by a northern rescue, please be assured we have carefully vetted our rescue partners and that they will be diligent in finding good homes for our dogs. For local adoptions, we feel that our foster families should be involved in the decision regarding the home in which their foster dog gets permanently placed. Together with our Adoption Coordinator you can work together to determine adopter suitability for your foster dog.
What if my foster animal isn’t working out?
FD will make every effort to ensure a good and safe foster match for you. You can help by letting your Foster Coordinator know up front about any concerns or limitations you may have regarding fostering. However, despite our best efforts there are times when a foster arrangement will not work out. In this case, contact your FD representative as soon as possible. If the issues are minor, FD can work with you to address them. Many times, problems can be solved by trying a few new things and/or by giving the dog time to adjust to your home. For example, we can switch crates, switch foods, increase exercise, or offer simple behavioral solutions to try. Other times, an animal may simply not be a good fit for your home or lifestyle. FD will always take the foster animal back if an issue cannot be resolved. However, we ask that you give us at least 24 hours to make a plan. If that is not possible, we will make emergency arrangements. FD never wants to put the safety of the Foster person, their own animals, or the foster dog in jeopardy.
Can I adopt my foster dog?
Certainly, so long as we all feel it makes sense. But keep in mind that adopting your foster dog may mean that you can no longer foster. We’ll be sad to lose you! Think through the decision carefully so that you are not deciding to keep the animal solely because it is too difficult to let him/her go. The first few foster experiences can be difficult, as you’ll get attached and may have trouble letting go. This gets easier the more comfortable you become with the fostering process. And remember, your role as a Foster mom or dad is invaluable! As an adopter you may only be able to save one animal’s life, but as a foster parent you have the potential to help dozens of dogs. You will need to work with your Foster Coordinator to discuss whether your adoption is truly in the best interest of your foster dog.
What if I have to leave town?
Please notify us ahead of time so that we can make arrangements for your foster dog to go elsewhere while you are gone. Some foster families (who have other pets) have dog sitters who will also watch their foster dog. Other Foster families like to travel with their foster dog. Others may have a boarding facility they work with. We are open to ideas, but generally cannot afford to cover the costs of dog sitters or expensive boarding facilities. If you cannot cover these costs, FD will allow you to make arrangements either with one of our boarding partners or with another temporary Foster. Be sure to give us enough warning so that we can help you make these arrangements. Keep in mind that holidays can be difficult to find space and are expensive. The more advance time we have, the better!
What if I have an emergency and have to leave town right away?
Contact your FD representative right away. We will work with you to find a suitable option or have you bring the dog to one of our boarding partners.
Can I take my foster dog to the dog park or hiking?
Absolutely, but only after the dog has been properly vaccinated and you get to know the dog and know that he/she will do well in that environment. Going to the dog park prematurely may result in a fight, and we cannot afford expensive vet bills. And of course, we don’t want your foster dog or any other dog harmed. And NEVER take your dog off-leash unless you are in a fully fenced, secure area. Be aware, too, that some dogs like to climb or jump fences, so be sure to pay close attention the first time you take your foster dog off-leash. You will be surprised at which dogs like to and can jump fences! Your foster dog should always have an ID tag with contact information on it. This is vital. Putting your foster dog in a situation that could bring danger to him or others is something every Foster needs to think carefully about.
Do I have to use a crate for my foster dog?
We highly recommend it! We cannot guarantee that a dog is housebroken, won’t chew your items, and won’t hurt him/herself when unattended. The safest way to protect your home and the dog is to use a crate. Forgotten Dogs cannot be responsible for damage done by a dog left unattended and uncrated. We also cannot guarantee that we will pay the vet bill if you choose to leave the dog uncrated and the dog or your own pet is injured. In time, you may find your foster dog doesn’t need the crate. But make that decision only after you “test run” the dog a few times and really get to know the dog and his/her behavior. We will be happy to provide you with information regarding crate training for your foster dog.
What if my pets get sick from my foster pet?
To prevent this, we strongly suggest that all your pets be current on all vaccinations (including kennel cough), use flea/tick prevention, and regular dewormer (many heartworm prevention medications have this included). In order to prevent your pet from getting intestinal worms (which are passed through the animal’s stool) you should pick up each dog’s stool immediately. Pets that are current on their vaccines usually will have no problems with foster pets, or the problems that do arise are small and very easily addressed. If your animal is fully vaccinated and you follow the above protocol, but your own pet still contracts an ailment from your foster, contact your FD representative and we will determine whether we can pay for treatment. Please do not go to your vet expecting reimbursement. Check with your FD Foster Coordinator to see if we have medical supplies that we can give you at no cost. We will evaluate each case individually.
If you have any questions, please let us know. It is our goal to make fostering a fun and rewarding experience for you and the dog that is placed in your care. Please know that we appreciate your work with our organization, and your Foster Coordinator is always here to help you. Together, we can save lives! 🙂