June is National Foster a Pet Month, and there’s no better time to consider opening your home to foster a pet in need.
Fostering is a much-needed service that can change the life of an animal in need. It also supports animal rescue organizations working towards improving the lives of homeless, abandoned, and at-risk pets. Plus, there are lots of great benefits for those who decide to foster.
In this post, we’ll celebrate this worthy month and its message by sharing 5 fantastic benefits of fostering a pet.
1) Fostering Helps Pets in Need
A pet can find itself “in need” for a variety of reasons. It’s estimated that 6.5 million companion animals enter US animal shelters every year. 1.5 million are euthanized. This number has dropped steadily since 2011. This is partly attributed to increased adoptions, made possible in part because of fostering!
Pets may end up in the shelter system for a variety of reasons. However, many arrive suffering from health issues and having been the victims of abuse. These sorts of problems are hard to adequately address in a shelter environment. Fostering allows for attentive care and rehabilitation in much less stressful environments.
Even temporary medical fosters can mean the difference between recovering from injuries and disease…or not.
2) Fostering a Pet Is a Great Way to See if You’re Ready to Adopt
Many people may not be ready to fully commit to a new furry friend in their life or may be curious to see if that’s the right step for them. Fostering is a great way to try it out, and many rescue organizations have foster-to-adopt programs. This is where you can see if you’re well-suited for each other and if the fit is right.
Many shelters and rescue organizations will work with you to find a suitable animal that fits your current living situation, work schedule, and family makeup. They will also gauge which pet is best, given your previous experience with caring for pets.
This is where you might sometimes hear the term “foster failure.” It doesn’t mean someone unsuccessful at fostering an animal! In fact, it actually refers to those of us who’ve taken on an abandoned or in-need pet determined only to foster but end up adopting instead.
3) Fostering a Pet Is Inexpensive
When you work with an established shelter or rescue organization, they will often cover medical bills and most other expenses. Be sure to find out these details before committing so that there are no surprises.
Smaller rescue groups sometimes rely on the foster parents to cover some of the day-to-day costs such as food, litter, pee pads, etc.
Again, chat with your contact person to know what your obligations are when fostering an animal. Ultimately, fostering is a great way to help out without making huge financial commitments. This is especially true for pets needed costly surgeries or treatment for illnesses like heartworm.
4) Foster Pets Can Improve Your Mental and Physical Health
So far in this post, we’ve discussed the benefits for the animals being fostered. But there are also many benefits for you when you decide to foster an animal in need.
To start, having a pet in the home is excellent for mental health. A review of 69 original studies on human-animal interactions found psychological and psychophysiological benefits thanks to the activation of oxytocin in us humans. Oxytocin is a hormone that plays a role in social bonding, precisely like the kind that happens between pet parents and companion animals!
Interacting with pets has also been shown to decrease cortisol levels (a stress-related hormone) in humans. This is why so many therapy animals exist for helping people with anxiety, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and more.
Those with pets, especially dogs, also tend to exercise more. Helping your foster pet get the exercise they need will have benefits for you as well. It’s recommended that we humans get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day. It can be hard to motivate yourself to exercise regularly, but when you have a foster pet relying on you, you’ll be surprised how much more motivated you are.
Even if you’re not taking your foster pet for long walks, even just playing with them in the home and offering mental stimulation and indoor exercise will get you moving. The average American leads a sedentary life compared to just 50 years ago. So, any movement you introduce can be very beneficial!
5) Fostering Frees Up Space in Animal Shelters and Reduces Euthanization
In some areas of the country, overcrowding in animal shelters is a real issue. No shelter has endless spaces. And when overcrowding occurs, animals are euthanized –especially those deemed “less adoptable” because of specific health or behavioral issues.
Senior pets with few ailments or issues are also at higher risk of being euthanized in these situations simply due to their age.
When you commit to fostering a pet, you’ll be freeing up space in the shelter for new animals and reducing the chance that perfectly adoptable pets will face euthanization.
Things to Think About if You’re Considering Fostering a Pet
Fostering is a fantastic service to provide, but there are some important things you should think about when considering it.
First, you’ll want to think about what kind of pet to foster. Many shelters and rescue groups will have dogs of various sizes and breeds and an abundance of cats that would benefit from fostering. But other pets may need fostering too, including birds, small animals like rats or hamsters, and exotic pets like turtles and lizards.
Next, consider how much time you have. A foster pet will take time to settle in, may need extra attention, and is a real commitment even though it’s short-term. And if you don’t have a pet or haven’t in the past, you’ll need to consider pet-proofing your home and what areas your foster pet will have access to.
If you currently have any pets in your home or have children, it’s a good idea to talk with the shelter or rescue organization about these factors. You’ll need to find a foster pet that will fit into these existing dynamics in your home.
Lastly, as we mentioned earlier, be clear about what your responsibilities are. Shelters and rescue organizations will often have foster parents sign agreements that outline these responsibilities. Outside of financial commitments, you may be responsible for other things as well. These may include getting your foster pet to and from vet appointments or helping to advertise for their adoption on social media.
It’s important to note that some agreements state that the foster family cannot adopt the pet. If you’re interested in a foster-to-adopt situation, this would not be right for you. However, if you’re worried about wanting to keep the pet even though you know long-term pet ownership isn’t suitable for your life right now, it could be the perfect solution!
Fostering a pet is a great idea, but it’s essential to give it careful consideration before making a final decision. If you do decide that you’re not able to foster, there are still ways you can help during National Foster a Pet Month.
Consider volunteering time to help or donate money to local shelters and rescue groups with active foster programs. You could also follow them on social media and share posts and stories about animals in need of foster parents.
We hope you enjoyed today’s post. All the best with your decision, and happy National Foster a Pet Month!