Being a foster parent

I’m going to take a moment here and stray from my usual musings, to talk about being a foster parent to a dog or cat.

There are many animals in our general metro area and the surrounding counties that find themselves in less than ideal living circumstances. Several groups exist, that work tirelessly to place these animals into better situations. All of these groups are made up of volunteers. One part of the volunteering aspect of these groups is the Foster Parent.

So what exactly does a foster parent do and what does it take to be a foster? Foster parents are a special volunteer, kind of like being a grandparent and it takes a little more than just the notion of “I’d like to have a pet”, in as much as fosters are committed to opening their homes to animals in need and in some cases housing multiple animals. Fosters assume the better part of responsibility of caring for animals and providing a quality living environment for them while they are waiting to be adopted into their “forever” homes. Quite the responsibility but mostly a labor of love.

Depending on the organization to which a foster is attached, the foster parent is provided with basic essentials for animal care such as food and medical care at little or no cost as well as crates, collars, leashes and toys. The foster has the responsibility of making sure that any animal they take in is available for adoption events.

Finally, a true story. I was working a big event that my group, Henrico Humane Society puts on every year. At the end of the day, a family approached me and asked about adoptions. They seemed very interested but tentative about taking on an animal. The father said that he was unsure if his children were up to the task of caring for a pet. While the children looked over the dogs that we brought to the event, I asked the father and mother some questions about their concerns. Both parents worked and they were concerned that the animal might become neglected because of the children’s youth and inexperience. It was at this point that I started to talk about fostering and explained how a foster parent situation works and what is expected. The parents took quite an interest in this as I explained further and I finished of the discussion by telling them that a foster situation might just make a good learning experience for both parents and children. At the end of it all, the parents and kids left saying they wanted to talk it over and see where things were. They told me they were interested in finding out more about being foster parents and would look over the online information that HHS has at its homepage. Several weeks later the family came to visit at our regular adoption stand. They were in the process of filling out the foster application but were going to wait to get into the program as they wanted the kids to get just a little bit older before taking on the responsibilities associated with having a pet. I applaud their decision to wait because of the kids and when they do come back whether it be to fully adopt or foster, I know that they will provide a loving and caring environment for some deserving puppy or dog.

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