Have you ever thought about fostering a rabbit, guinea pig, or other small animal? Fostering is a great way to give back to small animals and the rescue community that cares for them, but there are many questions to ask yourself prior to making this commitment! By thoughtfully considering the following important factors, you will make your fostering experience a successful one for both the animal and your family.
Do Your Research
Reach out to local shelters and learn about their fostering programs; many offer classes and support designed to set you up for fostering success. It’s essential to have open communication with this organization so you feel comfortable asking questions and sharing concerns about the animals. Talk with other families that foster with this organization and ask those burning questions…what happens if the animal doesn’t work in our family? What happens if we want to keep the little guy? The relationship with the shelter is worth the time and effort.
What Animal Should I Foster?
This question is very important and very family-specific as each animal has different needs. All foster animals need time, space and patience but the amount is different in every situation. Things to consider are:
What pets do you currently have and are they good with fostering animals in your house?
- Is important to know your animals and their personalities. Most animals are very tolerant to new pets being introduced but others may find it difficult. Are your pets jealous or overzealous around new animals? Do their natural instincts present a potential challenging situation, like herding or staring? We recommend you have a dedicated space for foster pets and that introductions be done slowly and under constant supervision. Don’t be afraid to seek out help and guidance from the foster agency with any questions. Keeping both family pets and foster pets safe during introductions and for the remainder of the foster’s time at your home is paramount to the success of fostering.
Do you have children at home?
- Fostering can be wonderful for children of all ages.They will be exposed to important life lessons on caring, love, and loss.There are many activities that children can be involved in like cleaning cages, preparing food, hand feeding and socializing the animals.This may not be possible in all households, but it is key to ensure your children understand how to interact with the specific foster animal and any specific needs it may require.
What type of time commitment are you prepared to make?
- All animals require different amounts of time. Fostering a pair of gerbils is a smaller commitment when compared to fostering a pair of newborn kittens with round the clock bottle feeding and clean up. Be honest with yourself and the commitment you want to make because it’s just as important to the gerbils to have a safe place to live in foster care as it is to those kittens. Often the smaller animals like guinea pigs, rabbits, gerbils and hamster are harder to find foster homes.
Fostering is a wonderful adventure and offers a humbling experience to share with your entire family. The joy in seeing an animal transformed in your care and then placed in a fur-ever home is the ultimate reward. With the proper research and conversations at home in advance, you are likely to be set up for a successful fostering experience for your family and the animal in your care!