Monday, March 25, 2013

Foster, My Foster

My life is never dull. Lately though, it's not been something I've felt was really something to talk about. Then last week happened. It actually all started maybe a week to two weeks prior to last week. A lady I met had some pamphlets on pet rescue and animal fostering. I grabbed a pamphlet and talked to my husband. What a great idea. Our kids have been bugging us about a dog for a while, and fostering would give us a better indication if our family was ready for that type of commitement. So last week I sent in the fostering forms and that is when all hell broke loose.

(My mom's adorable, beastly, baby.)

I won't be mentioning the name of the rescue organization here. I am not here to slander the group, although I do believe that they should be held to strict laws. Not just them, but other rescue places here in my Province. To date anyone can take in animals and call themselves a rescue place. They can claim they are a non profit organization and helped many animals find homes. There are no laws requiring them to have proof of anything. They can charge what they want for adoption fees. They can lie and do what they will to get the results they pesonally desire. There is absolutely zero accountability for these rescue places. This needs to be changed. But until it is, I feel I need to write a post on what you need to look for in a good place to foster for.

All my life I have been around animals. I am very animal saavy and know what behaviours they should be exhibiting around children. Well cats and dogs that is. Other animals, I truely have no clue about. My mom used to breed dogs as well, so I have seen the gammot. I've grown up with big and little dogs and never had any problems with any of them. So of course I wanted my children to have that chance as well. But, we are a very busy family and just got our first cat from the Humane Society last Summer. Our cat has fit in well and we wanted to go ahead and see if a dog was going to work before we took another trip down to the Humane Society or another avenue to bring home another family member.

We knew what we were getting into when we started filling out the forms, early mornings, cleaning up lots of dog poop, daily to twice a day walks, possible crate training and house training. This wasn't my first rodeo, and I was raring to make a difference in someone's life.

We had never fostered before, so we took it at face value when the forms we filled out said there would be a home inspection done, at which time we'd meet the people and find out their process. We also got a message through facebook stating this exact same thing. So I sent in my forms and waited anxiously. I didn't expect to get a response within the hour to take in a foster. They were in a bind and needed a home for the pet a.s.a.p. I asked the pertinent questions. Is the dog good with young children and a cat. What would be coming with the dog? Is the dog neutered/spayed? The age of the dog. Assured all was well with the children and cat we went that evening to pick up his things. I would get the dog the following day from another home. He was great at first. The next day he started herding my two and four year old and nipping at their hands. By day three he kept going after my youngest son in play and nipping at his head, and wasn't doing so well with listening to my commands of no. I went to work and this continued for my husband. The dog spent quite a bit of time in his crate that night. At 5:00pm I sent an email to the rescue stating the herding and nipping issues and that this dog needed to be placed in another home, as it was no longer safe for my kids. I checked my email the next morning and no response. At 10am the dog was playing with my two year old son and began nipping at his head again,so I put him in his crate for a time out. I brought him out and he started again, this time he started nipping at my son's throat. Holy beans! That dog had his mouth over my son's throat! He needed to go. I put the dog on his leash and tied him to me. The kids were told to stay away from the dog, and of course they couldn't understand why but complied. My husband saw the dog leashed to me at noon and asked if there was a response from the rescue place. With none, he told me to email again. I got a response that they were lining a place up and needed more time. An hour later my husband overheard me telling a family member that the dog had been nipping at my son's throat and that was why he was tied to me. Understandably he was upset and gave me two hours to get rid of the dog or he was taking him to the Humane Society. I emailed the lady the predicament and what I was going to do if we didn't get him out immediately, and she freaked out, telling me to return the dog and all his belongings to her apartment. So I did. I felt terrible. I was already falling in love, but my children came first. It was made even worse when another of her fosters started attacking this dog I brought back and he tried to escape back to me. I told the lady that there was a ball we bought for the dog in there and a brand new bottle of dog soap. Also recommended that the dog only be placed in a home with older children. Her response was, "or a home with dog saavy children". At that point I had to walk away. I was fuming. The kicker was when I got home and only the smallest part of what happen was posted on their FB page. The part where I said they had two hours to get the dog a placement or we were taking him to the humane society. I was then attacked by people who said if I wasn't in it for the long haul I should never have fostered. That how could I foster when my house was so clean. And other really disparaging remarks. I was angrier than when I left the dog there to be beaten up by another dog. At no point in time did this rescue state it was for safety for my children and the dog. In fact, they tried to justify their actions in saying that they put up just that because asking nicely for foster homes doesn't work. So to get a home quickly for this dog they villianized me in front of people in a city I live in. I found out through the interactions that this dog should never have been placed in my home, and should have been in a home with older children. But I was blamed for being a bad foster. Except for three or four people, everyone else was on the side of the rescue and I was a bad foster.

(These are my mother's dogs. I can leave my children with them in a room and not have to worry about anyone getting hurt. My kids are very dog saavy.)

So here are some things you should do:

1. Investigate the fostering system in your city. (Are there rules and regulations they must follow? Are they supposed to be registered as an organization in the city? How well known are they? How many years have they been running?) Don't just go by word of mouth. If you cannot find any information on a rescue place, go straight to your city's Humane Society, they almost always have their own fostering program and would be the best and most reputable place to foster from.

2. Check out all their policies. And make sure they follow them!

Red Flags I missed: They didn't do a home check. They didn't call my references. They didn't know me from Adam, yet asked me if I wanted to foster the dog.

3. Know everything there is to know about the dog. Do your research before taking the dog on. On their site it should state what kind of home the animal should be in in their adoption section. Or if they are linked to a place like Kijiji, it will be stated there.

4. DON'T feel pressured to take the first animal on that they throw your way. You obviously have a good, caring heart if you are doing fostering in the first place, so it's hard to turn an animal away. Places like I dealt with count on that. A rescue place should not have so many animals on board that they are desperate for people to foster. Desperation like this leads to misplaced animals and often injuries to the animal, child(ren) or both.

5. If they don't answer your questions in a timely manner, don't be afraid to keep "pestering". We live in a time of good technology, there is no reason why an email cannot be answered in 2-3 hours tops. (this is counting on a high level of email volume)

6. Lastly, don't feel bad if the foster doesn't work out. That is why you foster, to test the waters. People foster for many reasons and it's better to foster for a short time and know what works for you and your family, than for a long time to please the rescue place and risk injury to anyone including the animal.

If you follow these tips I'm sure your fostering experience would turn out much better than mine. I have learned that right now we are not ready for a dog of any kind. While there is someone home all of the time, there is still a lot of running around and things that need to be done that is suited more to an independant cat than a dependant dog. Right now we are just strictly a cat family.

However, due to the most awful experience I don't think I will ever foster another animal again. Unless it's my mom's. At least I know if it doesn't work she'll take her back.

Good luck and happy fostering!


  1. I love the post and think you are right on. You did the right and responsible thing.

  2. What a good looking dog. We rescued two lonely cats about six months ago. Both on the verge of death had it not been for us.

    I especially like your tips on pet adoption. Very well written.

    1. Thanks :D My mom's dogs are awesome sauce! Aww. Well I got some stories too. But I have to make posts on them. Soon :D

      Those lonely cats sound like they are very blessed :D

  3. How To Train Your Dog I have been studying your blog posts during my break, and I need to admit your complete article has been very useful and very well composed.

    1. thank you so much :D I'll check out your link. We have definitely come to the decision dogs are not for us and we ended up adopting another cat from our humane society :D


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