How hard is it to foster a dog?

0804141759-1Part 2 of Doggone North Canton took place tonight at the North Canton Public Library, where Allegra French of Paws and Prayers gave a short lecture on the rescue group’s foster program. Although different agencies no doubt have different procedures, this will give you some idea of just how easy it can be to bring a foster dog into your home.

Paws and Prayers is the largest foster-based rescue organization in the state of Ohio, and has as its motto, “Be a part of the solution!” (Good advice for any problem, I’d say.) They serve primarily the following counties in Ohio: Summit, Stark, Portage, Holmes, and Adams, where they pull dogs in danger of euthanasia from the counties’ animal control offices.

What do I have to do?

Paws and Prayers picks up an average of 10 – 20 dogs per week (and cats, too!) so they are always in need of foster homes. They have very few expectations of their foster families, as follows:

  • Take the animal to at least two adoption events each month
  • Maintain the animal’s information on the Paws and Prayers website
  • Always do what is best for the animal
  • Contact their medical team for any needs that arise (and transport the animal to their office for care)
  • Be prepared

This last point, Allegra illustrated by saying, “Things are not always great, but don’t let that get you down.”

What do I get out of it?
The benefits of fostering include helping animals adjust to family life, communicating the animal’s unique habits and behaviors to potential adopters so you can help make a perfect match, receiving updates from adopters after the animal leaves your home, and being an advocate for animals in need of adoption.

Paws and Prayers asks that adopters bring the animal back to them if the adoption doesn’t work out, and they try to place the dog in the same foster home if he or she bounces back, so you may get to see some continuity in the animals you take.

What I found unique about this program is that the foster family (NOT the rescue agency) gets to review the adoption applications for animals in their care. The foster chooses the adoptive family that seems most likely to be a loving, successful placement for the dog. After all, who would know better what the animal needs than the person who is presently taking care of him or her?

Another neat advantage of the Paws and Prayers program is that foster families get to go to the pound to pull the dogs they want to foster. They can choose breed, size, age range, etc. rather than just taking whatever is thrust upon them. For those looking for puppies, they are usually sent to foster care in pairs or three’s, and are generally adopted quite quickly, as soon as they are spayed / neutered.

Paws and Prayers does allow foster families to adopt any of the dogs they are currently fostering, so this can be a good way to “try before you buy” to make sure the animal is a good fit for your family.

How much does it cost?

Paws and Prayers supplies their foster dogs with food, crates, medical care, blankets, and toys. “All you have to provide is the love,” says Allegra. Yes, this makes the adoption fees a little higher than you would see at most shelters, but some of the dogs are “sponsored”, meaning that their adoption fee is little to nothing.

Each dog is temperament tested and vet checked before placement in a foster home, and foster families have access to a great network of dog lovers who can give them advice on troublesome behaviors or on introducing a new dog to other animals and children in the home.

Depending on the age, size, and breed of the dog, you might keep a foster for as little as 24 hours or for as long as 18 months or even longer. Even though it is sad when a foster dog leaves your home for his or her “furever home”, Allegra notes that it “feels right when you know they are leaving for a good home.”

Paws and Prayers lists animals on their website that are currently in need of foster care. These may be dogs who are on the short list at a pound, dogs in a foster home that is over-crowded (more than 4 dogs), or dogs being housed at Camp Bow Wow, a boarding facility that provides overflow housing until a foster placement can be located.

Meeting a graduate

Gale Nagel-Nichols was at the meeting, along with her adopted dog, Rudy, who picked her at an adoption event five years ago. Rudy, a Golden Retriever / Lab mix, was a stray of about 6 or 7 years old when he was taken to an adoption event by his foster family. Gale has since trained him as a therapy dog and says, “the love has just been exponential” as we visit at hospitals and nursing homes. Rudy is pictured at the top of this post.

So, have I convinced you yet that you ought to provide foster care for dogs? If you’re in Northeastern Ohio and would like to work with Paws and Prayers, you can fill out a foster application or go to one of their adoption events to talk to other foster providers and find out more about the program.

If you’re outside of this area, check out PetFinder’s Shelter Center to locate rescue organizations near you. Most will welcome you with open arms.

Once again, kudos to Pawsitive Ohio for putting together such a diverse, week-long event to encourage pet adoption!

Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!

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