The cost of living crisis - could you be a pet foster carer?

Foster Dog

As the cost of living crisis takes hold, pet rehoming centres across the UK are seeing a huge increase in demand for their services, causing many of them to be at capacity in terms of the number of pets they can look after. The increase in living costs also means a decrease in the number of people adopting pets, due to concerns that they may be unable to afford food or vet fees. One way in which they are asking people to help, is through becoming an animal foster carer and providing a temporary home for animals in their care.

So, could you be the pawfect foster parent for a pet in need? There are a number of fantastic benefits to fostering pets, but there are also challenges to be aware of…

How does fostering help rehoming centres?

By utilising a network of foster carers, rehoming centres are able to support with taking on more animals, which would help relieve the current strain on the system. Foster parents also provide the food, bedding, toys and other supplies needed to look after a pet, which reduces the costs for rehoming centres.

How does fostering help the animals?

Many animals that end up in rescue homes are not used to the care and affection that they deserve. Living with a foster family helps to provide them with one-to-one care, allowing them to build up their confidence and get used to a normal lifestyle.

Other animals don't cope well in an animal centre environment, or need to remain in care for a long period of time whilst legal proceedings take place. This is where centres need fosterers to take them in to provide them with a real home, even if it is only on a temporary basis.

Fostering doesn’t just provide a home, it plays a vital role in the rehabilitation of animals and helps improve their chances of finding a new home.

How fostering could help you

If you love pets, but can’t commit to having one long term, fostering could be a great option for you. Equally if you’re considering having a pet but aren’t quite sure about committing in the long run, looking after a pet while they find their forever home could be the perfect insight into what owning a pet could be like.

It’s also really rewarding to know that you have played a central part in helping an animal in need and support them with starting a new life. You’ll get to meet and care for lots of different pets, each with their own unique personalities, and see them rehomed with a new loving family!

What to consider if you’re thinking about fostering

Home environment – many adoption centres specifically need adult only homes with no other pets, which provide a calm environment for their animals. This is so that they can ensure the best chance of success for the foster animal. A private garden isn’t essential but would be highly beneficial for those looking to foster a dog so that they have a safe, secure space to follow any training needed.

Location – you will need to live in close proximity to the centre you’re fostering with (e.g. under an hours travel). This is so that you can easily travel into a centre if required for clinic and rehoming appointments.

Experience – some foster pets may need a home with more experienced owners due to their individual needs. This is so that the owner and pet are both comfortable and in a safe environment where the pet can thrive. Training and support is often provided however, so it’s always best to check with your local centre for their requirements.

Cost – most centres will expect you to cover the cost of food, toys and bedding, so you will need to ensure that you are able to do this before committing to becoming a foster pet parent.

Time – rescue centres often stipulate that the foster pets should have minimal/low time alone, particularly when it comes to dogs. This is because at the start of fostering most dogs will not be able to be left at all and alone time would need to be built up gradually. They may also ask you not to take your dog to work or day centres.

Patience – some foster animals may be victims of neglect or abuse, which means they require patience as they adapt to their new life and surroundings. Persistence and patience are key when it comes to understanding your foster pet and providing the support they need.

Flexibility – rescue centres will often need foster carers to come in for appointments such as clinics with the vet or rehoming appointments. The timing of these will depend and could be throughout the day/week, so you would need to be able to have some flexibility in order to meet these needs.

Emotional attachment – it’s of course really easy to become attached to a pet that you foster. If you think saying goodbye may be too tough, you could always consider adoption instead!

Fostering pets isn’t for everyone, but it can be an incredibly rewarding way to support the animals who are most at risk. Fostering isn’t just for dogs and cats either, there are lots of smaller animals who need support – so check-in with your local RSPCA or other re-homing centre if you would like to find out more.

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