Become a fosterer and build a bridge from abandoned to adoptable
Our fosterers play a vital and life-changing role for abandoned dogs and puppies. As an association we take pride in supporting our fosterers and in working closely with them to provide support and guidance wherever it is needed.
For an insight into fostering dogs with Les Amis des Animaux, hear from some of our fosterers:
All about fostering
Why is fostering so important?
For dogs who have been let down by the humans they trusted, fostering offers a better chance by helping them prepare for a forever home. It might even save two lives as there is always a shortage of space in shelters –one in a foster home makes space for another.
Fostering also means we can prepare a detailed profile of each dog, so helping new owners select the best match for them.
Fostering also continues (and in some cases starts) the training process. It helps dogs learn to live in a home and socialise.
What are the options for fostering?
At Les Amis, there are three different types of fostering:
1. Fostering for adoptability
Like humans, dogs become very quickly institutionalised. In a refuge it is an inevitability, no matter how good that shelter might be. Where services are less than the best, the level of institutionalisation is even higher. This means that dogs may forget any “manners” they may have been taught when they were young. Worse still, they may have been abandoned never having been on a lead, having a fear of being touched or what they think is ‘trapped’.
They may never have been in a house or learned any basic commands.
If you have time and patience and experience in educating a dog in the basic skills of lead-walking, recall, sitting/waiting on command, being handled for veterinary and routine cleanliness, then you can offer a huge service to a dog who has not had the benefit of a loving home that showed him/her what the parameters for acceptable living are.
Fostering for this purpose does not really have a time-scale attached to it, simply because it depends entirely on how the dog adapts and learns. However we would never leave you high and dry. We maintain contact with you via your group conversation (usually on Messenger), get updates and match adoption enquiries with progress reports from fosterers.
2. Fostering to end of life
People can be reluctant to adopt an older dog as very often the only thing they can see are escalating vet’s bills. And yet these wise pensioners find it harder than many dogs to settle into refuge life. They have often known love and care for many years. They do not understand why they are out on their ear – they just know that they are.
They are not used to jockeying for position; not used to being fed on a “who gets there the fastest gets the most” basis; not used to having very few cuddles or attention. The result is that they start to deteriorate very quickly.
A long-term foster home can be a source of rejuvenation and the provider of all those things the older dog is missing. As one of our long-term fosterers so aptly put it:
An old dog does not come into lifetime foster to die, but to live
We take care of the vet’s bills; the dog is an integral part of the fosterer’s family.
3. Fostering with a view to adoption
It may be that you are looking to adopt, but there is a level of hesitancy. Perhaps the dog you have chosen is geographically distant and there has not been an opportunity to meet. Perhaps you have several dogs already, and you need to ensure that the chosen dog will integrate well.
The option to foster with a view to adoption may be a good option for you. This view to adoption foster period lasts six weeks, at the end of which a decision is made whether to move to adoption (the majority of cases) or to continue fostering until an adoptive home can be found.
Becoming a fosterer
What is required to be a fosterer?
We are constantly in need of foster families. “Fosterer” is just one word, but they come in many guises. We have people who foster for us who:
- Live permanently in France
- Live here part of the year
- Live here but travel a lot
- Only like to take abandoned litters of puppies
- Only take very sick dogs in emergencies to get them on their feet
- Prefer to take dogs that need socialising and training for adoptability
- Are willing to take an old dog on long-term foster arrangements
- Are willing to foster for as long as it takes to find a dog a home
- Want to adopt and so “foster with a view to adoption”
- Step up to foster when their heart-strings are pulled
We are grateful to all of them and without them we could not do the work we do.
How does the foster process work at Les Amis?
We always have dogs looking for foster homes! The best way to start the process is to read about what is involved in fostering a dog, then register your interest. We will ask questions about your situation and experience, and you can tell us about the sort of foster home you want to provide.
Once your application has been approved, we can start matching with the available dogs and those we know are coming on board. The placement team will review your situation and preferences, and make some initial suggestions.
We will communicate regularly until the right dog has been found that takes into account which dog has the greatest need for a foster home, your situation and experience. We shall also do our best to assess any animal before it is placed in your care so that the fostering experience gets off to the best possible start.
Once a selection has been made, we will send out the contract forms, depending on the type of foster arrangement (foster for adoptability, foster to end of life or foster with a view to adoption).
During the fostering period itself, you will be in regular contact with key members of the Les Amis team to receive updates and to support you and provide help if any advice is needed.
Before fostering what do I need to consider?
Becoming a fosterer is a commitment. Before applying, you need to consider the following:
- Family members
As a fosterer you will meet a wide range of dogs of different ancestry. Make sure everyone agrees to fostering. Discuss the added responsibilities, the benefits and the drawbacks.
- Other pets
We will have discussed with you the needs of your home pets and what they are like to be able to accept into the dynamics of their family.
- Age of foster dog
If you are interested in puppy fostering, your experience will be very different to getting an older dog. Young animals from a refuge will need all the basic training and puppies will sometimes need special work with issues such as stopping nipping and chewing things such as shoes. We even have call for fosterers who can deal with neonates.
Will you be able to let the foster dog go when it gets adopted? You get attached and letting go can be heart wrenching. Most of our fosterers find there are tears of sadness combined with tears of joy when a dog they have brought to adoptability is finally leaving them. This is what it is about. And yes, we do have a few fosterers who, contrary to their expectations, have decided to adopt the dog in their care!
What are the responsibilities of a fosterer?
The exact requirements for foster homes vary constantly to suit the specific animal but here are some basic guidelines.
- Daily Care
This includes health care, feeding, grooming, exercising, petting time and playtime. We take care of all veterinary fees.
If you have to take a dog for sterilisation, you will also carry out the post-operative care. This is generally straightforward – dogs recover far faster than humans from these interventions. Other interventions or medical needs form part of the discussion we have with you when making a match.
Fostering is a developmental process for a dog and therefore help with some basic training is usually needed. Refuge dogs come from varied pasts – many of them have been abused or neglected. One common reason dogs are surrendered to shelters is behaviour, and yet these problems are often easily rectified when the right environment is created for them. These animals will need patience and, sometimes, special training to overcome their issues. Support and guidance is given where needed.
- Finding a home
Rest assured we will be avidly looking for a new home for your fostered animal. Together we will prepare a profile of the dog in your care, promote the dog through various social media, and vet all potential new homes. You can help us by giving us further information regarding the dog’s character as you get to know it and promoting through your own social media channels.
Length of stay
This depends on the situation for you and the dog in question. For instance, if it has had an operation it will depend on the actual procedure as to when it could be found a new home. But it also depends on your circumstances and if you tell us that you can only foster for a specific period then this would be respected.
In all circumstances prior to fostering we will try give you an idea of the length of stay, but there will obviously be occasions where things do not go according to plan. For instance, a suitable permanent home may come up sooner than expected, or the animal may take longer to heal or develop. Whatever the case, we will always keep you informed and offer assistance. We will never leave you with a dog when it is not convenient for you.
Will I need to pay for vet bills?
Les Amis des Animaux cover all the vet bills for dogs in foster and arrangements are made for all treatments and consultations to be invoiced to us direct. Fosterers mostly choose to pay for food, and integrate the dog into their daily family life. Where there are special needs, we are happy to supply them.
How do I register to foster?
The easiest way is to register online. We ask you questions about the life you and your family lead, your home and your preferences to help find the right foster dog for you