Become a fosterer and build a bridge from abandoned to adoptable
Our fosterers play a vital and life-changing role for abandoned dogs, puppies, cats and kittens. 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.
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:
- Only do cats or only do dogs
- Live permanently in France
- Live here half of the year
- Live here but travel a lot
- Only like to take abandoned litters of puppies or kittens
- Only take very sick dogs or cats 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 or cat 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.
Yet we never have enough fosterers
Fostering is a way to give these animals who have already been let down by the humans they trusted, 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 – so one in a foster home makes space for another.
How you can help
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 named link person, get updates and match adoption enquiries with progress reports from fosterers.
Fostering to end of life
People can be reluctant to adopt an older dog or cat 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 or cat is an integral part of the fosterer’s family.
Fostering with a view to adoption
There are several reasons why a family may choose to undertake to foster with view to adoption. Such people are primarily looking to adopt a dog, not to foster it on a temporary basis. So they will have chosen the dog with which they would like to spend the rest of its life. However, it may be that the chosen dog is fostered geographically far away and so there has been no chance to actually meet the dog prior to adoption; or they may have one or several other dogs with whom they want to ensure full integration; or the chosen dog is not quite ready for adoption. 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.
What we look for in a fosterer
It is part of our process to work with would-be fosterers, do a home check (or in COVID times complete our Application Form) and talk with them about where their strengths for fostering lie, their preferences and of course their availability.
You will tell us the sort of foster home you want to provide. We shall also do our best to assess any animal before it is placed in your care so that we get the best match. During the fostering period itself, you will be in regular contact via Messenger conversation with key members of the Les Amis team so that you feel supported and they can help if any advice is needed.
The exact requirements for foster homes vary constantly to suit the specific animal but here are some basic guidelines.
This includes health care, feeding, grooming, exercising, petting time and playtime. We take care of all veterinary fees.
If you have taken a dog for urgent sterilisation, or even have this done as part of the fostering process, you will also carry out the post-operative care. This is generally straightforward – dogs and cats recover far faster than humans from these interventions.
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.
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 or cat through various social media, and vet all potential new homes. You can help us by giving us further information regarding the animal’s character as you get to know it.
Length of Stay
This depends on the situation for you and the animal 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 or, in the case of a cat, returned to the refuge safely. 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 an animal when it is not convenient for you.
However, before you foster, there are some points to consider because it can mean changes in your household routine. It also means more time and energy, and possibly an adjustment in your family’s life.
- 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 Animal: If you are interested in puppy or kitten fostering, your experience will be very different to getting an older dog or cat. 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 neo-nates.
- Adoption: Will you be able to let the foster animal 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 or cat 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 animal in their care!
If you understand animals and have the time, energy and space in your heart, it’s a great service to become a foster home.
If you are interested and would like to chat with someone, please phone 07 85 40 20 69 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.