While some homeless dogs and cats eventually find caring families, there are many who do not get adopted right away.
To help solve this problem, you can volunteer as a pet foster parent.
As a foster parent, you may care for an animal for one day or one month, depending on the time it takes for the animal to be permanently adopted.
Joe Mattes of Park Ridge has years of experience caring for animals that need foster care.
His most recent foster named Meko was just adopted by a family in Wisconsin.
He went into fostering with no experience, although he knew that he was partial to the Border Collie breed. He learned of Midwest Border Collie Rescue (MWBCR) and found that he could foster a dog and also help fundraise for the organization.
What pet foster parents should expect
While being a pet foster parent has been incredibly gratifying, Mattes says it can be a challenge helping the pet adjust.
“Some come in and feel right at home and some won’t eat for a day or two,” Mattes says. “I like to leave the leash on my foster for the first day since I don’t know what will startle the dog.”
If you already own a dog and you’re considering taking in a foster dog, Mattes believes that it helps for both dogs to meet on neutral territory so neither dog is immediately defensive.
“Some dogs get along right away and some might take days or weeks. It really depends on how much socialization each dog has had,” Mattes says.
A first fostering experience
Mattes’ first foster had a hard time adjusting. She was a 10-year-old Border Collie named Mollie who MWBCR rescued from a puppy mill.
“My pets and I spent months trying to help her learn to trust again,” Mattes says. “With a dog like that, the little things become big steps, like having her take a treat from your hand.”
“Fostering a dog can be both difficult and easy, but it’s always rewarding knowing that you helped save one more dog,” Mattes says. “Giving an animal the chance to catch a ball, go for a walk or even receive a hug are excellent reasons to foster.”
Ways to learn about pet foster care include:
Attending a pet expo, such as the Chicagoland Family Pet Expo.
Talking to other people who have fostered pets and learn about their experiences.