Many homeless pets in shelters or rescue groups need foster homes to provide medication, help with socialization, or just provide an extension of shelter space. Foster homes are needed more than ever in this economy to give wonderful adoptable pets just a little more time to find their forever homes.
How do you find a steady stream of new foster parents? Think of ways you can make it easier to foster pets in terms of the expense and a smooth transition into the foster home. Following are ten ideas, many of which are similar to what you might use to find permanent homes.
Offer to provide food and veterinary services for fostered pets. Some groups provide medical services but not food.
Set up offsite meet and greet events for pets needing foster homes. We frequently see offsite adoption events. Why not use the same technique for foster pets? Have printed information on hand to explain how your foster program works.
Involve kids in your community to help with your foster program. For example, kids can help raise funds for medical expenses and food for foster pets.
Ask kids to use social networking to spread the word to their friends on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.
Ask your local newspaper and/or TV station to tell your story. Be specific. How many pets need foster homes? Have you lost foster parents due to the economy, etc. Sometimes these pets need special help with medication for a while, or maybe the foster pets are tiny puppies which need to be bottle fed every few hours. Explain the needs and show photos or video of the pets. They will be their own best “salespeople.”
Ask for foster families in your print and/or email newsletters.
Ask businesses and other organizations in your community to ask for foster families in their newsletters. You’ll reach a new group of people who will then forward email to their friends and colleagues.
Try to arrange for one volunteer or group of volunteers to focus specifically on finding more foster homes. Communicate with foster parents about their ideas for finding more homes. Ask each foster parent to involve their animal loving friends in the foster program.
Include information on fostering on your website, such as a FAQ page, explaining requirements of the foster family, how expenses for food and medical needs will be handled, whether a foster family will receive visits from the shelter or rescue group, etc. Also explain that fostering a pet can be a good way for many families to decide if they want a pet full time. Make sure your rules for fostering allow for a trial period and a clear explanation of the procedure if a fostered pet doesn’t work out for the foster home. Think of all the reasons why people don’t want to foster pets and try to answer those questions and concerns upfront.
Feature your foster pet of the week on your website’s home page and link to a “pets looking for foster homes” page, complete with photos and videos. Tell each pet’s story, ie., how he arrived at your shelter or rescue group, how long he’s been there, why he needs fostering, etc. Include any information you know about each pet, such as how well he gets along with other pets.