Thank you for considering becoming a foster parent for ARF Ontario!
Please watch the following video and read the information below. This will help provide a basic outline of the responsibilities associated with fostering.
Please realize that these animals are rescued in the true sense of the word and they need your commitment and care to see them through to their permanent homes.
Once you have decided that you do in fact wish to volunteer as an ARF foster home, please complete either the canine foster home application form (link) or the feline foster home application form (link).
Primary responsibilities of foster homes
Following are some examples of when you may be asked to do some driving relating to your foster:
- Initial pick-up of the animal (e.g. from an ARF volunteer’s home OR an ARF holding area), sometimes on short notice.
- To/from vet appointments, as required. Our vets are located in London (for kittens/puppies under 5 months) and Strathroy (all animals 5 months and older).
- To/from adoption events. These are typically held on weekends.
Socialization, care, and observation of the animal.
When we first receive an animal, he/she is placed in a “holding area” to first assess their health. From here, the animal is placed in a foster home. If the animal has not been fully vaccinated, please minimize contact with other cats or dogs.
For foster dogs, crates are provided and we strongly encourage our foster homes to use them. Foster dogs specifically should be kept on your property and away from off-leash parks, especially during the initial 14 day quarantine period. This two week period of time allows us to evaluate the dog’s health and behavior. Please supervise the dog carefully when in your yard to prevent any attempts to escape.
ARF deworms, vaccinates, alters, and microchips all animals prior to adoption. Your foster home support team will book all necessary appointments for you and provide you with information regarding deworming schedules. All medical care is provided by ARF.
Training your foster.
Training of ARF fosters will be done using POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT methods ONLY. ARF does not use any training devices (i.e. choke collars, spray bottles, noise makers,) or any form of force training (i.e. alpha role, muzzle grabs).
Canine foster homes are encouraged to attend the classes our trainer conducts in order to learn more about positive training and its beneficial, long term effects on the behavioural health of the dogs. Our trainer is always available to help you learn more about training.
Communicating with your team.
While you are fostering an ARF animal, you may expect to receive calls or emails from more than one ARF volunteer. Note that we have many areas of responsibility throughout ARF and volunteers may be contacting you at various times as part of their responsibilities (i.e. regarding website listings, adoption events, appointments, adoptions, and so on).
Adoption of the animal.
ARF has a network in place which will ensure that all dogs and cats find a loving, adoptive home. All applications coming into the adoption coordinator are screened. If an applicant is deemed suitable for your foster, you will be sent their information so that a telephone discussion and adoption meeting can be scheduled.
It is VERY important for foster homes to be available by phone and/or e-mail to ARF’s adoption coordinators during the adoption process. Also, being prompt with returning calls/e-mail to potential adopters is important to the ultimate goal of placing the animals in their forever homes, while also maintaining ARF’s responsible image.
In all cases, when you meet the potential adopter, it is important to try and determine if the dog or cat would be a good match for the home and vice versa. We encourage you to do additional screening, once the adopter comes to see your foster in your home. As the foster parent, you have a lot of input as to who the new guardian of your foster will be.
Once you have approved the new owner of the foster, the potential adopter must wait 24 hours to pick up the animal. As well, an adoption contract (and a training contract for dogs) must be completed. This should be filled out together with the adopter to ensure agreement on all points. The adoption fee and completed forms are then delivered to ARF or picked up by ARF.
Commonly Asked Questions
ARF foster homes have access to a wonderful support group of veteran Foster Homes and General Volunteers. You are able to email or call those who will assist you with any questions you have during your foster experience.
Here are some commonly asked questions about fostering:
If you are a first time foster home – plan NOT to adopt your first foster. It is best to go through the fostering process once, send the animal to their new home, and then save another life. Once you’ve let the first one go, the process becomes much easier. However, if you do feel with your second foster (or any after the first) that this might be the one that is meant to stay in your forever home, please contact the adoption coordinator and go through the adoption interview BEFORE she has begun interviewing other potential homes.
This really varies. ALL animals are in the ARF system for a minimum of 14 days. After the initial two weeks, you and the Foster Home Support Team/Adoption Coordinator decide if the animal is ready for it’s new home. The animal should have basic training completed before going to a new home. A cat should be using the litter box 100% of the time, and a dog should be house-trained.
On average, kittens and puppies remain in foster care for three weeks. Fosters over 5 months are generally in foster care for up to three months.
Always let the Foster Home Support Team know about any vacation plans BEFORE the animal is placed in your home. Possibly, you will be a temporary spot before animal goes to a different foster home, or we will simply wait until you return to get you your next foster animal. If you have a long-term foster animal, contact the sitters on your list (i.e. for a cat to be checked daily) or contact your Foster Home Support Team to discuss the possibility of temporary transfer to a different foster home.
A weekend away does not really qualify for a full foster switch, so you do have the option of arranging care through fellow volunteers directly or to pay for the bordatella shot in the animal and then pay for the boarding facility or professional pet sitter.
ARF always provides the commercial pet food and the brands depend upon what we have donated. If you are not happy with the donated food, then you are allowed to purchase the brand you prefer at your own expense.
Emergency vet care, thankfully, is very rare. In the case of a life threatening emergency, please contact the Foster Home Support Team immediately.
Every single animal that arrives in our care will have some form of intestinal worms. NO you cannot get them, and NO your resident animal will not get them. The worms are given through the consumption of a “carrier” which would be i.e. a bird or mouse.
The animal has almost always been dewormed once before it arrives so expect to see a couple of icky poops. A second deworming usually happens two weeks later and again, some ickies may appear. These dogs and cats were STRAYS living outdoors, so of course there is the risk of external parasites such as fleas. Be ready to give the animal a bath when it arrives at your home. Call/e-mail your Foster Home Support Team for assurance that you will not faint and all will be well.
Before accepting any animal think long and hard about the commitment you are agreeing to. A move from a foster home is very stressful on the animal and a lot of work for your fellow volunteers. PLEASE try to persevere until a permanent home is found. If there is just no way you can continue (i.e. if there has been an aggressive incident, which is rare) please contact your Foster Home Support Team to discuss. It will be your responsibility to transfer the animal to the new spot unless there is danger in doing so.
All vet appointments are arranged through the Foster Home Support Team. All vetting is done at either the East Village Animal Hospital or the Strathroy Animal Clinic. All veterinary care is provided by ARF.
Absolutely! However, all ARF supplies (i.e. all essential supplies given to you by ARF) must remains as such. If you decide to leave the Foster Home program, all supplies must be returned to us.
Yes. Dogs MUST be crated when unsupervised. Puppies must be crate trained before their adoption. Any damage done in the home is your responsibility – crate training makes damage much, much less likely. A crate is provided to you at ARF’s expense.
No. If you are in need of any necessary supplies for your foster (i.e. food, litter, crate, collar, etc.) please speak to the Foster Home Support Team to see what is available. Any extra purchases you choose will be at your own expense (and many tail wags are always the reward!)