Q: How does it work?
A: Once you’re an approved foster parent (see below) you are “on standby” for whenever we have animals in need of care. When an animal that meets your criteria needs a place to go, a VHS team member will contact you. They’ll set up a time for you to stop by the shelter, pick up the animals and all the supplies you need, and take them home. You will sign a foster agreement, care for the animals for the designated amount of time, and bring them back when instructed!
Q: How much does it cost?
A: Fostering is 100% FREE! VHS provides all food, medication, supplies, and toys for animals in foster care. If you run out, simply stop by the shelter and we will provide more. All you provide is space, transportation, and lots of love!
Q: How much work & time is really involved?
A: Fostering is on YOUR schedule! Animals will typically be in your care anywhere from 2 weeks to 8 weeks, depending on their ages and needs. Whenever they are ready to come back to the shelter, you simply bring them back - and then you can take home different animals if you wish! If there is a family emergency, you can always arrange to bring the animals back to the shelter so they can be placed with another foster family. Going on vacation? No problem! Just wait and let us know when you’re ready to bring someone home.
Most of the time, all that’s required for your foster animals is feeding them, cleaning their living areas, and lots of love. Administering routine medication is sometimes needed, but our staff will always walk you through those details prior to taking the animal(s) home.
Q: Can I foster if I have other animals?
A: Absolutely! We just have two conditions.
- Your own pets must be spayed or neutered and up-to-date on their annual vaccinations.
- You should have a separate space to house the animals, such as a spare bedroom, bathroom, or finished basement. It needs to have an actual door that can close so the animals can’t interact with one another (gates or fencing is not sufficient for this.) Separating fosters from your own pets is necessary in case the foster animal may have an illness that could be contagious to your pet. Many viruses have an incubation period where the animal may still appear healthy, but could be contagious. We recommend keeping fosters separate from your pets for a minimum of 14 days.
After that isolation period, if everyone is in good health and getting along well, you can let your foster animals play with your pets so they get extra socialization! It helps us counsel future adopters if we know that an animal did well with certain types of other animals in their foster home.
Q: Do I have to live in Evansville/Vanderburgh County?
A: No! Anyone can foster from anywhere. But keep in mind that you are responsible for transporting your fosters to & from the shelter as needed. Sometimes this can be on short notice or multiple times a month for re-vaccination. Be aware of your own situation and schedule. It may not be practical to foster certain types of animals (for example, a litter of very young kittens) if you live an hour away and can’t reach us quickly in an emergency.
Q: I have human kids at home. Is that okay?
A: Absolutely! Fostering is a great way to help your family learn about the responsibilities of taking care of a pet, without committing to adopting an animal for its lifetime. Thinking of getting a cat? Foster a nursing mom with a litter of kittens first, to see how the kids like scooping a litterbox! Are you considering adopting a dog? Take home one that needs a little work with housetraining or manners, and get the whole family on board with the amount of time it takes to train and play with a dog!
Q: Most commonly asked question: “What if we get too attached?”
A: The concern we hear most often is, “I can’t foster, I’d get attached! I wouldn’t be able to let them go!” But it’s easier than you think. If you adopted the first animal you ever foster, then you’ll be the permanent owner of (and financially responsible for) that animal for the next 20+ years. While you may have saved that one’s life, your house is now full... And you may not have any more room to foster again. That means you’d be missing out on saving HUNDREDS of animals in the future. For every animal you foster and send to VHS to find their new homes, you are saving not only their life but the life of the animal who will enter your home after them. It’s such a rewarding experience!