We always encourage our volunteers to foster pets as a way to contribute their time. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, fostering is more important than ever.
Fostering pets during coronavirus is also a great way to give back to the community while we can’t hold volunteer events in person.
Shelters like the Austin Animal Center and Austin Pets Alive! depend on volunteers to feed, socialize, and exercise the cats and dogs. While the shelters are closed to the public and volunteers are unable to help out, shelters have become incredibly reliant on fosters to help take care of all of their pets.
The Benefits of Fostering a Pet
Besides contributing to shelters and earning volunteer hours, fostering during the COVID-19 crisis can be great for other reasons. Fostering a dog, especially, can be a great way to get outside and stay active during shelter-in-place. For me personally, getting to roam around with my foster dog Delilah every day has helped keep me sane!
Marian’s foster dog, Delilah: “Delilah is an absolute angel! A super snuggly, quiet, chill dog, perfect for a first-time dog owner or someone in an apartment.” Reach out to Marian for more info!
Other reasons YWA members have chosen to foster:
- It’s an opportunity to have a pet around without the long-term commitment.
- A dog or cat can be a great companion during this time of isolation.
- It’s a great way to contribute despite not being able to leave the house.
Fostering can also bring personal fulfillment during a difficult time for a lot of people. YWA foster Pamela says she enjoys making “a positive difference in a dog’s shelter life, even if it’s temporary.”
Pam’s foster dog Lillian: “Lillian is a complete sweetheart and is up for adoption.” Reach out to Pam for more info!
YWA foster Laura says, “It’s the best feeling to be able to let a dog run around in my yard or take him out on a walk and let him roam around without being scared or anxious.”
Besides giving back to the Austin community, you can also feel good about knowing you’ve made a shelter pet more comfortable and happy during their transition from the shelter to their new home.
Tips for Your First Foster
Fostering can be intimidating at first, but there are tons of resources and tips out there to make it easier. The number one piece of advice YWA fosters Pam and Laura would give to first-time fosters is to be patient. Pam says to give your pet time to warm up to you:
“Don’t feel defeated if the dog does not assimilate into your household immediately.”
Laura provided a helpful rule of three: “It takes a dog three days to decompress and relax from the stress of the shelter, three weeks to realize they live with you and start to understand your/their routine, and three months for them to fully settle in.”
It can be daunting to see a shelter pet be nervous and uncomfortable in your home, even when you know it’s going to be ok, so be patient and give them time to settle in.
YWA foster Lindsay also suggests starting with cats, even if you’re a dog person. “Cats are so much easier to foster than dogs,” she says, because they’re “small, adorable, playful, independent, and know how to use a litter box.”
Lindsay’s foster kittens: Gustavo, Graham, Greta, and Gertrude
Other Ways to Give Back to Shelters
Even if you don’t think fostering is right for you, there are other ways to give back to local animal shelters during the COVID-19 crisis. APA volunteer Kathryn suggests getting involved remotely — certain activities like writing profiles for shelter animals, cutting up towels for the dogs, or making leashes can be done from your home.