There are so many benefits of having animals in a foster home rather than a shelter. The biggest factor is space, the more animals in foster homes, the more open runs in a shelter. This means more animals can be accepted into the shelter and more animals adopted out, equaling more lives saved overall. Space is the hottest commodity in animal rescue.
In addition to freeing up space to save more animals, fostering gives animals valuable home experience. Shelters are a high stress environment that tends to bring out negative behaviors. It is difficult for an animal to thrive in even the nicest of shelters. Many animals will become withdrawn, reactive, or even sick facing such an overstimulating setting. It is difficult to show well to potential adopters when an animal is constantly in survival mode.
In a home, it starts with a much quieter atmosphere. There are less animals, less noises, less smells, and less human traffic. They can gain experience with a few people and other animals at a slower pace. Dogs can get acclimated to
schedules and housetraining. They can learn
basic commands, leash walking, and get more mental and physical stimulation. Foster parents often have more time to spend with them, so if a bad habit is detected, it can be worked with early on. It familiarizes them to noises such as doorbells, vacuums, blenders, etc.
Less mental stress means less physical stress. Animals that are sensitive to external stimuli will sometimes develop allergies or hot spots from licking at themselves. Cats in group settings are very sensitive to upper respiratory infections, which starts with one stressed cat and spreads like wildfire throughout the population. In a foster home environment, these problems are often less severe or do not appear at all.
Animals in shelters are often just numbers and faces unfortunately. Even if a dog or cat is an owner surrender, the shelter or rescue may have little to no information on them. Being in a home not only allows the animal to show its true colors, but the foster gathers a wealth of information to assist in placing the animal in an appropriate home. There are never any guarantees when adopting any animal, but the more time spent and information gathered, the better they can be portrayed and described to potential adopters.
Any animal will benefit from foster, especially in open intake facilities. More specific cases might include a mom and nursing pups, an animal recovering or preparing for surgery, a diabetic animal that needs insulin at specific times a day, or a single animal that prefers human company rather than other animals. Some animals may need a separate space from animals in the home, while some are free to romp with the pack. Speaking to your local shelter and starting the conversation about fostering will help find an appropriate match for your home and lifestyle. Fostering takes some work, but it is greatly outweighed by the rewards.