• Fostering

    Foster carers are invaluable to rescues and animals alike, providing a temporary home to animals that may not have anywhere else to go.

    The demand for rescue places is tremendous. Too many pets are being abandoned and there is often, simply, nowhere for them to go. It is a constant struggle for rescues to provide the temporary housing capacity needed for animals in urgent need and for those who an available rescue placement cannot be found many face euthanasia.

    Many of the animal rescues we work with are small home-based rescues that rely on foster homes to provide accommodation for the animals in their care. However, fosterers also play an important role in helping many of the larger rescues who also use other facilities (kennels, catteries, e.t.c).

    So How Does Fostering Work?

    Prior to any animal going into foster care they are assessed carefully to determine the environment in which they would be best suited. If the animal needs additional training or behavioural support this is taken into consideration and a set of criteria that would most benefit them in an 'ideal' foster placement is determined.

    Before an animal is placed into a foster home a questionnaire is completed by the prospective carers, and a home check carried out to assess the compatibility of the potential foster home and foster pet.

    It is worth bearing in mind that this process is deliberately thorough. Animal Lifeline UK assists rescues in finding potential foster carers but the responsibility for evaluating the suitability of foster home for specific animals lies solely with the rescues themselves. ALUK does not 'pass' or 'fail' applications.

    Although most animals come into rescue through no fault of their own many have very specific requirements. As a result not all foster homes and animals will be compatible. If you are unsure it is always worthwhile contacting the rescue directly for an informal discussion to find out if your home and lifestyle are likely to be a suitable match.

    Careful pairing of foster carers and their charges helps to ensure:

    • Foster carers are well-prepared and know what to expect when their foster pet arrives
    • The safety of all people and animals in the household
    • The needs of all involved are met
    • The experience is rewarding for both the animal and foster carers

    When a suitable match is found a foster agreement, stipulating the terms and conditions of the foster placement, is then signed.

    Who is Responsible for the Foster Animal?

    This is a very important question.

    Ownership of the foster pet and overall responsibility lies with the animal rescue itself.

    Financially, rescues usually cover the cost of veterinary treatment and most consumables, though many fosterers often like to cover the cost of everyday essentials (such as food, treats and litter) themselves. They will not, however, pay for your time, rent or costs related to household bills. If you need additional equipment then do check with the rescue first to make sure they are happy to reimburse those costs. They may even have spare items they can loan for use by your foster pet, and of course it is always worth placing a 'wanted' ad on communities such as Freegle (http://www.ilovefreegle.org/) and the Animal Lifeline UK forum. You'd be surprised at what people are willing to donate!

    Do read through the fostering agreement carefully and discuss with the rescue their protocols for such things as setting up an account with your local vet, dealing with emergencies, reimbursement of expenses, e.t.c. It is also worth checking if the rescue has up-to-date liability insurance in place for third party injury or damage. Some rescues do, many do not.

    As a foster carer you will be responsible for the day-to-day care of the animal, ensuring they have access to:

    • A safe, stimulating and loving environment
    • Plenty of clean water and a suitable, good quality, diet
    • Veterinary care, both for preventative treatment and to treat disease or injury
    • A warm, comfortable shelter, or otherwise suitable habitat, in which to live
    • Express 'normal' behaviour without the fear of pain or punishment

    I've read on your forum that pound dogs can't be fostered. Why is that?

    Pound dogs spend a minimum of seven days in kennels but their history and background before this is usually unknown.

    It is not uncommon for the behaviour of dogs to be very different when taken out of kennels and placed in a home environment. Some dogs become less stressed, while others may react to people or situations they may or may not be familiar with.

    Is is important, therefore, for the safety or the dog, the foster family and existing pets in the home that the pound dog be fully assessed by a qualified or otherwise trained and experienced professional in a controlled environment before placed into foster care. This allows the rescue to determine the type of foster home that would best suit the dog and avoids putting anyone at unnecessary risk.

    Pound dogs are also normally 'quarantined' for a period of time (normally around two weeks) to ensure they are free from any signs of disease or illness. Once assessed and given a health check and first vaccination by a veterinary surgeon these dogs can go on to be fostered as normal.

    So why Foster?


    • Allows rescues to help more animals who would otherwise be at risk of euthanasia
    • Gives an animal a break from kennels and allows them to have a little extra TLC
    • Aids socialisation and training
    • Helps to free up valuable rescue spaces for other animals
    • Is incredibly rewarding!

    If you have space in your home and your life for a foster animal please contact us.

    E-mail us at: [email protected]

    You can view details of just some of the animals in need of foster homes on our forum by clicking here: 'Foster Homes Needed'

    Offers of foster help can also be made on the ALUK forum here: 'Rescue Help Offered'

    Join Animal Lifeline UK today by clicking here and help us to save more animals:

  • Foster a Pet