Volunteer Puppy Parents: Foster Care for Rescue Dogs


shutterstock_435132592Taking Care of Puppies Is a Fun Way to Help Homeless Animals!

Did you know that foster care isn’t just for children? That’s right! If you love puppies and have a passion for animal rescue, then being a foster parent to homeless puppies is a great way to give back to the community and get lots of sweet puppy cuddles.

Why Do Rescue Groups Need Foster Parents?

An animal shelter can be a tough place for a mother dog with newborn puppies. Most shelters tend to be noisy and a little crowded at times, and many don’t have enough extra space to provide a dog with the privacy and quiet she needs when she gives birth and nurses her puppies.

In addition, puppies that are born and raised in shelters are at risk for contracting parvo, which is a highly contagious virus that is often fatal. Vaccinated adult dogs have immunity to the dangerous disease, but puppies are vulnerable during the time when they are weaned and receiving their puppy shots.

Even the cleanest shelters may have occasional episodes of parvo exposure due to their intake of homeless dogs, many of which have never been vaccinated. Rescue groups that raise puppies in their shelter facilities have much higher puppy mortality rates than organizations that utilize a foster care system for rearing puppies.

Every rescue group wants to prepare their animals for forever homes, and socializing animals is an important part of that process. Puppies that are raised in the loving environment of a foster home generally have much more human interaction than shelter puppies receive, and they usually have easier transitions when they are adopted.

What Does a Puppy Foster Parent Do?

Foster care programs vary among shelters, but they all have similarities. There are two main types of foster care programs for puppies, and they are usually determined by the timing of the puppies’ rescue.

When an animal shelter receives a rescued pregnant dog, they often seek a foster parent to provide a temporary home for the dog prior to her giving birth. In these cases, the foster parent will nurture the dog throughout her pregnancy and provide a loving environment for her to give birth. The foster parent will then care for the mother and her puppies, at least until the puppies are weaned. This type of puppy foster care is generally the longest in duration.

The sad reality of animal rescue is that puppies are often dumped as an entire litter just after they are weaned because a dog owner does not want to incur the time or expense to feed and rehome the pups. When that happens, animal shelters often place the puppies in foster care until they weigh enough to be safely spayed or neutered.

In the rescue world, spaying and neutering is done as early as possible, and many vets will perform the surgery earlier for rescue pups than they will for pets. Foster puppies typically gain weight at a much faster rate than puppies living in a shelter, which means they become eligible for adoption much sooner too.

What Things Will I Need to Become a Foster Parent?

To be a great puppy foster parent, you need four things: a safe space for puppies to live; a vehicle for hauling puppies; extra time for puppy care; and lots and lots of love. Your rescue organization will usually provide your feed and supplies, but you need a space where you can completely separate your puppies from your other pets. You don’t want to risk any cross-contamination issues.

Your rescue group will also provide vet care for your pups, but they will probably expect you to transport the puppies to their shelter facility or their vet’s office for vaccinations, health checks, spay/neuter, etc. These appointments normally take place during regular business hours, so you want to make sure you will be available to include puppy transport in your work and/or parenting schedule.

What about My Pets?

You definitely want to consider your pets’ needs before you commit to becoming a puppy foster parent. If your pet has health issues or is exceptionally jealous, fostering may not be the best choice for you.

Even though your foster animals should be segregated from your family pets, you have to consider the amount of time it will take you to care for your foster puppies. Foster parenting duties include feeding, cleaning, and socializing; and the additional workload will directly impact your availability to your pets. You know your pets’ needs better than anyone, so ultimately, you are the only one who can make the decision.

What If I Become Too Attached to My Foster Puppies?

Puppies are adorable, and it’s impossible not to develop a bond with puppies that you raise in your home. The job of a foster parent is to ready the puppies for adoption, and you have to mentally prepare yourself for the fact that your relationship with the puppies will be temporary.

Some foster parents avoid giving their foster puppies names because they say it helps them feel less attached to the pups. Another helpful technique is to try to match your foster puppies with loving forever homes. Your rescue group will be grateful, and your involvement in the adoption process will comfort you when it’s time for the puppies to leave. Many adopting parents like to share pictures and updates with their new pet’s rescue organization, so you may get the opportunity to track your foster puppies’ progress!

Sign Me Up!

Is there anything in this world as cute and sweet as a puppy? They are so innocent and so vulnerable, and homeless puppies rely on the kindness of strangers to survive.

Volunteering to be a puppy foster parent is a big commitment, but the payoff is huge! Not only will you get an endless supply of puppy kisses, but you will also have the satisfaction of knowing you made a positive difference in the world. If you have room in your home and in your heart to care for homeless puppies, call your local animal shelter and find out how you can become a foster parent!

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Jennifer Bryan

    January 16, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    I would love to do this

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top