Questions about fostering? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Because Home is Where Everyone Fits
Shelters can be a terrifying place. So a frightened dog cowers and growls in the corner of his shelter cage. A dog who has never known human kindness snaps in a frantic attempt to save himself from a stranger’s hand. A dog who is used to going hungry is protective of his food. For a shelter dog, not fitting in in these totally understandable ways can leave you “unadoptable” and facing a death sentence. But at Indigo Rescue, we know that, in the right home, everyone fits. In our loving foster homes, our dogs learn that people can be good. Rather than seeing danger in a strangers hand, they learn to relish the warm embrace of a human that makes them feel safe. They learn that they can count of their families to provide. They get healthy. They gain confidence. And they learn the manners and behavior that it takes to be a good family member. You can’t accomplish this in an institutional setting, that’s why our foster families are the backbone of our work. Indigo provides the game plan, medical care and the individualized support, but our fosters provide the HOME—that very special place where everyone can learn to fit.
The Foster Process
When the county shelter is full and is forced to make the difficult decision to make space by euthanizing potentially adoptable dogs, they call us. These animals are injured, sick, or failing in the shelter environment for various reasons. We are often the only option for saving their lives, and we can only do it if we can find an appropriate foster home. This is when we send an S.O.S. email to our volunteer and foster network list.
We usually have only limited information about the dogs in need, which generally includes a guess at the breed or breed-mix, an age estimate, a very general temperament and health assessment, and maybe, if we are lucky, social skills with other dogs and cats. Our goal is to match foster families with dogs that will fit their unique household dynamic.
The duration of a fostering commitment can vary depending on multiple factors. For some dogs, we might find a new home within only a few weeks. For others with more complicated issues, it may be many months, especially for special needs and senior dogs. We ask that our foster families make plans to keep the animal until it can be placed in a forever home, to save the animal from unnecessary trauma. We also have need for fosters who are willing to open their homes to dogs in hospice care—to give them the love and attention they deserve in their final months.
We also ask that the foster family bring the dog to our weekly adoption events for at least two hours so potential adopters can meet them. If a potential adopter inquires about the dog between outreach dates, we may work with you to coordinate another time to do a private meet. Indigo Rescue does all of the screening of potential adopters and delivers the dog to the new home. The foster family has input in helping us decide which home/situation is best for the dog. If the foster family has a friend or family member who is interested in possibly adopting the dog, they can refer them to our application process and mention that they know the dog through the foster family. They will need to meet the adoption criteria for that dog, in the same way anyone else would.
When you foster with us, you can be assured that our most important task is to find a forever home that is right for the animal—not just the adopter. We are very picky about adoptive homes, and take great care to ensure that adoptive families are prepared to meet the specific needs of the animal. Our screening process looks not only at the current circumstances under which the animal is adopted but also takes into account the adopters history and care of other companion animals.
Once we have a commitment from a new foster, we coordinate delivering the dog to its foster home, and assist in helping everyone settle in together. It usually takes a few days for the foster and the dog to enter a routine, and there are always little glitches. We will provide support to help you with the transition, and provide on-going support to help you help the dog learn to be a good family member. If, however, after a few days you feel it is not a good fit, we will move the dog to a new home. After decades of doing this work, we know that all dogs just don’t fit in all homes! There will always be other dogs who will, so we will keep you in our foster network.
If the dog needs any medical attention, Indigo Rescue schedules the vet visit with our vet, and pays the bill. The foster brings the dog in for the needed appointment. The foster family usually buys food, toys, and other daily necessities. We can provide crates, collars, harnesses and leashes. We require foster families to keep their foster dog safe at all times. This generally means inside and crated if necessary when left alone, and NEVER left unattended in the back yard. If your assigned dog is one of our infamous “Door Darters,” you will be given additional instructions on how to keep him safe. Indigo handles the adoption process in its entirety. When the dogs are ready to be placed, we post them on petfinder.com. Input from the foster family is invaluable to this process because it is the foster who can tell us crucial details about the dog’s temperament, likes, dislikes and idiosyncrasies. This is the foundation of the process by which we match an animal with a forever home where it can thrive.
Although it might not sound like it, Foster “Failure” is not only a common reality but a perfectly happy occurrence when it happens! Nobody knows when or with whom they will fall in love, and if that happens between you and your foster animal, Congratulations! We are happy for you. In fact, we’ve all been there! If you choose to adopt your foster, you’ll fill out the adoption application and follow the same process as everyone else on your way to forever parenthood.