Fostering for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay
WHAT IS THE FOSTER CARE PROGRAM?
In some cases, animals that are surrendered to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay (HSTB) are too young, too small or have health needs that make them unavailable for immediate adoption. In 1997, the HSTB decided to do something about this dilemma by introducing our Foster Care Program. Whenever feasible, these animals will be sent to temporary foster homes until they can be recommended for adoption. If we didn’t have foster homes, these animals may be euthanized. The more foster homes we have, the more lives can be saved.
WHO WOULD MAKE A GOOD FOSTER PARENT?
Anyone who cares about animals and is willing to donate their time and provide lots of tender love and care would make a good foster parent. Retirees, homemakers, people who work at home or have flexible work schedules all would be good candidates for this program.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS?
In order to be a foster parent, you must:
- be over 18 years of age
- have an extra room or space in your home to keep foster animals separate from your pets
- Must make return visits as required for your foster pet(s)
- should have all personal pets up to date on all vaccinations and examinations
After you have completed the Foster Care Application and Foster Care Survey you will be contacted so we can answer all questions you may have and give you an orientation to our program. Once approved, you will sign the Foster Care Agreement and at this time your name will be placed on our Foster Parent List. We never know when a particular type pet will be brought to our shelter, so please keep in mind it may be weeks or months before we have a pet or pets for you to foster.
Once you have fostered a cat or dog, we will ask you to fill out an information sheet about your fosterling to help us prepare them for adoption. The forms can be downloaded here:
WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
You can expect a lot of work, as fostering is not an easy job. On the other hand, we feel there is no job as rewarding as the one you are about to undertake. This job comes with unlimited benefits in the form of licks, cuddles, purrs, and lots of love from your fosterling. You and your family can expect to fall in love with your little charges, and you might have a hard time letting them go. Please remember that our goal in this program is to get these pets out of the foster home and back into the shelter where they will find their forever home. Without our foster parents, this would not be possible. In the event that you have any acquaintances interested in adopting the animal, we ask that you contact our adoption manager. Please refer them directly to the shelter for all information after you have returned your fosterling.
WHAT COSTS ARE INVOLVED?
The Humane Society will provide food and supplies for foster animals. Any food or supplies you can provide yourself is greatly appreciated.
Veterinarian care should be at a minimum. Any vet care necessary should be cleared through the Foster Care Coordinator. Normally, the veterinarian at the shelter will be able to assist in any necessary care; however, if you should desire to use your own veterinarian, you would do so at your own expense. Vaccinations and deworming will have been provided for the pet before it leaves the shelter to be fostered. If further vaccines or treatment are necessary, your Foster Care Coordinator will inform you when to return with the pet for the care.
WHAT SUPPLIES WILL I NEED?
1. Their Room:
The Humane Society will supply a crate upon request. If you wish to leave the animals in a room without a crate, you will need to completely pet-proof this room. Make sure there are no exposed electrical wires. Also, check for any plants that may be poisonous. Cleaning supplies, laundry detergents, bleach, paint, paint thinner, pesticides, fertilizers, antifreeze, disinfectants, mothballs, roach poison, ant poison, rat poison, and medications are just a few of the items that can be deadly to an animal.
Dry kitten or puppy food is recommended for puppies and kittens six (6) weeks or older. You may want to moisten the kittens’ food with water for the first week or so. If you will be fostering any nursing Moms, dry puppy or kitten food is best for Mom, too, as she needs plenty of nutrition during this time. Once the nursing is over, adult dry food should be given. If you choose to purchase food, please read labels carefully for all adult food. Be sure the food label states “balanced” and “complete.” We recommend a quality pet food.
Kittens (not nursing) and adult cats: Leave fresh dry food out each day, all day, and always make sure they have plenty of fresh water. Also, keep a separate bowl of canned food for specific feeding times.
Puppies (not nursing) and adult dogs: Feed a puppy at regular meal times, as much as he/she wants. Pick up the food after 15 minutes. Adult dogs should be fed the appropriate amount indicated on the packaging, morning and night. Always be sure they have plenty of fresh water available.
3. Specific Cat or Kitten Supplies
Litter Box and Litter: You can purchase a litter box or check with the shelter, since we sometimes may be able to provide one. If not, the shelter will provide a disposable alternative.
A Cat Bed: A bed can be made out of a roomy shoebox. Line the box with an old cushion or with any soft washable material. We also may have available washable beds for use.
Toys: Kittens will play with anything that moves. Choose safe toys that cannot be splintered, torn apart or swallowed. A hard rubber toy that rattles, a ping-pong ball, an empty wooden thread spool, an unshelled walnut, a cardboard toilet paper tube, a large paper bag, or a catnip toy are all safe for a kitten. Do not give kittens a ball of string or yarn, spools of thread, rubber bands, balls of aluminum foil or cellophane, corks or wire twist ties. Nothing with hard, sharp points that can be broken off should ever be available to them. Be wary of toys that can break and be careful not to give them anything small enough to swallow (like buttons, beads, or paperclips). Keep all plastic bags away and out of the room. They can become trapped inside and easily suffocate.
4. Specific Dog or Puppy Supplies:
Bed: Be sure that the puppies or dogs have an area inside their crate or in their room that is covered with soft towels and/or blankets.
Toys: Be sure to give your puppy his own toys and chewable items. Do not give a dog or puppy anything made of rawhide, as it may become lodged in his/her throat. Choose nylon chews, hard rubber toys, or items with squeakers that cannot be torn off or swallowed (remember that puppy teeth are sharp and can pierce things you would not necessarily consider penetrable).
HOW DO I GO ABOUT PICKING UP MY FOSTERLING?
When the need for a foster home arises, you will be contacted. At this time you may pass or accept. If you accept, an appointment will be made for you to pick up the fosterling at the receiving entrance of our shelter (facing Leroy Street). Every time you foster you will receive a health record for your fosterling. It will tell you if and when the animal(s) may need vaccines, worming, fecal or anything else that requires a veterinarian checkup. You will need to contact the Foster Care Coordinator to schedule an appointment a couple of days before these are due. Do not call and schedule your own appointments with the office staff. If you do not receive a health record at the time you pick up your fosterling, please ask for it.
WHAT ARE MY RESPONSIBILITIES?
Your daily responsibilities require you provide a clean environment for your fosterlings. You will need to provide fresh food and water daily. You will need to keep your fosterlings clean and warm. You will need to supervise any children that come in contact with them. Most importantly, you will need to provide a lot of “TLC.” We ask you to play with your fosterlings as much as possible. It is important that they receive a lot of positive human contact, so that they develop a love and trust for humans. This socialization helps the animals when placed in the adoption kennel or cattery.
You should only bathe your fosterlings if absolutely necessary and they are over six (6) weeks of age. Frequent bathing can dry out the skin and coat. Be sure to use a good quality puppy or kitten shampoo. Rinse well after shampooing, and then gently blow-dry the animal to avoid chills. Never apply any flea control products to any fosterling unless asked to do so! Check with your Foster Care Coordinator if you have any concerns about fleas.
WHAT DO I DO IN THE EVENT OF AN ILLNESS?
Puppies and kittens are generally very fragile. If you notice that they are not eating or drinking within a six (6) hour period, or if any fosterling appears lethargic, is vomiting, has labored or heavy breathing, diarrhea, or is sneezing, contact the Foster Care Coordinator. She will set up an appointment for you to bring the animal to the shelter for our staff veterinarian to examine and/or treat. If the HSTB deems medication is necessary, we will supply it at no cost to you. A technician will show you how to administer the medication.
If you feel it is an emergency please call (941) 286-4154 (cell telephone). If you choose to take the animal to your veterinarian, you will be responsible for all costs incurred.
Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) is very common in kittens and cats. This viral infection displays cold-like symptoms, including sneezing, runny nose and eyes, fever, and can cause ulcers in the eyes, mouth, on the tongue, and in the throat. If you hear more than a couple of sneezes, you should anticipate that your fosterling could be coming down with URI and contact your Foster Care Coordinator. Your fosterling(s) will be started on antibiotics in order to prevent a secondary infection. This is where your vigilance is very important. URI is highly contagious and can be serious. It is important at this time for the animals to be well hydrated. It is sometimes necessary to put a kitten that is very congested in the bathroom with the hot water running, so that they may breathe in the steam. This process must be supervised so that the animal does not injure itself. If you have a vaporizer, you may use that, with water only. If you feel that you are unable to care for an animal that requires medical treatment, please notify your Foster Care Coordinator.
HOW LONG CAN I EXPECT TO HAVE MY FOSTERLINGS?
Most foster animals stay with the family from one (1) week to eight (8) weeks. In order to be placed in the shelter for adoption, the kittens and puppies must be eight (8) weeks of age.
When they are ready to be returned to the shelter, contact your Foster Care Coordinator and an appointment will be made for you. If the shelter is full, we might ask you to keep them a little longer. When you do bring them back, you will bring them into the receiving area (facing Leroy Street). You have done your job, now sit back and relax. It is now our turn to do our job. We will make every effort to find a suitable, loving home for your foster animal. Upon receiving your foster(s), you will be provided with contact information sheet as well as a small questionnaire for each foster animal. The questionnaire is to help you to record personality and pertinent re-homing notes on each animal. Please remember that this information is very helpful in finding a suitable forever home for your foster(s). At this point, you should feel proud that you have helped us get one step closer to our goal – ending euthanasia of healthy, adoptable pets – one animal at a time.
With each dog or cat that goes on to a loving home, you will be helping us get one step closer to our goal – ending the euthanasia of adoptable pets. If you are interested, fill out our HSTB Foster Care Program Application and Foster Care Survey and fax it to HSTB at (813) 876-0765 to the attention of Lisa Knight or mail to HSTB, 3607 N. Armenia Drive, Tampa, FL 33607. Lisa Knight, Foster Care Coordinator, can be reached via email or by calling 813-367-2078 (for emergencies call 941-286-4154).