Is Fostering Worthwhile? These Caregivers Have the Answer!
It’s the first annual ASPCA National Animal Foster Appreciation Week and we could not be more excited to shine an extra big, bright light on our amazing foster caregivers. Whether they have cared for one or dozens of dogs, cats and even horses, we could not thank our fosters enough for the amazing work they do. People choose to foster animals for a variety of reasons, but we asked some of our fosters at the ASPCA why they foster—and why they love it—and here’s what they had to say!
Stephanie and Rocket on a walk in the snow.
Stephanie Y. has fostered two dogs from the ASPCA Animal Recovery Center (ARC) and Canine Annex for Recovery and Enrichment (CARE). One of her two foster dogs, Rocket, became a “foster fortune,” after seven months of fostering the lovable dog and she adopted him.
“Animals that were mistreated finding the love they never had has been the most rewarding part,” says Stephanie of her fostering experience. “Rocket was also very sick and had a few surgeries. Caring for him as he healed has really touched my heart. Seeing him heal over the time I had him makes me want the same for other sick animals.”
Stephanie adds that what she loves most about being a foster pet parent is being able to give the dogs a second chance in life—“and spoiling them rotten!”
Andrea and one of her cats relaxing.
Andrea C. fosters kittens younger than eight-weeks-old for the ASPCA in Los Angeles. Some of the kittens need to be bottle fed, some need to be weaned and taught to eat solid food, and some are slightly feral and need to be tamed.
For the last five years, with about 65 kittens, Andrea has helped them with all of it! Three of the cats even became foster fortunes and now help Andrea socialize her foster kittens by playing with and grooming them.
“Fostering is extremely gratifying. By agreeing to foster that kitten, you’ve literally saved its life,” Andrea tells us. “I love being able to make a difference, even if it’s just for a little kitten. It may not be much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s life changing for that little cat.”
Of course, one of Andrea’s favorite thing about fostering is the steady stream of adorable kittens she cares for, but she also loves to hand over the foster kitten to their new adopter.
“It always happens the same way. I hand over the kitten and the new owner picks the kitten up and stares into its face. It’s the look on the new owner’s face holding their new kitten that gets me—love at first sight. It never gets old.”
Teri and her current foster horse, Ace.
Teri H. had fostered smaller animals for years while living in Japan, but after moving back to the United States, Teri began fostering horses through Heart of Phoenix, an ASPCA Right Horse Partner. Her first ever foster horse, Miss Rita, became a foster fortune that she adopted. But since then, Teri has fostered four horses over the last three years, including Ace, her current foster horse.
Ace came to Teri seemingly entirely unhandled, very fearful and reactive. However, with some time, hard work, love and patience, Ace is now doing great and will be ready for adoption soon!
“Fostering horses with behavioral challenges has been very rewarding for me because they have taught me so much,” Teri explains. “One of the lessons I have learned is to lay down my pride and my timeline. To me nothing slows down progress more than pressure. I really get more done just horsing around a little here and there and smiling a lot.”
Teri continues, “If I look at the big picture, the need is too overwhelming. But for this one horse in my barn, I can try to help him overcome his fears and maybe learn a few skills too. Both of which can help give him a more secure future.”
Olivia’s husband, Stephen, and their foster dog, Augusta.
Olivia H. and her husband, Stephen, have been foster caregivers for almost a year, fostering three fearful dogs from the ASPCA Behavior Rehabilitation Center (BRC). Though the couple have a few dogs of their own, they have a whole lot of love and patience to share with dogs who need a little extra TLC. They are currently in the process of getting their fourth foster!
“What we find most rewarding about being foster pet parents is hearing how the information we gathered during their time with us helped with their rehab decisions and/or helped find adopters for the dogs and get them settled into their new homes,” Olivia tells us. “It is so rewarding that we helped these dogs get the second chance they deserve.”
What Olivia and Stephen love most about being foster pet parents is being able to see the dogs settle into home life “and getting a little glimpse of their potential to be happy, healthy pets who can live without constant fear or anxiety.”
DonnaMarie and one of her foster kittens, Aurora.
DonnaMarie S. has been a foster for the ASPCA since May 2009, specializing in under-socialized and special needs kittens. DonnaMarie has two special needs cats of her own and has fostered “a lot” of kittens over the years.
“And what I mean by ‘a lot’ is ‘when can I get more?’” she jokes.
“It’s wonderful to start with impossibly small, fragile, frightened or sickly kittens and watch them grow into happy, healthy and confident cats,” says DonnaMarie. “It feels like a privilege to get to know them as they develop their individual personalities, and it’s a real joy to think of how much love and companionship they’re going to bring to others.”
DonnaMarie loves being a foster because she gets to constantly care for kittens, without necessarily adding to her own crew.
“And sometimes, someone I know adopts one and I get to watch my little foster grow up,” she adds. “It becomes like an extended family.”
Left, Sergeant Shaw and Betty. Right, Betty’s first time at the lake with Emily and Jack.
Sergeant Matthew Shaw heard about a three-year-old Belgian Malinois named Betty, formerly known as Bella, who had been abused on camera and her story immediately touched his heart. After seeing the video, he offered to foster Betty.
After three months of fostering, Sgt. Shaw and his wife, Emily, had fallen in love with Betty’s “quirky attitude.” Seeing that she and their resident dog, Jack, got along so well the couple knew that Betty was exactly where she needed to be and decided to officially adopt her.
“The most rewarding part about being a foster parent is knowing that Betty will never be in an abusive home again,” Shaw tells us. “In the beginning she was scared, hid under furniture and didn’t want to approach us. By week three, she was slowly becoming a dog again, playing with her brother Jack and running around outside. But most of all, seeing her happy and healthy is the best reward we could ever ask for!”
Erin and her latest batch of bottle baby kittens.
Erin S. has been fostering kittens for the ASPCA for nearly four years. After taking our bottle baby training course, she began taking in the tiniest of kittens, which she now believes is her favorite group to foster. She has fostered about 75 kittens and “can’t wait to see the next 75!”
“To take a small little life and raise it into a wonderful, healthy, loving and playful kitten has to be the best job!” Erin explains. “What I love about fostering with the ASPCA is the support they give each foster. Any time I have a question or problem they are always quick to answer.”
We love our foster caregivers so much, and we want to give them a giant “THANK YOU” for all that they do. Interested in becoming a foster pet parent like one of the fosters we featured above? Find out how to become an animal foster in New York City, Los Angeles or at your local shelter!