Volunteering With Animals – Part Two: Companion Animal Foster Carers


“Draw me like one of your French kittens”
– Lilian, one of three kittens I fostered from the Cat Haven while living in Perth.

If you would like to take a pet into your home temporarily but cannot commit to a year or longer, then foster caring could be a great option for you. These opportunities vary quite a bit – it might be caring for assistance-dogs-in-training while their raisers are way for the weekend, taking in a mother and her babies until they are old enough to be desexed and re-homed, helping to rehabilitate a pet after injury or surgery, or socialising and training a pet that hasn’t been in a loving home until they’re ready to be adopted. Cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs are the animals most commonly sent to temporary foster homes.

The time commitment of these roles can range from days (in the case of assistance dog minders) to many months for animals recovering from serious surgeries or requiring behavioral training. Organization that have bricks-and-mortar shelters can take many of the animals that go to foster back to the shelter once they are ready for adoption. There are also an array of fantastic groups that keep the animals in foster homes until they are adopted. In these cases, the animals might be with you for a while longer and you should be prepared to allow interested parties to visit your home.

Eee & Arr - two kittens I fostered from the RSPCA Vic. Being cute snuggling in my lap.

Eee & Arr – two kittens I fostered from the RSPCA Vic. Being cute snuggling in my lap.

Personally, I have taken to fostering up to three orphaned kittens. I’ve cared for two lots now, each from about 5 weeks of age until about 8-9 weeks. This is the best option for my household, as we only need to commit to 4 or 5 weeks, they are happy enough in a tiny one bedroom apartment and they can be left at home alone throughout the day (confined to one room). They are the best fun; I spend at least an hour each day playing with and socializing them. It’s very rewarding seeing them go from scared kittens who have probably hardly been handled by a person, to confident, loving companions. Even after only a few weeks it is hard letting them go. But I’m happy knowing they are going to loving homes, and I helped them get there.

The different requirements for foster carers do vary quite a bit (i.e. some allow other pets and children, some require back yards, some require lots of attention and some will need to be kept quiet), so if you are interested it is best to speak with an organization to see if they can fit an animal to your situation. Requirements that you can expect for any foster animal are that you are allowed pets on your property, and that you can bring the foster animal in for check ups every few weeks. The shelters will usually supply any food, bedding and litter required so that the cost to you will be minimal.

If your interested in foster caring, you can contact the major shelters around Melbourne:

RSPCA Victoria
Lort Smith
The Lost Dogs Home (not just for dogs)
Save A Dog Scheme (dogs and cats)
The Pets Haven

Or, you can support many smaller organizations doing great work for homeless pets. There is a comprehensive list of rescue groups around Australia on the Pets Rescue website. Here are a few around Victoria with foster programs:

Melbourne Animal Rescue
Victorian Dog Rescue
Siberian Husky Rescue
Second Chance Animal Rescue
Forever Friends

Thanks to Alyson and other great foster carers!

My friend Alyson fosters greyhounds in Perth. This is Stewie, a throw-away from the racing industry. He found a home after only a week in foster care!

I’d love to hear you stories of fostering animals!


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