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Fostering: short-term care, long-term impact

22 May 2023

As SPCA Centres around the country are at near-constant capacity, and with a seemingly never-ending kitten season, the role of our fosterers is proving more important than ever. Read on to learn more about the joys of fostering and how to get involved.

Fostering: short-term care, long-term impact

Animal rescue organisations around the country are all currently facing the same issue; the overpopulation crisis of companion animals, and limited space to manage and care for them.

While SPCA is constantly working on prevention initiatives to reduce the number of unwanted animals being born, the role of our fosterers is absolutely critical to help us to continue caring for vulnerable animals in our Centres.

What is fostering and how does it work?

Fostering involves providing a short-term loving home for an animal (or animals) in need. The length of time varies depending on each animal’s situation, but it is often between two to six weeks. Foster volunteers are able to discuss their circumstances with our teams and make sure they only have animals placed with them that work for them.

There is no financial cost to you as the fosterer – everything you need to care for your fur-friend is provided by SPCA. This includes food, blankets, toys, beds, litter and medication if required.

What’s needed from fosterers? The ability to provide a safe, caring home environment, and of course, plenty of love and affection!

Our SPCA teams are always on hand to provide guidance and assistance to our fosterers when needed.

Kitten in foster care

Why would an animal need to go into foster care, and why is it important?

Here at SPCA, we have thousands of animals coming in and out of our Centres every month. We couldn’t care for so many animals if we didn’t have the generous help of our foster families.

When an animal is able to go into a temporary foster home, this immediately frees up space for an incoming animal at that Centre. With so many incoming animals, particularly with this ongoing kitten season, every foster home makes a big difference.

There are various reasons that an animal might need to go into foster care, including:

  • Socialisation - many animals that come into our care are shy or distrustful of humans, and time spent in a foster home can help them to come out of their shells and prepare them for adoption.
  • Surgery recovery - an animal may need somewhere quiet and calm to recover from a recent surgery.
  • Wait time - some may simply be awaiting a scheduled surgery and need somewhere to live while waiting for the surgery date. Some are simply too young when they come in to be made available for adoption, and just have some growing to do!
  • Illness - animals in our care are sometimes sick (for example kittens with cat flu), and need a safe and isolated environment to recover.

Is fostering for me?

Fostering is a wonderful way for animal-lovers to get involved and help those who need it most, when unable to commit to a permanent adoption.

Whether that is due to living situations, work commitments, financial cost, or upcoming travel, we know that it’s not always the right time to take on a new family member for the long-term. But by becoming a foster hero, you can make a direct impact by providing a loving home to a vulnerable animal.

Fostering is also an excellent option for those who are considering adoption, but are keen to get an idea of what pet ownership may be like first, before taking the big step.

We do see many instances where fosterers end up finding their perfect match, and deciding to keep their foster pet – these instances tend to be called ‘foster fails’, but in reality we couldn’t be happier when we see this happen! It does mean valuable foster numbers can decline though, so we are always looking for new foster homes to open up for animals in need.

If you’re not sure fostering is for you, you can always give it a try and see what you think. When you put your hand up to foster, there is no expectation of a long-term commitment, and we’d encourage anyone curious about the experience to give it a try! You might just find a new calling.

The benefits

Our fosterers know how rewarding it is to get involved and make a difference in the lives of animals.

Bec and Russ have been fostering dogs from our Wellington Centre, and have shared with us their experience so far.

“We love fostering, because it really suits our lifestyle. We can’t take on the full-time commitment of a pet, but we love having dogs around - so fostering gives us that flexibility,” Bec said.

“We love the idea that we’re providing a safe, happy space to animals when they need it the most, and seeing them relax and show off their personalities when they feel comfortable around us.”

“When they do find their forever home, seeing their name disappear from the adoption page is such a great feeling.”

We’re so grateful to all of our fosterers for their time, care and commitment.

How do I sign up to foster?

For more information, and to sign up to foster, please visit www.spca.nz/foster today. Every animal that you foster is given a second chance at life – the more animals you foster, the more lives you can save.

To all of our current and future fosterers, we thank you.

Foster puppy
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