Things to know before becoming a foster:
How do I know what animals need my help?
- They all need your help. For each animal fostered out more room is created at the shelter. You're not just saving the animal you're fostering but also the one who would have had to "leave" the shelter to make more room.
What do I need to do to start fostering for WSAL?
- Join WSAL's MEETUP Group
- Complete the WSAL Foster Application and Volunteer forms (available online or refer to your "Fostering for WSAL" email)
- If possible come by and attend an adoption event, meet the other volunteers and find out what being a volunteer and foster is about first hand. This will be a valuable tool to you in your upcoming adventure.
- If you are bringing an animal you already have in your possession into the group (something you rescued, a stray, a personal pet) you will need to provide the following items BEFORE the animal will be posted or be officially added to the organization. This includes animals we tagged for you at the shelter that you picked up or that were transported to you by someone other than a board member. Please be sure to request them from the transporter or make sure arrangements have been made and follow up to ensure records were received.
- Medical records. If a personal pet this is required. If it is a stray we need anything you may have, vaccination records etc. We maintain the original records (including the rabies tag). Feel free to keep copies for your personal records.
- If it is an animal you pulled/adopted from a shelter we must have the shelter records
- Pictures and bio must be sent
**If monthly updates are not received or no events are attended for two consecutive months, without contact initiated by the foster, the animal will be removed from the active list and pulled from the posting sites. After 3 months the animal will be archived and dropped from the group. We will release the animal to you and you will become the owner/responsible party. If the animal was a foster that WSAL covered medical or expenses for you will be liable for adoption fees. We do understand that things come up and that everyone is busy sometimes. We just need you to check in. We are committed to helping you place these animals but need your help to do so. This is a commitment and does take effort on your part.
How do I get a foster pet?
- We will send out emails with animals that we would like to bring into the group if a foster can be located for them or with fosters already within the group that need to be relocated. Please sign up for our MEETUP group to be added to these distributions. Most animals sent out on these emails are very urgent so please respond ASAP if you are interested in fostering one.
- All animals must be approved by a Board member prior to becoming a WSAL foster. If you find a stray , have a personal pet you wish to rehome (you must agree to foster until placed), are contacted by a third party etc., you will need to send an email that includes:
- Pet information
- Reason for request to rehome
- Any known medical status (vaccinations, altered, illness)
- Your contact info and/or the person in possession of the animal
What are my responsibilities to my foster pet?
- Provide a safe, warm, secure environment where the animal can feel love and hope as it learns to socially interact as part of a family.
- Keep track of vaccination dates, dates of HW preventative, flea and tick preventative etc. This will be for dates given and future dates due. If you do not have supplies please contact us at least a week ahead any due dates to make arrangements.
- Bring them to at least one adoption event a month.
What will my responsibilities to WSAL be?
- Email Subject Line – Animal Name- Breed- Your Name- Shelter pulled from (if applicable or put stray etc.)
- Your contact information (yes we already have this on file but including it in the email makes them easier to sort and access)
- Animal age
- Approx. size/weight
- Medical status – altered, vaccinations, wormed, etc.
- Where they came from
- Brief background if available
- First impressions on temperament or needs
- Coordinate with WSAL to meet potential adopters. We know everyone has busy lives but if we can't get in contact with you someone can miss their new fur-ever home!
- Keep in contact. Remember you are responsible for one foster pet (possibly more). We are responsible for up to 100 foster pets including our personal fosters.
What animals are a good fit for my family and my home?
- Talk to other volunteers and fosters
- Keep some things in mind
- Some dogs are very mellow and would be fine inside lying around all day with a short walk now and then. Others will be bouncing off all four walls and possibly your ceiling if they don't have a fenced yard to play in. (I still have paw marks on my ceiling fan!!)
- Puppies that aren't housetrained and youngsters who will put anything and everything in their mouth may not be a good combination
- Any dog that has shown even a potential for aggression will only be fostered under special circumstances with full disclosure. HOWEVER, be aware though that all dogs have teeth and claws and any interaction between children and your foster needs to be supervised. Usually no harm is meant, but these animals haven't always gotten a lot of attention and they get really excited or even really scared when someone gives them some. They may jump up or play to rough. This is one of the reasons they need to interact with people and learn manners.
- More often than not these critters love people. Not all of them are thrilled with other animals though. Always be careful about interaction with other animals if you already have pets at home.
Are the animals vaccinated and healthy?
- We try to ensure all animals are vaccinated when they come in or make arrangements to have them vaccinated ASAP. This does not always include rabies, since those must be administered by a veterinarian. Rabies will be received at the time of spay/neuter, when the animal is at least 4 months old or as available.
- We can also provide dewormer as needed.
- Generally if an animal is sick it will not be sent to most foster situations. Sometimes symptoms will not appear until they've already gone home with someone though. Please make sure your personal animals are up to date on their vaccinations.
- If you are fostering and need dewormer, vaccinations, HW meds etc you must contact us ahead of time and we will normally bring items to the next event where you can pick up or where the pet can be vaccinated.
- All medications/medical info must be documented on the Vaccination Log for Fosters and turned in ASAP. You can mail the records to
- West Side Animal League
PO BOX 150673
Fort Worth, TX 76108.
- If it cannot be mailed it must be brought to the next event.
- West Side Animal League
How long will I be keeping this animal?
- While we hope to find a new home for your foster in a matter of days please be prepared to keep them as long as necessary including months in some cases.
How will people know my foster is up for adoption if he's not at a shelter?
- We have volunteers who post on Adopt-A-Pet, PetFinder, CraigsList, and many other locations. We hold adoptions a few times a month. The more exposure these guys get the better!
Will people contact me directly about the animal or will they contact the League?
- This is your choice. Normally they will contact the League and we will contact you. The process moves quicker if potential adopters can speak to you directly for information on the animals. If it makes you uncomfortable let us know and we will make the initial contact. New foster families should arrange to meet adopters at the next scheduled event. This lets you see how we interact with potential adopters and gain experience.
I have a foster...NOW WHAT?
What will my foster baby need at home?
- All the things you would provide to a family pet, food, water, a fence (or an area to walk frequently), love. Toys are usually a good idea if you do not have other pets at home. They may look for things to chew on if they get lonely. By the same fact if you have others at home toys can sometimes cause fights over who the toy belongs to.
Can I give them a bath?
- By all means. If you think you can do it go for it!
Can they be around my other animals?
- This is a tricky one. For adoptions the recommendation is to keep them quarantined for 10-14 days...but let's face it, not real practical.
- You do need to realize these animals have not been screened for health issues. We do not allow visibly sick animals to be fostered but sometimes things don't show up right away. ALWAYS make sure your personal animals are current on their vaccinations, including bordatella.
- Be cautious when doing introductions. If you do not have experience introducing animals and need help let us know.
- Do not leave them alone together until there is an established history of them getting along. Even then we do not recommend leaving different species alone.
- Even if everyone is getting along, always remain cautious, especially during feeding time etc.
What kind of food is recommended?
- Bland is usually best. The shelter uses many different kinds of food so feel free to ask what they are currently feeding and stick with that when feasible. Be aware...often times changing their diet can have some messy results.
- We often have food available and can provide it if needed.
My foster doesn't seem to like me?
- Give them a little while and don't take it personally. These critters have been through some really traumatic things in the last few days. They lost their people, they got locked in a cage in this loud noisy...sometimes stinky...place where they didn't know anyone. Can you blame them for being a little skittish. They'll come around when they realize they can trust you.
- If they show any actual aggression towards you please let us know immediately.
My foster seems bored what can I do?
- Play with them and make sure they have something to play with. If you don't give them something to do they'll find something to play with and it won't always be good.
- Consider taking another foster of a similar size, age and temperament. Sometimes two puppies are easier than one because they entertain each other (and wear each other out!)
Someone called wanting to adopt but they made me uncomfortable, what now?
- Call and discuss it with a Board member. Foster's have some say in who gets to adopt. If you really don't feel right about it we will back you up. We generally recommend on the first contact to let them know others have also contacted you and you would like to get their information and if the animal is still available you will contact them. This gives you a graceful way to back out if you feel it is not the right fit.
I have a family that wants to adopt!!! Now what do I do????
- Make arrangements to meet them. You can do this at an adoption event or anywhere public. Contact us if you are not comfortable going alone. We never recommend giving a potential adopter your home address or meeting them at your home.
- After they have completed the paperwork...and paid...they get to take their new fur-ever friend home and you're ready to take another foster!
- Payment can be made by
- Check, payable to WSAL
- Send in the paperwork within 3 days of the adoption. You can mail the application to:
- West Side Animal League
PO BOX 150673
Fort Worth, TX 76108.
- If they paid in cash you can write a check, exchange for a cashier's check or deposit and pay online through the league donate button on our website. Until the adoption fee is received by the League you are responsible for the amount.
- West Side Animal League
What can... and often will go wrong?
Please note: not all of these things will happen, hopefully, but you need to know just in case!
My new foster has worms!
- Let us know and we can provide some dewormer. Many dogs especially puppies will have worms. You give the dewormer for five days and often again for five days 2 weeks later. They will have worms in their poo for a day or so after. Be aware...it get's messy for a little while not too long after they take the dewormer so be prepared.
My new foster has fleas!
- If they are old enough use a flea and tick shampoo, the drops that go down their back, spray or for a one time fix use CapStar (it only kills the ones on them right then, does not protect anytime after that). If you do administer any type of medicated spray, drop etc you must keep a record of when and what. We don't want anybody overdosed. Pups and kittens who are too young for anything else you can bathe them in Dawn dish soap...just keep it out of their eyes!
My foster doesn't want to go to sleep!
- Don't let them be too lazy in the evening. They need to get their energy out and make sure they go potty before bedtime. For younger pups sometimes white noise and something warm to lay with helps. Stuffed animals from goodwill make good surrogates. Be sure not to get ones that have plastic eyes or other choking hazards.
My foster ate my new shoes!
- This can and does happen. Unfortunately WSAL cannot reimburse for destruction of property or any of the costs incurred while a foster is in your care. It is a big responsibility but also a rewarding one.
- Always keep shoes, electrical cords, etc. put up and out of reach.
I think my foster is sick
- Please contact a Board member or Foster Coordinator/POC as soon as possible.
- We can provide limited medical care but all veterinary visits etc. must be pre-approved. If you do not receive pre-approval, you will be liable for any expense incurred.
- Any visits after 6pm cost more. If your animal is sick in the morning please contact us then and don't wait and see. Often once you have talked to us we may recommend holding off but please let us know when you begin to notice symptoms or if anything changes.
My foster is not housetrained
- Most aren't. That's one of the great things about these animals going to foster is they usually get a head start on training and this is a selling point for adopters. You're kinda getting the short end of the stick on this one...Family Dollar does sell latex gloves 10 pair for a $1.00!
My foster got loose and ran off
- This can and does happen regardless of any measures you take to prevent it sometimes. Always use common sense and realize the reason many of the animals ended up in the shelter was because they had run off before. WSAL provides tags that have the League contact information that all fosters should wear on their collar. Contact your Foster Coordinator/POC as soon as possible. We can help get pics and flyers to you to hang up in the neighborhood.
- Drive around and look, check with neighbors and local shelters, post flyers.
- Let us know if your foster is jumping the fence or digging under etc. and we can help with suggestions. We've all been there at some point.
Feel free to contact any Board member when needed. Please remember we all work during the day and cannot always talk unless it's an emergency. Texting is usually quickest way to reach us. The "Carol's" are usually the easiest to reach.
- Carol McFarland – (817) 371-0394
- Carol Boyd – (817) 798-1335
- Lisa Morton – (817) 271-2552
- Kelly Sansom – (817) 320-0399
- Bob Fox – Treasurer
Send updates, pics, records, etc. to:
Medical and Adoption Records to Marchell Cross
Or mail records to:
West Side Animal League
PO BOX 150673
Fort Worth TX 76108