Q: What are the responsibilities of a foster parent?
Answer: Besides offering a rescued dog a safe and supportive sanctuary while we seek a qualified adoptive home, the foster parent tends to the dog’s medical, social, and behavioral needs, specifically:
1. Helping transport the dog to get it into foster care.
2. Caring responsibly for the dog and keeping him/her safe until adoption.
3. Promptly taking the dog to a vet for an exam and any medical needs. (Vetting expenses are reimbursed by the organization.)
4. Keeping the dog’s medical records.
5. Handling day-to-day care, including feeding a proper quantity of good quality dog food*, administering monthly heartworm preventative*, administering flea preventative* during flea season, keeping the dog clean and in good physical condition, and ensuring the dog’s safety at all times. *all reimbursable
6. Providing basic socialization and training to help the dog become a highly desirable, adoptable pet.
7. Submitting a profile (descriptive bio and photos) for our websites, and periodically updating the profile.
8. Assisting in the adoption process by quickly responding to correspondence about the dog when notified by the Adoption Department, providing feedback about potential adopters, and helping the dog get to its new home upon adoption.
9. Participating regularly in our New Rattitude member network (Facebook group).
Q. What’s the difference between fostering and dog-sitting?
Answer: Both foster parents and dog-sitters go through our screening and approval process. But dog-sitters provide only very short-term housing, with just basic physical care and safety, whereas foster parents’ responsibility also covers vetting, training/socializing, help with marketing/publicity for the dog, and general administration. A dog-sitting commitment is always very temporary, but a foster parent may choose a temporary placement or a regular commitment, which lasts from intake through adoption. Foster homes may be located anywhere in the country, but dog-sitting homes generally need to be located in driving proximity to New Rattitude foster homes so that it is practical for them to provide a place where a New Rattitude dog can be safely “parked” for a few days — either while transportation is being arranged or during short periods that the foster parents must be out of town and cannot take the dog along. Foster parents go through foster parent training (via telephone) to learn all about our procedures, policies, and processes; dog-sitters do not. CLICK HERE for a more detailed comparison of fostering versus dog-sitting.
Q. What does screening involve?
Answer: Screening for foster homes and dog-sitting homes involves an application, vet and personal reference checks, a telephone interview, and a home visit to ensure that the physical environment is safe and suitable for rescued dogs.
Q. What does foster parent training involve?
Answer: Foster parent training is done by telephone with simultaneous Internet access to walk through the various tools, resources, and admin sites. The applicant also receives a “How To” document to accompany the training and serve as future reference. The training generally takes about an hour and is done on a day/time convenient for the applicant.
Q. Can foster dogs be kept in a secure outdoor climate-controlled kennel?
Answer: An outdoor kennel may be used for limited daytime hours or a temporary emergency situation, but an outdoor-only set-up will not be approved for a foster home. Part of our role as foster parents is to help socialize and train the dogs as good household pets. That requires that they develop good indoor “manners,” house-training skills, and compatible relations with humans and other pets, and that won’t be achieved if the dog is not kept in the home as one of the family.
Q: Can I become a foster home if I live in an apartment? Or don’t have a fenced yard?
Answer: If you can show realistic expectations and understanding of a dog’s needs and potential behavior issues, and have a plan for how you’ll deal with such eventualities, then you can still be approved as a foster home. Have you considered issues such as how a high energy dog would get adequate outdoor exercise, what the “potty” schedule would be, and how you would deal with a dog who turned out to be a loud barker? You will also need approval from your apartment manager.
Q: What types of things would disqualify me as a foster home?
Answer: You must be at least 21 years old to become a New Rattitude foster home because foster parents must be able to enter a legally binding contract to agree to care responsibly for our dogs. Other criteria are less black and white, because a lot depends on your individual circumstances. But these are some of the things that would wave red flags in our foster home approval process:
* planning to move or have major home renovation within the next 6-12 months
* will be changing jobs or starting school within the next 6-12 months
* have a heavy travel schedule
* pregnant or have new baby
* have a newly adopted pet (within the past 3-6 months)
If any of these things apply to you, please think hard before applying to foster. In many cases, you may be better off waiting until your household situation is more stable before taking on this new commitment.
Q: How do I get a foster dog?
Answer: Your State Coordinator will let you know when there is a Rat Terrier in your area needing to be rescued and will tell you as much as we know about the dog. It will be totally your decision as to whether you want to commit to fostering this dog. If so, then your State Coordinator will help with arrangements for you to get the dog. If the dog is located near you (within an hour or so drive), you may be asked to go pick it up. If the dog is further away, your State Coordinator or a Transport Coordinator will work on plans to get the dog to you, and you may be asked to drive the last “leg” of the transport.
Q: Will I get to meet the dog before deciding to foster it?
Answer: If the dog needing rescue is located in a shelter near you or is being owner surrendered locally, you may certainly go evaluate the dog before deciding. But in many cases the dog may be too far away or the situation is too urgent for that to be practical, and the decision will have to be made on the basis of the description given to us by shelter workers, other rescue volunteers, or the surrendering owner. Sometimes there may be more than one dog in need at a time, and in that case, you may indicate which one you prefer. It is always important that you be fully in agreement before committing to a particular new dog.
Q: What if I get a dog with behavioral problems?
Answer: Many dogs will come to foster care with some sort of behavioral issue, large or small. Fortunately, most behavioral problems will be minor and fixable, but there are some whose issues turn out to be more substantial. Whether it’s chewing, barking, marking, growling, digging, “counter surfing,” snake chasing, door dashing, or something more significant, it’s important to recognize that few dogs come to rescue 100% perfect, and you will need to be realistic about the possibility of having to deal with such things. You can start reading books and Internet sites on positive obedience training and looking for ways to dog-proof your home or otherwise prepare yourself for the challenges that may come with fostering. Our New Rattitude volunteer network is always ready to support each other with advice, suggestions, and encouragement. We also have a program to reimburse foster parents for relevant training courses. It can be extremely gratifying to take a less-than-perfect dog and help him develop to his full potential!
For more serious behavioral problems (which, thankfully, are rare since we try to evaluate a dog’s temperament before agreeing to “pull” it), we have a program for professional behaviorist consultations and evaluations. If even that is not enough, your State Coordinator can try to help get the dog moved to a different foster home if there is one with an opening. Keep in mind, though, that New Rattitude does not have a central facility, so our only holding space is with other volunteer foster parents, most of whom are not eager to take in a new dog with known problems. So it’s best to be prepared and to understand the commitment.
Q: What kind of discipline would I use if a foster dog misbehaved?
Answer: New Rattitude is a firm advocate of using positive discipline only. Our position on this is discussed on our Responsible Dog Care page.
Q: What if I start fostering but then can’t continue?
Answer: Because it’s not easy (and sometimes not even possible) to move a dog to another foster home, it’s important that you not agree to foster a dog unless you are able to make a commitment to that dog for however long it takes. If unexpected life events require you to stop fostering, we will try to help find a different foster home to
take your dog. However, there is no assurance that this can be accomplished quickly, so you might need to continue fostering until that dog is adopted. After that, we would try to find other ways for you to remain involved and help our rescue effort, other than fostering.
Q: How long does it take a dog to get adopted?
Answer: A dog must be in foster care for a minimum of two weeks so that we can evaluate its health and disposition before allowing it to be adopted. After that, it largely depends on the dog and the foster parent. It’s common for healthy dogs with few behavioral issues to be adopted very quickly, especially if the foster parent is diligent about helping to promote the dog by taking good photos, submitting a clever and detailed profile for the website, blogging about the dog, etc. Over half of our dogs are adopted within two months, and the great majority are adopted within 6 months. If a dog has significant “issues” &/or the foster parent is not proactive about helping to promote the dog, it can take longer. But even senior dogs and ones with special needs (such as blindness) are often adopted in just a few months if the foster parent assists the process. These are our averages:
22% of New Rattitude dogs are adopted within 1 month.
52% of New Rattitude dogs are adopted within 2 months.
70% of New Rattitude dogs are adopted within 3 months.
80% of New Rattitude dogs are adopted within 4 months.
88% of New Rattitude dogs are adopted within 6 months.
96% of New Rattitude dogs are adopted within 10 months.
Q: What if my foster dog doesn’t get along with my cats?
Answer: A good number of rescued Rat Terriers will not get along with cats. So if you have cats, it’s your responsibility to figure out a plan to be able to reliably separate them. If that’s not feasible, it will be essential for you to only agree to take in dogs that are known to be trustworthy with cats.
Q: What if I must go out of town on a trip?
Answer: As the foster parent, it will be your responsibility to make arrangements for this eventuality. There might be a nearby New Rattitude foster home or dog-sitting home that can keep the dog while you are away. Some foster parents make trade-off arrangements with dog-loving friends or relatives. Others take their foster dog on vacation with them or leave the dog with a house-sitter. If a foster parent must board a foster dog, New Rattitude will reimburse boarding expense up to an annual maximum per foster home.
Q. How many foster dogs may I have at a time?
Answer: New foster parents are limited to one foster dog. Once that first foster dog has been adopted, the foster home may have up to four foster dogs at a time.
Q: Will New Rattitude pay for all of a dog’s medical expenses?
Answer: We cover all essential medical care, and won’t ever deny a New Rattitude foster dog needed treatment if a good outcome is probable. However, as a non-profit charity we have a limited budget, and spending a huge amount on one dog could mean not being able to save several others. So it is essential that we practice careful money management. Our foster parents are given a chart of maximum reimbursable limits for standard procedures, and are asked to be diligent in finding vetting options within those ranges. The core medical services that we provide for every dog include: exam, spay/neuter, de-worming, vaccinations, heartworm test, monthly heartworm preventative, flea preventative, and microchip insertion. Other out-of-the-ordinary medical needs will also be covered but non-emergency procedures must be pre-approved.
Q: How does New Rattitude support the foster homes in the network?
Answer: New Rattitude locates and prioritizes dogs needing rescue, and arranges for them to be brought into the program. For each new dog, we provide a microchip, ID tag, martingale collar and leash, de-wormer, flea preventative (upon request), quick-kill flea treatment, toy, and “going home” bag. We also reimburse for heartworm preventative and dog food (subject to our cost guidelines). We offer a fostering subsidy for relevant expenses that aren’t otherwise reimbursed and a puppy stipend to apply to the extra out-of-pocket expenses of raising a litter of puppies. We provide training, support, and assistance for our foster parents, and maintain a toll-free Lost Dog Hotline. Our volunteers manage our website, market the dogs, handle the adoption application process, arrange for a dog’s transportation to its adoptive home, and provide follow-up advice to the adoptive family. CLICK HERE for more details on the support New Rattitude provides each foster home.
Q: What expenses does the foster family have to cover?
Answer: Normally, none. We share tips on how to acquire non-reimbursable items very cheaply or at no cost, and we offer an annual foster subsidy to offset spending for other out-of-pocket expenses for things such as training treats, toys, grooming supplies (shampoo, nail clippers), potty supplies (pooper scooper, poop bags, enzyme accident cleaner), car harness or tether, dog bed, baby gate, X-pen, and crate. Because New Rattitude is a 501(c)3 non-profit charity, any non-reimbursed expenses incurred by our foster homes to care for their foster dogs are tax deductible as donations to New Rattitude.
Q: If a foster dog destroys something of mine, will I be reimbursed?
Answer: Sorry, no. Our budget doesn’t cover loss of property. We recommend that you keep a close monitoring eye on each new dog until you’re assured of his trustworthiness.
Q: If I really fall for my own foster dog, will I be able to adopt him?
Answer: To help ensure that new foster parents are joining our foster care program for the right reasons, and to help protect the stability of our program, New Rattitude has a firm policy against NEW foster parents adopting New Rattitude dogs. We want to ensure that new volunteers become foster parents with the goal of helping to save dogs in general, rather than adopting just one. Giving up a loved foster dog upon adoption is usually the hardest part of fostering, but being able to do so is the only way a foster care program can work. Anyone thinking about permanently adding a dog to their household should pursue adoption (and let us help find a great match) rather than fostering. Foster parents who have successfully taken at least one foster dog all the way “through the system” (meaning from intake through adoption) will then be eligible to adopt a future New Rattitude dog.
Q: May I independently find someone to adopt my foster dog?
Answer: Sure! But the prospective adopter still must go through our New Rattitude adoption process. We are legally responsible for each dog brought into our organization, and have an obligation to follow proper procedures to ensure that the dog will be going to the right home. If you have a relative, friend, or neighbor that is interested in your foster dog, have them fill out an adoption application and list you as one of their references.
Q: Do I have a say-so in the adoption process?
Answer: Absolutely! The foster parent communicates with the applicants to provide a very detailed description of the dog, answer questions, and perhaps even arrange for the applicant to meet the dog. While the Adoption Team concentrates on whether this applicant would provide a suitable “Furever Home” for a rescue dog in general, the foster parent focuses on whether this applicant would be a good match for this particular dog. The foster parent then provides feedback to the Adoption Manager, who makes the final approval decision.
Q: How long does it take to get approved as a foster home?
Answer: It will probably take us a few days to reach your references and then call you for a telephone interview. We then recruit a home visit volunteer, who will contact you to schedule a time to come inspect your property. After that, it should be just a short time before you hear if you’re approved to be a New Rattitude foster home.