What is a Foster-Based Rescue?

Foster-based rescues operate without a designated facility. Instead, they rely on volunteers in their communities to temporarily house animals they rescue.

How Foster-Based Rescues Work

Foster-based rescues rely on their own homes and on people in their communities to provide temporary housing and care for rescued animals. Whereas a government-operated humane society, for instance, has a facility that allows them to keep rescued animals on the premises, foster-based rescues operate solely out of their own homes. The people working behind the scenes are everyday folks just like you who volunteer their time and use their hard-earned resources to operate their organization. When foster-based rescues recruit multiple foster homes, their rescue efforts are significantly increased. 

Foster-based rescues are founded when a significant need is recognized in the community, even if other rescues and shelters already exist. However, this type of animal rescue is run privately, meaning that they aren’t delegated by the local government to take in every animal they’re asked to. Instead, foster-based rescues typically have specific animal populations that they focus on. For example, The Kitten Koop focuses our resources on sick, orphaned, unowned kittens. 

What happens when you ask a foster-based rescue for help?

These rescues are asked monthly, weekly, or even daily to help animals in need. Unfortunately, unless the community is able to provide support, they aren’t able to rescue the majority of the animals they’re asked to. Below is an example of the process that foster-based rescues go through each time they’re asked to help a new animal:

  1. The rescue team evaluates the request. If the animal meets the criteria for the organization’s priorities, the team sees if any funds and supplies are available. 
  2. If funds and supplies are available, the rescue team will see if they have space in any of their foster homes or their own homes. 
  3. If their foster homes are full, the rescue team may reach out to the community to recruit more foster homes. Often, they will ask the finder of the animal to sign up to foster. If there are no foster homes available, they will be unable to rescue the animal. 
  4. If they’re lucky enough to find a foster home, the rescue team will get eyes on the animal, perform an intake assessment, and create a care plan for the animal. The care plan typically includes a vaccine series, spay/neuter surgery, emergent medical care, deworming, and monitoring vital signs and weight. 
  5. The rescue team works with the foster home to schedule appointments and to educate them on how to care for the animal. They’re sometimes able to provide food and litter. 
  6. Once the animal has completed their care plan, the rescue will post the animal for adoption and take on the responsibility of finding the animal a forever home. The animal will remain in the foster home until they’re adopted. 

The longer that foster homes remain full, the longer the rescue must wait before they can help more animals in need. Foster-based rescues need to wait until the animals are adopted before there is enough space to rescue more. 

How Foster-Based Rescues Help Their Communities

First and foremost, foster-based rescues help their communities by rescuing animals when they’re able and ensuring that they find loving homes. The individuals who run these rescues and the foster homes who volunteer their time to care for and raise the animals are a small but significant part of the solution. 

Foster-based rescues have the option to register as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Doing so has the potential to give them access to physical and financial resources. However, registering as a nonprofit can be expensive, so some rescues continue operating unregistered until they have enough funds to do so. In either case, foster-based rescues are typically run by people who have careers outside of animal rescue. They work in offices 40 hours a week, they’re teachers, they’re parents – they’re people just like you. 

Even when they’re not in a position to help in an emergent situation, foster-based rescues are available to educate the public on how to care for animals. The people operating these rescues know that they cannot solve these problems on their own, so they want to empower people like you in their communities to care about these issues and to take confident actions that allow you to help animals. 

These rescues are able to cover the cost of all veterinary care for the animals they rescue, bringing peace of mind to the foster homes that they won’t have to pay for these important expenses. However, not all foster-based rescues are able to provide food and litter, because they are completely reliant on donations and their own income to fund each animal’s care. This isn’t sustainable for the long-term, which is why foster-based rescues must face the harsh reality of their limitations. If you want the foster-based rescue in your community to continue rescuing animals, please donate, foster, or adopt. 

How You Can Help Foster-Based Rescues in Your Community

Foster-based rescues rely on their communities to partner with them in order to continue saving animals. Explore different ways to support the foster-based rescue in your area. 

Adopt an animal

Adopting an animal from a foster-based rescue helps the organization free up space to rescue more animals in need, and of course, it gives the adorable animal the loving home they’ve been waiting for. 

Adoption fees are another important piece to the puzzle. Most adoption fees that foster-based rescues charge only cover a small portion of what they’ve paid to care for the animal. Adoption fees help the rescue team put a small amount of money back into their rescue for future animals in need. 

Sign up to foster

If you can’t adopt, please consider fostering for the organization. Fostering is a wonderful way to experience life with an animal without committing to them for the long-term. It doesn’t take much to become a foster home. You simply need compassion for animals, a clean and safe space, and the ability to follow guidelines and attend appointments.

The rescue team will be there for you every step of the way for any care, behavior, or medical questions you can think of. When foster homes apply and sign up, the rescue team does their very best to make sure they’re regularly available by phone or email so that you always have their support. 

Donate supplies, money, or time

If you can’t foster or adopt, consider making a donation to your local foster-based rescue, as they are always in need. Sending them a monetary donation, buying them some much-needed supplies, or taking time to create things like blankets and toys would mean so much to the foster-based rescue near you.

Spay and neuter your pets

If nothing else, please spay and neuter your pets. The United States is in the middle of a pet overpopulation crisis. Municipal shelters and private rescues are already full of unhoused, unwanted, unhealthy pets who desperately need their care. Spaying and neutering your pets is a significant help to local rescues, because these surgical procedures ensure that your pets aren’t a part of the overpopulation crisis.

Read more about fostering:

How long do you foster animals?

Why you should sign up to foster

How to include fostering in your daily routine

Exploring animal welfare one foster kitten at a time

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