If you are considering taking on the rewarding and incredibly helpful task of fostering a homeless dog for Cocker Spaniel Adoption Center (CSAC) Inc., you should carefully review the following guidelines, in addition to the Foster Agreement you will be asked to sign.
Foster parents and families form the backbone of the work we do. We cannot exist as a rescue if people are not willing to bring needy animals into their homes while we search for permanent homes for them. Fosters have our undying gratitude and our deepest respect and admiration. There are never enough foster homes to go around, so each is precious to CSAC and the animals we are trying to save.
Getting a Foster
To make your fostering experience as positive as possible for you, your family, and your furry charge, please commit the following to memory before bringing him/her home:
•Arrange to introduce the new animal to your own pet(s), if you have them, outside on neutral territory. Once inside, it is best to situate the foster animal in a crate at first, and introduce him/her gradually to other household members. Do not try to make the foster an immediate part of your family. Let him/her settle into the new place, and help him/her learn the rules of the house as soon as possible. Never let the foster take over and place your own animals at risk or under stress.
•Please give your foster dog a chance to settle in before making a determination that it is not a good fit. Foster dogs can be very excited, anxious and/or scared. Given a few days or weeks, foster dogs almost always settle down. If you are having specific problems, contact the Placement Coordinator who can help you troubleshoot issues including housebreaking, alpha behavior, etc. If after repeated efforts, it is apparent that your foster dog is not a good fit, please contact the Placement Coordinator so attempts can be made to move the dog to another foster home or to a kennel facility.
•Use a training collar to walk a foster so he/she cannot slip from the collar and run off. A dog can easily slip out of a flat collar, which should be worn for identification purposes
only. The training collar should be used only for walking and training and should be removed after the session. Keep the training collar attached to the leash at all times. If you need instructions on how the collar is to be worn, please check with an experienced volunteer.
•Before taking a foster animal, ask about the animal's age, gender, temperament, behavior, and why he/she is in need of adoption. Find out to the best of your ability if he/she is a stray, from a shelter, an owner turn in, a victim of abuse or neglect, etc. Forward any applications you might get on your own to the Placement Coordinator or refer interested applicants to CSAC’s website so they may complete an application online. Remember that not every prospective adopter is approved, and sometimes other applications may be pending for your foster. Some animals are more popular than others and can have multiple applications. Others must wait for that special someone. But they all find homes, sooner or later, if we work together. Unlike many other rescues, CSAC does allow the foster parent to have a say in who gets to adopt his/her foster dog, and, CSAC gives the foster parent first choice to adopt if the foster decides they cannot part with their foster dog.
•If necessary, CSAC can lend you a crate, a collar and/or leash. Whenever you transport an animal, make certain you have him/her on a leash, with a secure training and flat collar. No prong collars, please! If you plan to foster on a regular basis, it would be a great help to CSAC if you could get a crate of your own. Make sure the animal has ample room to move around when choosing the proper size. Confine all animals being transported in vehicles either with harnesses or in crates. This may not seem like the best choice for the animals, but it is essential for your safety and theirs. Accidents can and do happen when animals are loose in the car. People and animals can and do die.
•Absent extraordinary circumstances, foster families are asked to provide the following without reimbursement from CSAC: food, heartworm preventative, flea/tick preventative, grooming, treats, toys, and miscellaneous items such as training pads, dog beds, etc. Some pet stores will donate food for foster dogs, so it is worth contacting local pet stores like PetSmart and Petco about this. There are some groomers who will groom CSAC foster dogs at substantial discounts. Make a note of the date heartworm preventative and flea/tick preventative are given so this information can be conveyed to the adoptive family. If you are unable to cover the cost of any of these items, you must provide a written request for reimbursement to the Placement Coordinator who will turn the request over to the Board of Directors. In addition to the above responsibilities, you may be asked to participate in transporting your foster to potential adopters.
Promoting Your Foster
•Fosters are required to provide the Foster Coordinator with good photos of their foster dog as well as information for a bio. Photos and bios should be updated every three
months at a minimum. If the foster is unable to obtain photos of their foster dog, a volunteer can arrange to go to the foster’s home to take the photos. The photos and bio information are required for promoting the foster dog on CSAC’s website. Without these, the dog has a much less chance of being adopted. Your Placement Coordinator will be in touch with you when the dog first arrives in your home as well as on a regular basis thereafter to make sure photos and bio information are updated regularly.
•If the foster lives within 50 miles of a scheduled CSAC adoption show, the foster is urged to take their foster dog to at least one adoption show every month, provided it is advisable the dog does not have medical or behavioral issues that would preclude attendance. If the foster is unable to attend, a volunteer may pick up and take the dog to the adoption show and thereafter return it to the foster.
•After you have a foster dog in your home, the Medical Coordinator will provide you with a copy of the dog’s medical records and rabies tag. The rabies tag should be kept on the foster dog’s collar along with a tag containing your name and address. If you plan to foster more than one dog, get a generic tag with your contact information so that it can be used for multiple dogs. The medical records and rabies tag should be provided to the adopter once the adoption is finalized.
•If your foster animal becomes ill or gets hurt, contact the Medical Coordinator immediately. CSAC covers routine medical expenses, but the Medical Coordinator must authorize treatments and medications for anything beyond the norm before they are administered. The Medical Coordinator must also approve the veterinarian caring for the animal. In emergency cases, when every moment could mean the difference between life and death, do not hesitate to take the animal to a vet immediately or to an emergency clinic if something happens after regular vet hours. Contact the Medical Coordinator as soon as possible, but do not wait to take care of the animal. We will work out emergency expenses. Know where your closest vet and emergency centers are located before you foster. Keep the numbers handy and accessible. The time to search is not when you are holding a sick or injured animal in your arms.
•Be careful what you tell potential adopters. Avoid giving advice and criticizing. Sing the praises of your foster dog instead of dwelling on the negatives. Also avoid answering questions with absolutes, and never answer questions you are not sure about. It is important that you not mislead inquirers as CSAC believes in full disclosure about dogs and any potential medical or behavioral issues. Ask for assistance when you don't know something. Tell inquirers you need to check and will get back to them as soon as possible. Always recommend that potential adopters do as much reading about animals and adoptions and about their breed, if applicable. Urge them to sign up for obedience training with a reputable trainer.
•Never turn over a foster to someone who claims it is his/her lost pet without irrefutable proof, and even then, the circumstances of the pet's loss must be carefully evaluated before any action is taken! This person could be mistaken, or he/she could be deliberately trying to mislead you. The animal could have been removed from his/her former home for all kinds of reasons. The claimant could well have mistreated the animal. Immediately report such claims to the Placement Coordinator, and we will investigate.
•If you find prospective adopters for your foster on your own, please make them aware of the application process, as well as the CSAC requirements and adoption fee. CSAC screens applicants very carefully. It is important that you do not promise your foster dog to anyone without going through the required checks and have approval from the Adoption Coordinator. First, a written adoption application must be submitted and evaluated. A veterinary check is made for all animals the prospective adopter owns or has owned. If the applicant rents, authorization must also be received from the landlord to confirm that pets are permitted. If the application and vet/landlord checks are good, a home visit is scheduled. If the adoption is approved, a contract must be signed and an adoption fee is paid by the adopters. The fee is $400 for puppies 1 year and under, $300 for dogs from ages 2 to 7, $250 for dogs 8 years and older.
•If you have any hesitations, peculiar feelings or "bad vibes" about the adoption or any of the people involved in the adoption of your foster dog or dogs, like the family seems great, except for the angry look on the father's face, do not allow the adoption to go forward! Say that the final decision is not yours to make, and a CSAC representative will get back to them as soon as possible. You do not have to take the heat for your instincts, but it is best to go with them. Try to determine what is giving you pause or making you wary, and take note of it.
•Be very familiar with the regulations and policies of CSAC. Most of all, remember that no one can be approved until their application is deemed acceptable, the vet check is satisfactory, and a home visit is completed, in that order. If the adopters are approved, the adoption contract must be signed by all the adopter(s) and a CSAC representative, with all information carefully filled out and checked by you. If any there are particular issues to be disclosed about the animal, like health or temperament concerns, or specific vetting arrangements agreed to take place after the adoption, an Addendum signed by all parties involved must accompany the Adoption Contract. The Placement Coordinator will let you know if an Addendum is required for your foster dog. Adopters must pay the non-refundable fee in cash or money order to CSAC either before taking possession or upon taking possession of the animal. Do not turn any animal over without the signed paperwork and appropriate fee in hand.
•If your foster dog remains with you for one year, you may adopt the dog at a discounted adoption fee to be determined by the Board of Directors. You do not need to adopt your foster after one year, but must continue to provide updated photos and bio information on a regular basis to show good faith efforts to have your foster adopted.
•Questions, concerns, comments, and/or ideas should be directed the Placement Coordinator - firstname.lastname@example.org.