Why Fostering Pets Is Important and Why You Should Try it Too

Maxine Penny/Sparkle

We just started fostering in May 2023 and it has been an amazing experience so far! My husband and I were trying to figure out if we wanted to be dog owners and if having a dog would fit into our lives with young kids or if it would just add more stress in our lives. Of course, dogs are more work, but I was also pretty sure that it would be a good stress that I wanted to take on. My husband wasn’t so sure that it was a stress that he wanted to add to our lives, so we agreed that we could foster a dog to see how it went and if it felt like too much.

First foster puppy
Our first foster dog was a puppy. Maxine, was adorable and so sweet, but definitely was more work because she still had to be potty trained and she started play biting our kids. Even though she was playing, the bites still hurt my kids and left some scratches. It was really hard to let Maxine go because we already loved her in spite of the biting and accidents in the house. It ended up being for the best because an awesome couple adopted her so that was the perfect outcome for Maxine!

Second Foster Dog AKA “Foster Fail”
Our second foster puppy just came to us in the beginning of June, but she already feels like part of our family and is just so sweet and easy to love! She came with the name Sparkle and the kids and I loved her right away. She now is a nightly participant in tucking our daughter into bed. She cuddles with us as our daughter falls asleep. She also supervises my husband and I while we work from home. She is an excellent cuddle buddy while we’re curled up watching a show or a movie. She also loves going for walks, so it has been fun to see her explore while we’re on walks. She loves people so it’s cute how many people she makes smile while we’re out walking. Needless to say, Sparkle has been a very positive addition to our lives in the past few months. We loved her so much that we decided to adopt her and renamed her Penny because she is copper colored.

I would say that my favorite part of the fostering process has been the great support that we have received from the fostering organization and community with great feedback about our concerns and great answers to our questions. It’s also nice that everything we need for the dogs is included for free through fostering since we didn’t have anything for them before we started fostering. Fostering is a bit like a training process before you have the commitment of officially adopting. You win because you get to grow and learn and the dog wins because it has a safe home with people to take care of them and love them before they find their forever home!

The Statistics:

On a national scale, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) approximates that 6.3 million pets enter shelters in the United States every year with about 4.1 million of them being adopted.

Taking a look locally, the Minneapolis Animal Care & Control (MACC) website states that the City of Minneapolis had an adoption rate of 31% over the last few years. 22% of the animals were returned to their owners, and 28% of the animals were transferred to other facilities. Out of these animals, 19% ended with humane euthanasia.

Animals end up in shelters for many different reasons. The MACC website reported that of the pets brought to them, 43% are stray, 26% are surrendered, 16% are wild and 16% fall into the other category.

Why these statistics matter
The message has been spread for awhile now that it’s better to adopt dogs to help save lives, but the types of animals that are available to foster or adopt come from a variety of backgrounds, experiences and ages. People are allowed to set parameters for the types of animals that they’re willing to foster or adopt. People can say no if they don’t feel comfortable with a particular situation or animal.

Helping without the lifelong time or financial commitment
Sometimes people can’t afford a pet or they can’t make a lifelong commitment to taking care of an animal, so fostering can be a great way to still get to care for animals and be around animals without having to take on financial commitment and the lifelong commitment to care for the animal.

Exploring different pets before officially committing
Fostering is a great way to explore different ages and breeds of dogs without having to commit to one. You can see what age and personality traits are well suited to your home and your personality, and what you are and aren’t willing to put up with a pet. For me, a puppy wasn’t as good of a fit as a slightly more mature dog who is already potty trained and doesn’t bite so much.

Exploring if pet ownership is or is not for me
I grew up having different kinds of pets, but I wasn’t sure if having a dog was a good fit for our family right now with little kids and if we could handle more responsibility than we already have. I have been pleasantly surprised to find that the dogs we fostered really have overall felt like they enriched our everyday lives more than they added stress. Being honest, however, they were some moments with a puppy that felt like too much to me so the older dog seems to fit our lifestyle better.

One thing that has been beneficial for me is that the foster organization has been very helpful with any questions or concerns that have come up and almost helped “train” me as the caretaker so I feel more able to take on the responsibility as we chose to adopt Penny. Some people end up paying someone a lot of money for the help that is a normal part of the fostering experience. The fostering community has been AMAZING to work with and very kind and supportive!

Making a difference in the world in the lives of people and animals
One of my favorite parts of fostering so far is feeling like I’m doing something that is helping other people, the animals, and feeling like I’m contributing something positive to the world in a small way.

How you can help:

Spay/neuter your pets to help control the pet population (as Bob Barker from The Price Is Right always said).
Link to learn more:

-Foster or adopt a pet
There are so many great organizations out there where you can foster or adopt a pet. There are non-profits and government organizations that you can foster through. Here is a link to the Animal Humane Society’s website to find information about fostering: https://www.animalhumanesociety.org/volunteer/become-foster-volunteer

-Volunteer at a local animal shelter or non-profit
Link to learn more:

-Donate financially to an animal shelter or non-profit
Link to learn more:

Other Resources:
Everything You Need to Know About Animal Fostering:

Things to Know Before Fostering a Dog or Cat:

Pet Fostering Application for the City of Minneapolis:

Find a pet to adopt:

Pet Adoption Checklist:

Find Your Perfect Pet Match:

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