It is very important for the success of the dog and his new family that dogs completing our behavior development program have exposure to ‘typical’ home and family experiences. We provide a limited amount of “in-home” exposure at Pets Return Home. We test and coach for good food manners, crate training and possessive aggression. The most important social interaction and training comes from being in a foster home.
We provide foster opportunities for these homeless and damaged dogs that last TWO weeks to several months depending upon the dog’s need. We provide training and food during the initial foster term. Once the dogs are achieve adoption-ready status they are returned to the sponsoring rescue (or individual) for placement through their organization.
Foster Program Information
Pets Return Home began its foster care program in May 2013. Since then, the program has saved many dogs whose only outcome was death. The Foster Parent Program plays an integral part in Pets Return Home’s ability to save hundreds of lives per year and build as many families each year. Without fosters, these behaviorally challenged dogs would not learn how to love, be loved and behave within a family home.
Most of the dogs at Pets Return Home come from animal control facilities, aka pounds or shelters. Many were on the euthanasia-list, slated for death due to being ‘unadoptable’. Our experience shows these dogs are victims of human abuse, neglect and ignorance. The life-deciding assessment of being put to death typically takes place in a stressful shelter environment in as little as five minutes. Very few of the dogs that come here are human or dog aggressive. They are mostly afraid.
We receive these dogs from animal rescue organizations, sponsors or shelters directly. We assess and define a formal training plan for the dog to ensure family adaptability. Our intent is to receive only kill-list and behaviorally challenged canines into our program. By taking these “unadoptable” dogs, we provide a means for the rescues & shelters to maximize their life-saving and foster-parent capacity.
Our facility provides behavior development and refinement, exercise therapy and dog-to-dog socializing. These provide the foundation for the dog to learn the appropriate and safe behavior to be a loving companion within a family. The next and most crucial step in reforming these dogs is foster parent care in a family and home setting. Pets Return Home has different foster programs to prepare our dogs for a new life.
How the Program Works
Our foster program is atypical in that we have clearly defined levels of foster care based upon the dog’s behavior patterns. This is because the dogs that come to us are in dire need of ‘resetting’, specific socializing, and developing trust and confidence. We identify specific behavior issues, work with the dogs on energy release, dog-to-dog socializing, food issues, house manners and some command language. The first stage of foster care for a dog is the Foster-Assess Program.
We provide the necessary training to foster families wishing to foster our dogs in this program. This program lasts from one to four weeks and is primarily behavior reinforcement and assessment.
The primary goal of this program is to measure and assess the dog’s performance as a companion pet within a foster home. The foster-parent works with the dog on command language and house manners. The foster-parent sends daily reports to Pets Return Home so we can assess the progress and offer specific guidance.
This program is the dog’s final exam from our behavioral development program. It is the most important aspect of the overall program. It helps determine whether the dog is ready for public interaction, if further training is required, delivers valuable canine insight to the foster-parent and provides a safe learning environment for the dog.
Transitional Foster Program
When the dog has proven her capability to live within a family appropriately, we enroll her in the Transitional Foster Program. This program provides the reinforcement of family companion status for the dog. It increases the opportunity for human and canine socializing and exposure to possible adoptive families.The dog is ready for adoption at this point. This program duration typically lasts one to two months.
Rehabilitative Foster Program
Some dogs are so “damaged” they need long-term family care to develop confidence, trust and learn how to be a companion. These dogs may be fearful, shy or old and require more attention-giving environments. We work with rehabilitative foster program foster-parents one on one to ensure the dog is making progress and the parents do not experience burnout. Sometimes rotating the dog from different homes over many months is beneficial and leads to permanent adoption and life.
Types of Dogs in need of Fostering at Pets Return Home
- Neglected, stressed or abused dogs who have completed Pets Return Home’s program
- Dogs that require more human socializing than available at Pets Return Home
- Dogs with special medical needs
- Injured or recovering from surgery
- Older dogs that will be more comfortable in a home environment
- Puppies too young and/or immature to be adopted
- Abandoned mothers with litters of puppies
Please download this form, complete it and email to us to apply for foster-parent approval.
Download Foster Application
Sterilization (Spay/Neuter) Policy
Any family adopting or fostering a dog from or for Pets Return Home must understand that we have specific guidelines for successful adoption or fostering. To qualify for adoption or foster, an applicant must complete and pass an application review and have a household with sterilized dogs only.
Statistically, 50% of all dogs, purebred and mixed-breed arriving in shelters are killed. This does not count the number of dogs that are killed upon arrival to a shelter because of injury, aggression or illness. Shelters cannot handle the influx of dogs they see daily. Animal rescue organizations (ARO’s) do their best to help pull healthy dogs and rehome them to responsible, stable and loving homes. The only way to stop the number of dogs euthanized killed is to educate the public about the importance of sterilizing their dogs and to stop careless breeding.
One of Pets Return Home’s goals is to inform and educate the public in the overpopulation crisis. Pets Return Home stands firm on requiring sterilization of all dogs in the potential adoption or foster household before we approve an adoption or foster care situation.
Some people are unaware of the unwanted overpopulation crisis we are experiencing due to unaltered dogs. Others may feel they are responsible, will not breed their pet, or prefer to keep their dog in a ‘natural’ state.
We ascertain the reason(s) a potential adopter or foster has a non-sterilized dog. If it is within our guidelines, we will discuss the situation, determine if there are verifiable and justifiable reasons and approve the home for adoption or foster status based upon our findings. Some of the common exceptions to our guidelines include:
- The dog is AKC registered and being actively shown for their championship
- Pets Return Home will respect the owner’s right to breed a dog only if the dog has obtained its AKC championship and the person is a responsible breeder who breeds to ‘better the breed’ and who does not over-breed.
- The dog has health issues where sterilization is not recommended.
- The dog is too young (< 6 months) to be neutered.
We hear many people say they do not spay or neuter their pet for many reasons. Spaying and neutering does not make an animal gain weight or lazy. Once sterilization occurs, hormones decrease and the dog becomes calmer. By maintaining a consistent and challenging exercise program, all dogs hold a healthy weight and attitude. Males become more tolerant, reduce their aggressive episodes and have very little desire to roam. Spaying and neutering greatly reduces the risk of cancer in the female, (uterine and mammary) as well as pyometra, a serious infection of the uterus, and in the male greatly reduces the chance of testicular cancer. The younger the dog is neutered the lower the risk of these diseases.
Please understand that our goal is to adopt or foster all dogs to or in homes that support the importance of breaking the cycle of unwanted pets. Adopting or fostering a dog with us not only carries the responsibility of doing the best for the dog, but also joining a community of people committed to reducing the unnecessary killing of healthy adoptable dogs.
If there is any doubt to the overpopulation issue, a visit to any shelter should be sufficient to educate the overpopulation crisis problem we face. Ask the shelter how many dogs come in daily and how many dogs are killed weekly.
This experience will increase your awareness of the problem we face as moral individuals respecting all life.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long are dogs in foster homes?
It completely depends upon the dog and the situation. We try to expedite the foster-assess candidates and foster time can be as little as two weeks. More typically it is three to four weeks. For the transitional program the the average stay in a foster home is about two months. However, most puppies and some dogs with great photos and stories on the web may stay only a few weeks. Others, recovering from an injury, certain breeds and senior dogs, may stay much longer.
If I have my own animals, can I foster dogs?
Yes, so long as all animals cohabiting with the foster dog have passed a meet-&-greet test..
What supplies do I need to foster?
Dog foster-parents provide space, food*, basic training, exercise, socialization, and love for the dog. Pets Return Home will provide you with all the other supplies and equipment needed throughout your foster experience. Pets Return Home receives donated items regularly and donations pay for vet care and medicine.
How much time will I spend each day to foster?
Commitment and responsibilities depend upon the individual dog and situation. Many of the dogs at Pets Return Home are “adolescent” dogs between the age of 6 months and 2 years. They typically have a lot of energy and require daily exercise. This is in addition to helping them become familiar with home living. Older dogs may only need a morning and evening stroll. You are always welcome to bring the dog to the ranch for visits, swimming, hiking etc.
Dog foster-parents must be willing to be patient and commit to the dog because our goal is to keep them in a stable and consistent environment until they are ready for adoption.
Do I need to have prior medical knowledge or expertise?
No, but you may be asked to dispense medicine to the foster dog so you will have to be comfortable following veterinarian’s instructions if fostering a sick or injured dog.
Do I have to crate-train my foster dog?
YES! It is one of the most efficient and effective ways to house train a puppy or re- train an adult dog. A dog coming from Pets Return Home has already learned that a crate is her safe place, her den. Putting the dog in a crate while you are gone will give you peace of mind knowing that they are in a safe place, away from harm, and not doing any damage to your belongings or themselves. For many dogs, a crate represents a safe and comfortable place to call their own and provides them with a sense of security. Dogs like having a “den” to be their own safe zone. Crating should never be used as punishment.
What if my foster dog becomes sick?
The foster dog’s sponsor or Pets Return Home pays all veterinary costs through sponsors and donations. If a foster dog becomes sick, dog foster-parents must call Pets Return Home immediately. Pets Return Home will authorize a vet visit, or advise otherwise. Once a veterinary visit is authorized, you can make an appointment with one of the approved veterinarians. There is no cost to dog foster-parents.
Can I take my foster dog to an off-leash dog park for exercise and socializing?
NO!No dog from Pets Return Home is to be taken to an off-leash dog park. While these parks can be fun for some dogs, there are far too many unknowns for it to be a safe and healthy experience for a foster dog. Diseases are easily transmittable and the temperaments of visiting dogs are unknown, thus creating a huge liability to Pets Return Home.