Could you open your heart, and your home, to a dog in need?
You can make an immediate and lasting impact on the life of a pet in need as a Dog Foster Care Volunteer at Lollypop Farm. We are currently seeking volunteers to welcome foster dogs into their homes–temporarily–while they heal from surgeries and receive lifesaving medications. They’ll get much-needed time in a home environment with you before they’re ready to become available for adoption.
“I started fostering Torr in early 2017. He came to the shelter and tested positive for heartworm, so he would have to be in foster care for several months while receiving treatment. He also had to come back to the shelter regularly for heartworm treatments and to receive medications for his multiple allergies. After caring for Torr in my home during this time, I absolutely fell in love!” – Bayley W., Foster Care Volunteer
Fostering dogs in your home saves lives and frees up space in the shelter for other dogs so that we can help even more homeless and abused pets in our community.
All potential foster volunteers must first fill out an application on our website. You will then be contacted by our Foster Care Coordinator to sign up for a foster care training course here at Lollypop Farm. Please note: New foster applications are closed until October.
Foster care volunteers must be 18 years of age or older. Younger children can help their parents care for foster animals in the home, but the primary care of a foster pet must be the responsibility of an adult.
In order to foster pets in your home, all of your resident pets must be up-to-date on vaccinations. You must also have an area for separation in the event that your foster pet becomes ill or is in need of rest or quiet time. We do not recommend leaving a foster dog alone with resident pets or free roam the house when you are not present. A fenced-in yard is not required, however, a foster dog must be leashed at all times while outside and always supervised.
Foster care volunteers are expected to provide daily care for foster pets and follow any guidelines that are given by the Foster Care Coordinator. In most cases, foster pets go home on some type of medication, so volunteers must be willing to medicate according to the directions provided by Lollypop Farm staff. Foster care volunteers are expected to drive the dog to and from the shelter for any scheduled appointments, and are also responsible for notifying Foster Coordinators of any medical or behavioral issues that arise after the pet leaves the shelter.
Some of the most common reasons that dogs may need foster care include: temporary medical conditions like heartworm, orthopedic issues, and post-surgical healing. Transported puppies from the South also often go into foster homes for a minimum 2-week quarantine period before becoming available for adoption.
Quarantine is a specified time period during which a foster pet is separated from other animals to see if they are incubating any contagious diseases before becoming available for adoption. This is often necessary for puppies transported from the South. There are strict guidelines to keep a quarantined pet in your own yard for outside breaks and out of public areas. Foster care volunteers caring for pets during a quarantine would be responsible for observing for vomiting/diarrhea, lethargy, or any other symptoms noted by a Foster Coordinator. Foster care volunteers would also be responsible for alerting a Foster Coordinator immediately should such symptoms arise.
Because animals are often surrendered to shelters like Lollypop Farm with sparse or unknown medical history, there is always a risk that any animal is harboring an illness that was not detected upon initial examination. Therefore, we always recommend you keep your foster animals separate from your own pets, especially for the first week you bring them home. We also require that your own pets are up-to-date on all vaccines.
Email addresses of interested foster care volunteers will be added to a Google email group that is strictly for foster volunteers. When a dog is in need of foster care, a Foster Coordinator will send out a plea that will go to every individual listed in this email group. Foster pleas generally include: a photo of the dog, the reason foster care is necessary, any medications the pet is currently taking, an estimated length of time in foster, and any important history, restrictions, etc.
Foster commitment time varies depending on the reason for foster. For example, dogs with heartworm disease have a time commitment that varies from 4-6 months due to the required treatment methods. Foster care because of orthopedic issues can range from 2-4 months depending on the procedure that was done and the speed of the healing progress. We do ask for a minimum of 4 weeks for all foster care scenarios.
As long as we have the necessary supplies on hand, Lollypop Farm will provide you with anything that you need for your foster dog, including food. All foster animals are under the care of Lollypop Farm veterinarians, so all vet care and vaccinations will be done at the shelter. The only time outside vet care is given is if the dog has a referral from our veterinarians to a specialist, or if there is an emergency when the shelter is closed. In which case, foster care volunteers would be expected to use Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Services in Henrietta. In most cases, foster care volunteers will not pay out of pocket for VSES visits.
The number of times a foster pet must re-visit the shelter is dependent upon the type of treatment that pet is undergoing. Foster care volunteers will, however, be expected to bring an animal to the shelter for vet checks if the pet gets sick, or requires any scheduled appointments or procedures. The average is 3-4 trips to the shelter, but could be more or less depending on treatment and progress.
Yes! We strongly encourage foster care volunteers to name their foster pets, as this is a great way to bond. Foster Coordinators will even make sure the pet’s name stays during their time at the shelter and until they are adopted. Of course, we cannot guarantee that the pet’s new adopter will not change their name.
We understand that despite everyone’s best intentions, sometimes things don’t work out. If something like this were to happen you, we ask that you contact your Foster Coordinator via email or phone as soon as possible, and they will set up an appointment for you to return the animal. If the change is a result of a behavior you noticed, please let us know – this information can help us determine a better fit for a foster home and eventually an adopter. We will try to find you better match for you next time around!
All foster care volunteers are given the first option to adopt their foster animal! If you find a friend or family member that wants to adopt, let a Foster Coordinator know and provide them with the name and contact information of the potential adopter. A Foster Coordinator will be able to give you an estimated time in which the dog can be adopted, and all adoptions must go through the standard Lollypop Farm adoption process.
Every animal sent into foster care opens up a spot at the shelter for a new animal, so foster care volunteers are saving lives! Additionally, many animals benefit from a home setting rather than the shelter, especially if they are recovering from a medical procedure. Fostering at home can decrease stress and it helps us learn what that pet will be like in a home setting. The more information we have on each pet, the better matches we can make with new families!