Animal shelters and rescues are overwhelmed with the number of animals they have to oversee. Getting the community involved in caring for these animals through fostering and adoptions eases the burden from these animal welfare organizations. This also ensures that the tax dollars are allocated appropriately, staff are not burnt out from the sheer workload that comes with caring for all the animals, and proper attention is given to animals that need it most.
Amy Yeager leads this discussion to talk about Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control’s foster programs. Amy has been with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Care & Control for 16 years, where she served in various roles within the unit and is currently its Foster/Rescue Coordinator.
Points of her discussion include:
- An overview of the CMPD Animal Care and Control – their mandate and 2020 metrics.
- How foster programs create the best outcomes for the animals, the foster parents, the adopters, the community, and the agency.
- The benefits of foster programs in terms of:
- Saving the animals’ lives and keeping them out of stressful shelter environments.
- The animals learning real-life and social skills, showcasing their best selves, and having the foster parents gather information on the animals which are valuable for adopters.
- How shelters are meant to be a temporary stopping point with stressful conditions not ideal for prolonged stay.
- Reasons outside our control causing animals to stay in shelters for prolonged periods and barriers within our control that can be re-evaluated to align with the agency’s mission.
- Overcoming these barriers so as to not turn people away, lose the community’s trust and keep animals in a less-than-ideal shelter environment.
- How opening up the foster programs to all adoptable cats and dogs and letting fosters choose and pick the animals results in…
- More engaged foster parents and adopters, and animals moving out of the system faster.
- Easing of the shelter staff’s workload and more adoption ambassadors.
- Creating trust and promoting inclusiveness and compassion within the community.
- A rundown of the different foster programs that the CMPD implemented.
- Foster to adopt catered specifically for heartworm-positive dogs that need to undergo treatment.
- Behavior foster program for dogs, cats, and rabbits that display behavioral quirks.
- Medical foster for almost any type of animal with health issues that the shelter can treat.
- Neonatal kitten program that allows foster parents to take newborn kittens home to be monitored by the shelter’s medical team every two weeks.
- Short-term fosters that allow dogs to go for a day-out (daycation) or up to five days with a foster home (staycation) which typically serves as a trial period for adopters.
- R&R foster programs to provide care for up to six months while gathering health and behavior information on the animals and setting up meet-and-greets for potential adopters.
- The channels that CMPD Animal Care and Control utilize to post animals open for fostering and adoption real-time, communicate with potential foster parents, and send important updates and information.
- The difficulties with foster programs in terms of program management and finding fosters particularly for the long-timers and challenging animals.
- The value of unicorn fosters who must be appreciated for willingly taking in challenging animals and serving as adoption ambassadors within the community.
Questions raised by the webinar attendees are on:
- The liability of the shelter when sending the animals to foster families.
- Requirements, background, criminal history, and home checks to be approved as a foster parent.
- Statistics on animals sent to foster, kept in the shelter, for adoption, and on hold for eviction and medical cases.
- The foster application template and developing the process.
- Re-engaging foster parents who haven’t taken in animals recently.
- Preference for Trello vs. other social media platforms.
- Communicating best practices and important updates with the foster network.
- The process of adopting animals out of foster homes.
- Fostering highly adoptable dogs.
- Managing the medical needs of animals in foster care.
- Time frame to return fostered animals back to the shelter.
- Recommendations for dog-to-dog introductions.
Other Webinars in this Series Include:
- Recruiting the Next Generation to Your Agency
- Staycations and Daycations – Building Short Term Foster Programs
- Building and Maintaining a Productive, High Volume Fostering Program (this webinar)
- The Care, Nurturing and Enrichment of Tame & Feral Volunteers
- “I really liked the option about the staycation! I am hoping to incorporate that within my organization…” — Erika
- “The fostering program at my shelter is new and I am new to the shelter field so any and all info on how others handle their programs is very helpful to me! Doing meet and greets with foster dogs is one of the greatest hurdles I deal with when sending home dogs so learning that it may not be necessary is SO HELPFUL!! I am excited to see your handout and possibly try changing things.” — Kelly
- “I enjoyed learning about how Trello is used to provide more transparency and real-time updates on placement status. …” –Katherine
- “It was interesting to learn about the Short Term foster options being used at CMPD Animal Care & Control, as this seems like a great resource for lowering return rates due to an animal not fitting into an adopters lifestyle. …” –Mary