Vision Hills Sanctuary
Foster Parent Program Guidelines

If you are considering taking on the rewarding and incredibly helpful task of fostering a homeless animal for Vision Hills Sanctuary, we ask that you carefully review the following guidelines, in addition to the Foster Parent Application which you will be asked to fill out and sign.

Foster parents and families form the backbone of the work we do. We cannot exist as a rescue network 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 VHS and the animals we are trying to save.

To make your fostering experience as positive as possible for you, your family and your furry charge, please review the following before bringing him/her home:

1. Arrange to introduce the new animal to your own pet(s), if you have them, outside in neutral territory, and with the assistance of a VHS representative, if necessary. Once inside, it is best to situate the foster animal in a secure enclosure 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.

2. If fostering a dog, use a collar and leash to walk them for at least a week so he/she cannot get away, and/or run off. When introduced to a new environment, the dog may have a notion to “find their way back home,” so a certain amount of acclimatization time is necessary for them to consider your home theirs.

3. If you should find prospective adopters for your foster on your own, please make them aware of the application process, as well as the VHS requirements and adoption donation. VHS screens applicants very carefully. First, the written application is evaluated. Then a veterinary check is made for all animals the prospective adopter owns or has owned. If the application and vet check are approved, a home visit is scheduled. If the adoption is finally approved, a contract is signed, and an adoption fee is paid to VHS by the adopters. Remember that not every prospective adopter is approved, and sometimes other applications may be pending. 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.

4. Before taking a foster animal, ask about the animal's history and behavior, age, gender, temperament, 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 surrender, a victim of abuse or neglect, etc. Share any inquiries you may receive on your own with the foster coordinator or the VHS contact person for the animal.

5. Never turn over a foster animal 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 a VHS board member, and we will investigate.

6. Although typically provided by the foster family, VHS can lend you the necessary breed and/or species-specific supplies if necessary. Whenever you transport an animal, make certain you have him/her on a leash, with a secure collar, or in a secure carrier. If you plan to foster on a regular basis, it would be a great help to VHS if you could get a secure enclosure and other necessary supplies of your own. Make sure the animal has ample room in the enclosure 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.

7. Foster families typically provide food, treats and chew toys for foster animals, without reimbursement from VHS. Some pet stores will donate food for foster dogs, so it is worth contacting local pet stores like Petsmart and Petco about this. Fosters may also be asked to participate in transporting animals or assisting in house checks. VHS will provide the necessities if the fosterer cannot do so.

8. If your foster animal becomes ill or gets hurt, contact the VHS Medical Coordinator immediately. VHS has set up a foster discount at our recommended veterinarian; however, beyond that, foster families typically assume all medical expenses. 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 VHS Medical Coordinator as soon as possible, but do not wait to take care of the animal. 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.

9. Be careful what you tell potential adopters. Avoid giving advice or criticizing. Also avoid answering questions with absolutes, and never answer questions you are not sure about. Do not mislead inquirers. 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 research about animals, adoptions and care, and about their breed (if applicable) as possible.

10. 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 animals – 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 VHS representative will get back to them as soon as possible. Try to determine what is giving you pause or making you wary, and take note of it.

11. Be very familiar with the regulations and policies of VHS. 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 VHS representative – with all information carefully filled out and checked by you. If 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. Adopters must pay the non-refundable adoption fee to VHS 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.

Beyond these guidelines, any questions, concerns, comments, insights and ideas should be directed to a member of the VHS board.

Again, thank you so very much for your willingness to consider fostering a rescued animal until a loving home can be found. Your compassion and caring are both a rarity and a gift!