Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Beagles need foster parents: Why you should foster a dog

Every once in a while, I get an email from someone who needs help. For one reason or another, they can't keep their beagle. They need a new home for him or her.

They're never easy emails to take, for all the depressing reasons, but also for one more: the beagle rescues in our area barely have any room to take in more.

Foster parents are essential to rescues. They save lives.

Courtesy Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue
We talked to Nate, who coordinates foster parents for Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue. He says the need for fosters is really serious.

"The number of dogs we can take in and make available for adoption is limited by the number of foster spots we have available," Nate said.

"In other words, we are forced to turn down potential intake because we do not have foster space available."

Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue is a 501(c)3 pet rescue that takes in beagles and beagle mixes, not just in the Tampa area, but all over Florida. They are the primary beagle rescue for Central Florida. The majority of dogs they take come from kill shelters. That means they need people to work with them all over the state. There are maybe three other beagle rescues throughout the state.

Why don't more people foster pets?
  1. Worries about time
  2. Worries about space
  3. Worries about children/other pets
  4. Worries about cost
  5. Worries they will not be able to let the pet go.
Snoopy is a senior beagle girl looking for a home through Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue.
Nate said that last one is the biggest fear he hears from prospective foster parents.

"The first one (to say goodbye to) is often the worst one," Nate said. "If you go into fostering with a temporary mindset, it makes it SO much easier to see them adopted. Think of it like dog sitting for someone you haven't met yet.

"I can fully appreciate the importance companion animals play in our lives," Nate added. "However the need is very substantial.  I ask people to consider if doing nothing is really easier than a small amount of emotional turmoil."

So why should you foster?
  1. You are saving two lives: The pet in the shelter, and the pet who will take that space. The fewer pets in the shelters, the slimmer the chance they will be put to sleep.
  2. The pet gets to be in an environment where they can feel safe. Shelters are stressful places -- cold floors, loud noises, confined spaces. Pets are already very unhappy. And unhappy looking pet is less likely to be adopted.
  3. You can help smooth out a pet's rougher edges, which will also make them more adoptable.
  4. Want a dog but not sure you or your family are ready? Fostering gives you a way to sort of "test drive" different breeds, teach your children how to live with the pet, and see if you can handle caring for a four-legged friend. 
Chance is a beagle girl with Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue looking for a home.

How do you become a foster? Well, the first step is to find a rescue or shelter you want to work with. You can work with a breed-specific rescue, or find a rescue that takes in all kinds of dogs.

"The application process is similar to the review we go through for someone looking to adopt," Nate said of Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue. "We do a  phone screen and consult with the landlord, if applicable.  We do a vet check if there are existing animals in the home, and we ask for two references."

Think your home isn't right to bring in a foster pet? Let the rescue be the judge of that. I told Nate that I live in a one-bedroom apartment with a dog and a cat, and I was surprised by the answer.

"Absolutely," he said. "We do our best to meet these types of constraints. We would try to give you a dog we know at least a little bit about so we can try to give you a dog that is less vocal, ok with cats, and not in need of as much outside exercise."

Noah is a happy beagle boy looking for a home.
"The most important criteria in a prospective foster is a passion for animals and a desire to help," Nate said. "It is extremely helpful if they are willing and able to attend events regularly.

And how long will you have a foster pet? That all depends on the dog.

"There is no set recipe for how long it will take but the average for us is about two months," Nate said. 

However, if you don't want to do that, you could be a temporary foster -- a volunteer who helps out on weekends or during the holidays or times when volunteers are on vacation.

So -- think you want to help?

Here's what Nate says you need to do:
  1. Fill out an application.
  2. Go through the approval process.
  3. Make sure you explain to the rescue exactly what you are able to do up front. This way they can match you with the best pet possible. 
  4. Be prepared to pay for food and pet supplies. All of this is tax deductible though. The rescue will pay for all medical care.
Not wanting to work with beagles? There are rescues for every type of dog out there. My suggestion? Head to sites like Adoptapet.com or Petfinder and see what rescues are in your area. Also, consider going to your local shelter to ask about their foster program if they have one.


  1. Really a wonderful article and a wonderful organization. I love TBBR. Thank you for publishing this and letting people know about the need for fosters.

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  3. I love my beagle. He's a rescue. He had many homes in 1 year prior to our rescuing him. He's a pure bred. That's 2 homes and I'm 3rd adoptee from pound. So sad, i didn't know all this until I was signing the papers. I was taking him anyways. However, it saddened me his first year of life was so unstable. That was 6 years ago and he's great our family wouldn't trade him. I'd do it again for a beagle or even pitty. Thanks

  4. Great article and answers so many questions. We fostered a beagle for a few weeks and it was an awesome experience.


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