foster guidelines

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1. Socialization

2. Basic Training

3. Medical Care and Monitoring

4. Adoption Days

5. Exposure

6. Dog Profiles


1.  Socialization

Many of the dogs that are rescued by hart are new to a home and will need your patience while learning about this foreign environment.  Elements that we and our resident pets may take for granted such as a fan, the beeping of a microwave or stairs might be unfamiliar to a foster dog.  With your help, a foster dog will become comfortable with a home and learn the rules associated with being in a home.   

Once you have built trust with your foster dog, it is important to provide opportunities for your dog to explore new people, places, sounds and things.  Interact with other people, dogs, cats etc., as appropriate. Introduce them to car rides and different ground surfaces. We encourage you to incorporate a foster dog into all aspects of your lifestyle including visits with family and friends as well as trips to dog friendly environments.  Please use your judgment when introducing a foster dog to these new experiences and only do so if they are suitable for the temperament of the foster dog.  Your patience and positive reinforcement will keep the new experiences positive for your foster dog. 

Off-leash areas can be a great deal of fun but, as unexpected situations can arise (rabbits, aggressive dogs), we prefer not to have our hart dogs off-leash.

2.  Basic Training

hart has volunteer trainers, professional trainers, and behaviorists who will work with you and your foster dog to ensure adoptability.

While the dog is in your care, we expect that some basics can be worked on such as housetraining and crate training.

hart dogs are often new to a home environment and therefore are not familiar with house rules or doing their business outside.  In most cases, older dogs will not want to make a mess in the area that they will be sleeping, but they will need your help to figure out where to go and how to let you know that they need to go outside.  Puppies will need your help to learn what acceptable behavior is.  The more consistent you are with housetraining procedures, the quicker your foster dog will figure it out.  Please be realistic though, there will be accidents with older dogs and puppies alike. 

hart provides crates for all dogs and we strongly recommend that you crate train.  The crate offers the dog a safe place to retreat to as well as keeping your home safe when you are not available to supervise the dog.  hart cannot be held financially responsible for damage to your home which may occur as a result of fostering.   While your foster dog may not take to his/her crate immediately, in time, he/she will come to recognize the crate as a safe place and their own space.  Crate training is a very desirable trait from the perspective of potential adoptive parents.

Please ensure that the dog is supervised carefully when in your backyard to prevent any attempts to escape.  Many of these dogs are not familiar with the idea of a backyard and may want to roam further.  hart dogs are issued an identification tag that must be worn on their collar in case an escape occurs.

3.  Medical Care and Monitoring

Dogs that are rescued by hart come to us in all states of health.  Some of the dogs that we rescue may be very healthy, however, others may come to us malnourished, sick or injured.  hart veterinary partners provide medical care and advice on health related issues.

When dogs are initially rescued, they are assessed for obvious issues, and based on their age given medication for worms, flea/lice, mange and their first round of vaccinations.  Once the dog arrives at your home we ask that they not be bathed for 48 hours to give the flea/lice medication time to take effect.   It is strongly recommended to keep them away from your pets for this 48 hour period (as well as carpets and rugs) and to wash all used bedding in hot water after the 48 hours have passed.  It is important to pick up each bowel movement immediately and dispose of the fecal matter for the next 10 days to avoid spreading worms to other dogs. 

A quarantine period of  2 weeks  will take effect when the foster arrives at your home where the dog is to have limited contact with other animals outside the home.  During this time frame, please observe the dog's health and behavior closely and keep the dog on your property and away from public areas.  It is important that your resident pets have their vaccinations up to date and are not ill when bringing a new foster into your home to protect your pet's health. Your foster dog is not to be out in public until the quarantine period has passed and the second round of shots have been given to protect your new foster dog's health.  (Adult dogs receive just one round of vaccinations.)

As a foster parent we will need your help to transport the dog to and from veterinary appointments if an appointment is necessary and to set up times with hart's medical coordinator to administer the second round of vaccinations and schedule spaying or neutering. 

 If a veterinary visit is deemed necessary by our medical coordinator then all costs for necessary medical procedures will be paid by hart when the dog is taken to a hart veterinary partner and the visit has been pre-authorized with our medical coordinator. 

All hart dogs, without exception, will be spayed and neutered.  This procedure will take place after the two week quarantine period to make sure there are no other medical concerns.  Scheduling of the spay or neuter is also based on the dogs age as well as the vet and hart schedules. Pediatric spays and neuters are performed on puppies generally as early as 8-10 weeks.  The medical coordinator will advise you of which vet you can take your foster to for the spay/neuter, and you will be able to schedule an appointment that works for you.

4.  Adoption

Once an animal is rescued, it is hart's priority to find them a loving, safe and stable life-long home.  Adoptions are not approached on a "first-come, first served" basis, instead hart works through a multi-step adoption process to find the best match for the dog.

The dog will be deemed ready for adoption once the two week quarantine period has passed and he/she appears to be medically stable.  If a dog is adopted before the second round of medications the financial responsibility of those shots fall to the new adoptive family.

If an adoption should take place before the spaying or neutering, we will make arrangements with the new adoptive family for the procedure to be done at one of hart's veterinary partners at hart's expense.

It is important to bring your foster to hart adoption events once the quarantine period has passed and he/she has received the second round of shots (adult dogs need only the first round of shots but do require the Rabies vaccination before going to Adoption Days at Petsmart).  Being out in public gives your foster the best chance to be adopted.  If you cannot attend an event, transportation and handling of your foster at the event can be arranged.   However, as you know your dog best, it is preferred that you attend and answer questions and keep your foster comfortable.  We ask that your foster dog attend at least one adoption event a month. 

hart's photographer will contact you to arrange for photos to be taken of your foster dog so that your dog can be featured on hart's website and facebook page as soon as possible.  These photos ensure successful adoption interest. The photos can arrange to be taken at a vaccination party or an adoption event.

"Adopt Me" vests are given to each foster dog and we ask you to have your foster dog wear this vest to adoption events and out in public at all times.  The adoption vest will be signed out by you and will need to be returned to hart when the dog is adopted.

5.  Contact with hart

While you are fostering with hart, you can expect to receive calls or emails from more than one volunteer.  We have many areas of responsibility and volunteers may be calling you for different reasons such as arrangements for medical appointments, Adoption Days, special events, food and supplies and status updates. 

We will attempt to keep in regular contact with you to check in but will also be relying on you to keep hart informed of how things are going with your foster dog.  Whether it is run of the mill or remarkable, please keep us informed.  In order to best pre-screen potential adopters we need as much information on your foster dog as possible.  You will be asked to fill out a dog profile form within 2 - 3 weeks of getting your foster dog and we ask you to update it as your foster dog evolves in your care.

Should a hart volunteer contact you to ask if you can take on a new foster, we almost always need to know within 24 hours.  We understand that situations occur that might prevent that from happening but we need to hear back from you as soon as possible.  Often there is a dog in precarious circumstances during that period of time. 

6.  Support

As a foster parent, you are never alone.  We are more than happy to answer any questions that you have. 

When you open your home and your heart to a rescue dog, often you are giving the gift of a new life filled with warmth and happiness.  Fostering can be challenging, but the rewards of knowing that without your help an innocent dog may have suffered or died are far greater.  

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