Hi Carly! You are a very busy woman here at the Fred SPCA! It’s so nice to sit down and catch up with you and hear the great things that the Foster Department is doing! Would you like to introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do here?
Absolutely! I first came to Fredericksburg to attend UMW and quickly became involved in their PAWS Club. This club allows students to volunteer for animal rescues in the surrounding area. Of course, one of the organizations we worked with was the Fredericksburg SPCA! I quickly became involved by volunteering at various events, helping out around the shelter, and fostering. I have fostered about 40 animals from the Fred SPCA and fell in love with the program. I was ecstatic when I saw that the Fred SPCA was hiring for a Foster Coordinator and jumped at the opportunity. I love being a part of the Fredericksburg SPCA’s mission and seeing our foster program thrive.
What does the Foster Department do at the Fred SPCA?
The Foster Department places as many animals into foster homes as possible. Not every animal is successful in a shelter environment, so we prefer to have them in a nice, cozy home to relax in. Animals can be sent to foster care for several reasons, including age, socialization, behavior issues, medical concerns, or even just for a break from shelter life. We have about 600 animals that go into foster care every year. We usually have about 60%-80% of our animals in foster care at a time, so our fosters are a critical part of our life-saving mission.
What is a day like in the life of the Foster Coordinator?
I spend a lot of my time doing foster appointments. Fosters can make appointments to pick up an animal, drop off an animal, get an animal a vaccine, or pick up supplies. I make sure that foster families have all of the information and supplies they need for a successful stay. The Foster Program also provides various training opportunities for our “Fred Foster Fam”. As Foster Coordinator, I also take shifts being on call for our emergency foster hotline. We have a staff member on call 24/7 to support our fosters and make sure our animals get the care they need if an emergency ever arises!
I know spring is a busy season for you guys – the birds are singing, the weather is warming – that means…?
Springtime is always super busy in the animal rescue world! When the weather starts getting warm that means the babies are coming! We have already had several litters of puppies and kittens come into our care over the past several weeks. This will continue throughout the warmer months. We also get a lot of neonatal kittens which need to be bottle-fed every couple of hours. These are the most vulnerable animals that come to our shelter, so we make sure to give them the best care possible. In the springtime, we make sure to keep our foster closet full of needed supplies as they go quickly! We don’t allow animals under 8 weeks old to spend the night in our shelter, so they must go into foster care the same day that they arrive. This keeps the foster department super busy finding placement for all of the little babies!
There’s always a ton of adoption interest when we mention puppies and kittens, but tell us a bit about what goes into them behind the scenes before they are available for adoption.
Any time an animal comes into our care they are given an intake exam and age-appropriate vaccinations if necessary. We have animals of all ages in our care, anywhere from newborn to senior! Once they get their intake exam, we send them right into foster care. Our foster parents make sure they give them the care they need and help provide socialization for our young animals. Puppies and kittens are required to have vaccinations every two weeks, and our wonderful foster families bring them in for vaccination appointments as needed. Once they are old enough they are spayed/neutered and made available for adoption! This is when you will see them on our website and the public can put in applications for them.
What is the most needed type of fostering around this time?
The most needed type of fostering right now is dog mom and baby fosters. In the spring, we see a lot of pregnant dogs as well as sets of dog moms and babies. It is crucial for young puppies to stay with their mom, so we must have fosters able to take in these families. A lot of people may feel overwhelmed by the idea of fostering a momma dog and a whole litter of puppies. However, in these cases, Mom does most of the work! Other than making sure pups are appropriately gaining weight, the mom usually takes care of everything else! We also provide any supplies or needed training for our foster families. Plus, we have wonderful Case Managers who will help you out every step of the way if you have any questions and a vibrant and supportive online community of other fosters to share their tips & tricks (and cute photos)!
What does the time commitment look like for mom & baby or puppy & kitten fosters?
The time commitment for these types of foster cases depends on the age of the puppies and kittens. If they are newborn, it can be up to 8 weeks, however, sometimes we need just a week or two time commitment as they are almost ready for adoption! Once mom stops nursing, our young animals stay in foster until they can be adopted. At this point, we usually split the litter into pairs and send them to different foster homes. Again, we don’t allow animals under 8 weeks of age to spend the night in our shelter, so we must get them placed into foster care the day they come in. We usually try to have foster families on standby for when we have these types of cases come at the last minute.
I would say our most asked question is what do fosters have to provide for their foster animals?
Our foster families provide a home for our animals to be comfortable in and all of the tender love and care. Everything else you will need is covered by the SPCA. We will make sure to send you home with all of the supplies and training necessary for your foster experience. If fosters ever run out of supplies while fostering, they can make supply pick-up appointments to get whatever they need!
If someone has never fostered moms and babies, what advice would you give them?
The best piece of advice I can give to any first-time foster is to ask for help when you need it. We are there to support you and make sure both our animals and our foster families get the best out of the experience. When we send animals into foster care, we don’t expect foster families to be able to handle every situation or concern they may have regarding their foster animals themselves. Between myself and our amazing Case Management team, there is always someone there to answer any questions! Plus, we have a private foster Facebook Page, which is full of seasoned fosters and staff who are always happy to give advice and share experiences!
What are the benefits of fostering moms & babies?
Fostering Moms and babies is such a rewarding experience! These foster families can provide care for multiple animals at a time and it is amazing to watch them grow up, especially if you take them home as a newborn. Many fosters have reported that it is an amazing feeling to take in young puppies and help get them to the point where they are adoption-ready. Plus, who doesn’t love to get in all of the puppy cuddles? Fostering dog moms and babies means a pile of puppy cuteness! Also, fostering is only a temporary experience! If you adore puppies, but don’t have the means to adopt this can be a great way to get your puppy fix!
The burning question EVERY foster has: “what if I fall in love?”
Sometimes while fostering, we come across an animal that we just can’t live without. Foster families spend a lot of time with their foster pets and create an incredible bond. My family has adopted two of my fosters, so I have personal experience with this! It is always hard to say goodbye to fosters, but remember that once one of your foster pets is adopted that means you can help out another one! That being said, when you know….. you know! Several of our staff members at the SPCA have adopted one of their fosters at some point in time. We are always ecstatic to hear when our foster families decide to adopt one of our animals as we know they will be going to a wonderful home! One benefit of being a foster is that you get the first chance at adoption before an animal becomes available! If you are fostering an animal that is already available for adoption, you have up to 3 days to alert your Case Manager. In other words – you get first dibs!
If someone wants to sign up to foster, what do they have to do?
To become a foster for the SPCA, just go to fredspca.org/foster and fill out the form. Once you are registered, you will be sent an email with all the information you need to begin fostering with us. You are welcome to join our foster Facebook Page to see when animals need foster placement and then make an appointment for pick-up. All you need to do is bring a photo ID and you are all set to bring home your first foster animal! I also contact fosters directly when an animal requires placement if you do not utilize Facebook. I am always excited to see more foster families join our Fred Foster Fam and set them up with a foster animal that is a great fit for their home!
If anyone has additional questions, who should they reach out to?
If anyone has any additional questions about our foster program they are welcome to contact me. They can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me via phone at (540)898-1500 ext. 27.