As our dog rescue in Arizona does not have a typical “shelter” based operation, we rely solely on fosters to give our dogs a safe and loving place before being adopted. Fostering is a wonderful experience for you, your family, and the dog! You can feel good knowing that you helped to save a dog’s life on their journey to a forever home.
Fosters truly save lives. Here’s what you need to know.
How do I get started?
To ensure the safety of our dogs, we ask that you fill out the “Interest In Fostering” form. This contains basic information about you, your home, and your family. Once the application has been submitted, we can select a dog to fit your home and lifestyle. We will then schedule a meet and greet/home visit with the dog. We do require home visits for anyone wishing to foster to ensure our pets’ safety.
If the meet and greet goes well, the dog will remain with you and we’ll have you sign the foster contract.
By completing foster form and contract, you agree to all of the rules and requirements for fostering and adopting (explained below). While rare, do note that Underdog Rescue of Arizona may remove a pet from a foster/adoptive home for any reason deemed necessary to protect the safety of our pets.
What are fostering requirements?
- All dogs must be walked on a leash at all times, unless in the secure backyard of the foster or adopter’s home or in an enclosed dog park.
- All dogs must be INDOOR DOGS and live primarily inside the home with you. We do not allow any dogs to be kept as “backyard dogs” even if you have an outdoor dog house, run, or kennel or it is well-shaded. It is far too common for these dogs to escape their yards, pick up destructive habits, and/or become lost or injured. In addition, heatstroke is a common occurrence in dogs left outside, even with adequate shade and water, and some breeds are much more susceptible than others.
- Any aggressive behavior must be reported to Underdog Rescue as soon as possible.
- Any lost or missing dog must be reported to Underdog Rescue WITHIN 1 HOUR of becoming missing for the best chances of finding them again.
- Any sick or injured dog must be reported to Underdog immediately.
- All vet visits must be pre-approved in writing by our rescue.
- You further agree to respond to all calls or emails from Underdog Rescue of Arizona or potential adopters within 24 hours.
- If you plan to go on vacation or go out of town, notify Underdog immediately. If the dog will be going to a pet-sitter, boarding, or family member/friend during this period, they must also sign our foster contract for liability purposes and so we know the location of the dog. Any such person caring for the dog must also agree to our rules and requirements.
Can I foster if I have other pets or kids?
Yes! As animal lovers, the majority of our fosters and adopters already have their own pets.
Of course, it is important to keep in mind that there is always a small risk of personality clashes, which is why a meet and greet is a first necessary step for any foster/adoption. We do have some pets that are not good fits for houses with other pets–these pets have this clearly listed on their bios.
In addition, as many of our pet are obtained from shelter environments, we cannot guarantee the health of the dog. There is always a small risk of placing a foster/adopted dog that may have a health issue (fleas, ticks, worms, kennel cough, etc). These problems are usually easily treatable, though. As long as your own pets have been vaccinated and are in good health, the foster dog is not typically a threat to your household.
If you have children, it will be important to select a pet that is “age appropriate” for your children. As a general rule, we do not allow larger or high energy dogs with children under three years of age. We also do not recommend children under the age of 12 be left alone or unsupervised with any dog. You must also be diligent about providing guidance, instruction, and rules to your children about caring for a dog.
What am I required to provide as a foster?
We require fosters and adopters obtain collars and tags with their names and phone numbers on them. We can also provide these to fosters. The majority of our dogs are already micro-chipped.
We ask that fosters provide a loving and safe home, food, basic training, and exercise for the dog. We also ask that fosters provide the basic dog supplies (collars, leashes, bowls, beds, toys, treats, crates, etc). When possible, Underdog Rescue will try to provide these items, as we do get them donated from time to time, but that’s not guaranteed.
From there, we primarily ask fosters to treat the dog as if they were their own. We ask that fosters make the commitment to provide the same adequate exercise, play time, discipline, and basic needs to their foster dog as they would their own family pet. Underdog Rescue of Arizona will cover any and all medical treatment(s) that may be necessary for foster dogs. You will not be responsible for these costs. However, any medical treatments must be provided by one of our approved contracted vets, and must be approved prior to treatment. Any treatment done by anyone other than our contracted vets or without our consent will be solely at the foster’s expense.
How long are dogs in foster homes?
There is no definitive answer to this question. It completely depends on the dog, the situation, and the current rate of adoptions. The average stay in a foster home is about two months. Some have been adopted in as little as a couple of days; others may take up to a year or more. Dogs recovering from injury, certain breeds and senior dogs may stay much longer. Please consider this when making your commitment to foster.
Can I adopt my foster dog?
ABSOLUTELY!! We give our foster parents first choice to adopt their foster dog before any other applicant. Many fosters become “foster failures” (in a good way) and go on to adopt their foster dogs. Note that we often hear, “I know I will find it too hard to give them up, so how can I NOT become too attached to my foster dog?” Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent this. You will most likely find it difficult to see them go. As an animal lover, it is normal and to be expected. This dog has become part of your lives and your family! You will most likely shed tears when your foster pup goes to their new home…. we all do.
However, to foster also means to be able to let go, knowing that when you do, your dog is going to another awesome home where they will be loved and cared for. It will also open another space in your home to save yet another dog in need that may not otherwise have been saved. No matter how difficult it can be to see them go, this will always make it worthwhile.
How do fosters find adopters?
We use a variety of means to promote our adoptable dogs in Arizona. Each pet has photos taken and a bio written up. These are posted on our website as well as various pet adoption sites, like Petfinder and Adopt A Pet. We also participate in adoption events where our pets gain even more exposure. We encourage fosters to attend these events with the dogs to help promote them. We also invite fosters to promote adoptable pets to their family, friends, colleagues, and the general public through fliers, emails, or even just by taking your dog to the dog park or a local bar wearing one of our “Adopt Me” bandanas!
Do I have to crate or kennel train my dog?
While we do not require that any dog be kennel trained, we strongly encourage all fosters and adopters do so, especially in multiple animal homes, at least initially. Since we often do not know the background of our dogs coming into rescue, it is reckless to assume that new dogs in such an environment will be “fine” when left alone.
Crate training is one of the most effective and efficient ways to housebreak and train a dog. While there are some that see kennel training as “mean” or “cruel,” we have learned from our trainers over the years that it is the best method of creating a happy, well-adjusted dog. In fact, once crate trained, the dog will see their kennel as a safe haven to lounge, sleep, or chew on their toys.
Placing a dog in their kennel when you are gone will also give you peace of mind knowing that they are in a safe place, away from harm, and not doing any damage to your belongings or themselves. A crate should never be used as a place of punishment. This is how dogs come to associate it with a negative and undesirable place. Our volunteers have extensive experience with crate training and can direct you on how to use this method to train your dog. Please do not hesitate to ask us for help!
Do I need to have prior medical experience to foster?
No, but you may be asked to dispense medicine to your foster dog at some point. Please make sure you are comfortable following veterinarian’s instructions.
What if my foster dog becomes sick?
All medical and veterinary costs for fosters are paid for by Underdog Rescue of Arizona. If a foster dog becomes sick or injured, please contact us immediately! We will authorize a vet visit and advise you how and where to proceed.
What happens if my foster dog gets lost?
All pets should have collars and tags with their names and phone numbers on them. The majority of our dogs are also micro-chipped.
However, if a foster pet becomes loose, you are required to CONTACT UNDERDOG IMMEDIATELY!!! We cannot stress this enough. You must contact us within one hour of the pet becoming missing. We can quickly form a search party, if necessary, as well as alert the rescue community to keep a lookout for the dog. We also have substantial contacts at all county shelters, so we can make them aware that one of our dogs is missing. Volunteers at the shelters can also keep their eyes out for the dog should they be picked up by animal control. We also encourage you to review and use all resources provided by Lost Dogs Arizona here.
Please do not ever feel uncomfortable or ashamed to call and inform us that your dog is lost. We are always more than happy to assist in finding them and providing tips on how to prevent it from happening again in the future.
Am I allowed to go to the dog park?
If your foster dog is deemed “dog-friendly” and you are confident that you are able to keep control of the dog under vocal command, we support visiting dog parks. Dog parks are an excellent place to provide exercise, play, and socialization. We can often recommend several dog parks close to your residence.
Do note that we do not recommend dog park visits within the first two weeks of placement, until the dog has learned to respect your authority and commands. Please be sure to exercise caution, keeping the dog leashed initially until you are sure that the dog will respond and return to you upon command. Further, there are times when a dog may be placed in foster prior to vaccinations and altering (spay/neuter). In this case, we would not permit dog park visits, as unaltered dogs are often not permitted in the parks and unvaccinated dogs can easily pick up diseases. In addition, we strongly advise against any park visits for any dog that has recently had surgery or a medical issue, until they are fully recovered.
How can I help my foster become more adoptable?
There are many ways to help your dog become more appealing and adoptable. First and foremost, put the time into making them a “home friendly” dog. This includes housebreaking, basic obedience, crate training, leash training, socializing, doggy door use, etc. Each of these attributes can make the dog more desirable and increase their adoptability. Shy dogs will benefit from your patience, routine, and slow exposure to new people to build their confidence. Rambunctious adolescents or puppies who learn good manners will help show off their trainability and long-term potential.
We also ask that you provide great photos and an extensive bio of the dog after they have been with you for at least a week. We will then update their information on our adoption websites. As their foster parent, you will know the dog best!
You will be able to convey their greatest attributes, problem areas, and personality traits. This will help us give prospective adopters detailed information about the dog. We can also set up photo shoots with our volunteer photographers once your dog is settled in!
Finally, market your dog! If no one knows about your foster and how wonderful they are, it will be difficult to find them a forever home. Tell friends and family about them, creating a network effect, and ask them to spread the word! Email and social media are extremely effective tools to getting the word out. Other simple steps include taking them on walks in the park, outdoor shopping areas, and other high-traffic areas to find potential adopters. Be sure to equip them with an “ADOPT ME” bandana!
Am I responsible for finding my foster dog its forever home?
No, but we do need your help! Once we identify a qualified adopter, we ask that our foster parent schedule a meet and greet with the dog and the potential adopter. Your quick response and input on the potential adopter and home is critical to finding a great match! Our leadership can help coach you on things to look for during this visit.
Oftentimes, it is also the foster parent who finds a perfect match through their own network of friends, family, and colleagues. We greatly welcome these referrals! If you think you have found the perfect forever home for your foster dog, remember, they still must go through the application process and be approved by the rescue before being adopted.
What if I have to go out of town?
First, please consider this factor when agreeing to foster. Unfortunately, our Arizona dog rescue does not have the funds to cover boarding and sitters each time a foster goes out of town. It is instead the responsibility of the foster to set up an acceptable place for their foster dog during this time. If given enough notice, we can sometimes find another foster or volunteer to foster-sit for short durations. However, we reiterate here that you treat the dog as if they were your own, especially if you have other dogs.
If you would typically bring in a dog-sitter, we ask that the foster dog be included. If your dog(s) would typically go to boarding, we ask that the foster send their foster dog along with the other(s) going to boarding. If your dog(s) typically stays with a family member or friend, we would ask that the foster dog go along as well. This will minimize the dog’s anxiety of being moved to an unknown environment without the comfort of the companion(s) they know and reduce the stress that will arise with your leaving.
Please note: Simply leaving the dog in your home and having someone “visit” a couple of times a day to let them out or walk them is NOT acceptable. You must have an acceptable “live-in” petsitter or place the dog(s) in an acceptable boarding facility where they will be cared for 24/7 in the same manner they are accustomed to.
Can I return my foster dog?
Underdog cannot simply move or pick up a foster, as we are solely foster-based. Fostering means a true commitment to the pet whatever it may come with, be it good or bad.
For these reasons, we need foster parents who can continue to work through the fostering process until a permanent home is found for their dog. We ask that before you agree to foster ANY pet for Underdog, you are absolutely certain that you are 100% committed to doing so. Many of the pets we intake are from the county shelter, with little to no information on their background. Therefore, oftentimes we have no idea what we are getting. Fosters need to be aware of this and not expect a “perfect” pet.
Fosters bring warmth and love to a home, but they may also:
- Not be housebroken
- Have behavioral issues
- Not be good with dogs, cats, or children
- Have had zero obedience training
- Be high energy
- Have known or unknown medical conditions
(The only caveat to these is if dog is outwardly aggressive and a risk or danger to the public at large. The first thing we do in this case is have the dog evaluated, most importantly for a medical cause. If it is determined medical is not the reason, then we would weigh an evaluation by a trainer and vote as a Board how to move forward.)
Note that it is extremely stressful for a dog to be returned and moved to yet another new or strange environment. Any work you have done could easily be un-done. This is especially true for behavioral issues. A dog that has behavioral issues in your home will most likely have the same issues in any home they are moved to, and it would be best to work through these problems if possible. PLEASE ASK FOR OUR HELP!! Simply moving the dog to a new home will not help the dog overcome these issues to become a well-adjusted pet.
If your foster has behavioral issues, we can provide a trainer to make them more adoptable. If it is discovered the dog is not dog or cat friendly, you will need to work with the situation to keep the dog separated from other pets. Some dogs come ill or with medical issues, and you must commit to working with whatever those situations may entail as well.
In short, by agreeing to foster, it is expected that you will work with the issues that a pet may come with until the pet is adopted. Again, there is absolutely no way to simply “find a foster” or move a dog for a foster who changes their mind after beginning to foster. Fosters are required to find suitable alternative placement for the pet if for ANY reason they decide they can no longer foster. To reiterate, as a foster, you are aware and agree that you are fully committing to the dog regardless, until adopted. That means you are committing to this pet while recognizing there is little we know about the dog prior to rescue. This means committing to what we know about the dog and, more importantly, what we don’t.
We understand that this is asking a lot, but this is the only way we can run an efficient, stable, and successful rescue. Please consider this in your decision to foster.