Fostering for SRGA
Thank you for your interest in becoming a Foster Home for Sheltie Rescue of GA, Inc.! SRGA relies heavily on our volunteers' assistance and judgement, even before a dog comes into our rescue program. If you decide to help, it will be a commitment that provides many rewards. There's a lot to know, and we learn more with each dog we rescue. In fact, we encourage you to share your experiences and insights with us to be passed along to future volunteers. The following information should give you a good idea of what is involved in volunteering for Sheltie Rescue of GA, Inc.
Adoption... An Overview
People interested in adopting a Sheltie from Sheltie Rescue of GA, Inc., are asked to complete an online application, before undergoing a rigorous phone screening. Generally one of our more experienced volunteers carries out this initial screening. A volunteer will also follow-up with all references, including the required veterinary reference. Prior to final approval, a home visit will be scheduled with one of our volunteers. We try to have that volunteer be the foster home, but sometimes, due to location, we may ask one of the other volunteers to do this. As a volunteer, you may be asked to assist with any of these.
Once the application is approved by a Sheltie Rescue of GA, Inc. Board Member, and assuming there is a Sheltie in rescue that might be a good match, the applicant's information is sent to the family fostering that particular dog. Arrangements are made between the foster family and the applicant to meet the dog at the foster family's home. It is preferable to have all members of the applicant's family available to meet and interact with the Sheltie. If all are in agreement that the home for the Sheltie is suitable, a "hold" is placed on that dog. If multiple approved homes are interested in the same dog, we generally try to allow all of them the opportunity to meet the dog in question prior to us making a decision, as it is our goal to make the best possible match for each of our dogs, not necessarily to send them home with the first interested party. Normally, we ask the adopters to wait 24 hours to make their decision, but this is flexible.
Upon adoption, the new family signs two copies of the adoption contract, the foster family initials the contract and Sheltie Rescue of GA, Inc., accepts an adoption donation. The Sheltie Rescue of GA, Inc., representative (you, the foster home) also gives the adopters copies of all vaccination and medical records. (See the record keeping section). The foster family has first choice on adopting the dog and reserves the right to make the final choice on which of the prescreened homes actually adopts the dog.
Before Fostering Begins
Our Foster Home screening process is as thorough, if not more so, than our Adoptor screening process. All potential volunteers will need to complete the same Adoption Application as all adopters, plus you'll need to answer the supplemental questions in the Volunteer Application. We will follow-up on your references and schedule a home visit. A Sheltie Rescue of GA, Inc. representative will visit your home to help evaluate your situation and determine what type of Sheltie would fit into your lifestyle most easily, just like we do for someone wishing to adopt from us. Once approved, you will be asked to complete a Foster Home Agreement. If you have other pets, it is very important they be current on all vaccinations before you begin fostering. This includes vaccinations against rabies, parvovirus, and kennel cough (or bordatella). Your dog(s) should also be on preventive Heartworm medicine. If you have dogs that have not been altered, please be sure we know this, as many rescued Shelties are still intact.
Fostering... The Basics
Assuming you are approved to be a foster home, you'll take a rescued Sheltie into your home and care for him or her as you would your own pet, providing food, shelter, companionship, basic training and exercise, arranging for any required veterinary care, and supplying generous amounts of patience and love. The fostering period can last anywhere from a few days to several months. Some Shelties may not get along well with other dogs, cats, or children, and may take longer to place. Your evaluation of the Sheltie's character, temperament, and training level are invaluable; the more we know about a dog's habits and behavior (positive and negative), the easier it is to match him or her to the perfect owner.
The first priority for a Sheltie coming into rescue is to see that all vaccinations are current. A heartworm and fecal test is done and the dog is placed on preventive heartworm medicine. The next step is to arrange for the Sheltie to be neutered or spayed and treated for any medical problems that have been found. Sheltie Rescue of GA, Inc. has established favorable pricing with several area veterinary clinics, and you may be asked to help with transport for these visits, though SRGA will cover the costs. If you are not able to transport a dog, other volunteers will be called upon to help.
The Sheltie's Background
A rescued Sheltie may have come from a shelter, been a stray, or had a very wonderful home. Surprisingly, the dog coming from a previous home may show the most stress, as she or he has been accustomed to a particular environment and routine, and may suffer a loss of security when thrust into a new situation. A stray dog or one coming from a shelter often adapts to new situations more readily.
Easing The Stress
Almost every Sheltie has been through some ordeal before being rescued. The dog may have been in a shelter, housed under less-than-ideal conditions in the original home, been tied outside, reprimanded too much or not at all, or have been homeless and subject to many stray dog experiences. Whatever the history, the Sheltie may be unsettled both physically and emotionally upon arriving at your home. Quite often dogs will mirror their environment; it helps to initially limit distractions around the house such as television, loud noises, and children's activity levels. Rescued Shelties need large amounts of reassurance, attention, and affection every step of the way. Patience is a key attribute of our best foster families.
Signs of temporary stress include shedding, panting, pacing, general restlessness, increased water consumption, and a more frequent need to urinate. Sometimes the excitement of a new home and surroundings can cause the rescued Sheltie to forget it was previously housebroken. Monitor water intake and give frequent opportunities for potty breaks for the first several days. Until you are sure the dog is housebroken, leave a short leash attached to the collar for quick exits, and confine the dog to one or two rooms initially, so you can more easily monitor any accidents.
Safety and Separation
One of your most important tasks is to provide a safe environment for the rescued Sheltie. This means always walking the dog on a leash when outdoors or closely monitoring if in a fenced area to be sure he won't try to jump over the fence. Until the dog bonds with you and your home (generally a couple of weeks), there is a greater risk he will try to run away.
It is important to proceed slowly when exposing the Sheltie to its new environment. If there are other animals in your home, introduce them slowly and individually to the Sheltie. The entire first day may be one of separation. This enables the foster dog and your current dog or cat to become aware of each other's scent without having to directly "confront an intruder." The second day may be one of introduction, usually requiring the use of a leash for both dogs while they meet each other nose-to-nose for the first time.
Carefully monitor children's or other pet's interaction with the Sheltie and watch for signs they may be suffering from over-stimulation. Be prepared to initiate "Time Outs" and separate the Sheltie quickly if play becomes too rough. Do not leave the rescued Sheltie alone with children or other animals until you have thoroughly evaluated the dog's temperament. When leaving the house, always separate the Sheltie from your other animals until you have gained complete confidence in their relationship.
Sheltie Rescue of GA, Inc., encourages the short-term use of crating for many rescue dogs. This helps dogs adapt to their new environment more quickly, can help in monitoring level of housebreaking, protect furniture from younger or more "chewy" dogs, and also give the Sheltie a small place of his own where he knows he is safe.
For health reasons, some Shelties may need to be separated from other animals for several days when they first come into rescue. This can also mean you must carefully monitor and immediately remove feces from your yard to avoid contamination or spreading disease (such as worms) to your own pets.
As a foster family, you help "socialize" the Sheltie and make him or her more adoptable. This can include helping the Sheltie learn to trust people again, as many dogs may have been abandoned or abused. You may also teach or reinforce basics like housebreaking, commands such as Sit, Come, or Stay. Some Shelties may have been through an obedience course and some may come with absolutely no clue about what is expected. Sheltie Rescue of GA, Inc. places these Shelties to be indoor dogs, but some of them have lived outside all their lives. You must acclimate the dog to indoor living and teach appropriate "house manners." Never use physical punishment. If you're having trouble correcting a behavioral problem, contact Sheltie Rescue of GA, Inc., to discuss alternatives. Keep in mind that some adult rescue dogs need more care and attention than a puppy.
You are responsible for monitoring and maintaining the health of the Sheltie in your care. This includes feeding a quality dry food such as Natural Balance, Taste of the Wild, Blackwood, Kirkland or another premium brand food, providing monthly heartworm medicine (the cost of which is reimbursed by Sheltie Rescue of GA, Inc.), and watching for any sign of illness or other condition that would require veterinary care (such as vomiting, worms in the stool, coughing, ear infections, etc.)
Sheltie Rescue of GA, Inc., reimburses all medical expenses; however, veterinary care should first be discussed with a Sheltie Rescue of GA, Inc., Board Member. Our general rule of thumb is that you should not authorize the veterinarian to spend more than $50 without consulting with a Board Member. This is our biggest expense and we have established favorable pricing with several reputable clinics. As a general rule, we are not able to reimburse other expenses such as mileage, phone calls, dog food, toys, etc.
You, the foster home, MUST keep accurate records of veterinary care. The original medical records will be given to the new adoptive family and a copy will be given to Sheltie Rescue of GA, Inc. at the time of adoption. A permanent record is maintained by Sheltie Rescue of GA, Inc. You are responsible for making copies and for mailing them to the appropriate person. After adoption, you will mail the adoption check, copies of the medical records, a copy of the adoption form, any other paperwork you were given when you received the dog (new owners are not given copies of this information), and receipts for any reimbursements you have not received. You must also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org informing us that the dog was adopted, who adopted it, their phone number, and any follow-up that may need to be performed.
Supplies You Will Need
Some things you will need on hand: a long leash, dog grooming brush, chew and play toys appropriate for Sheltie size dogs, premium quality dog food, water and food dishes, and a method of confining and/or separating the dog (either crating, closing doors, or putting up gates to certain rooms). Loaner crates are available from Rescue as are leashes & collars.
If Things Don't Work Out
Sometimes, a situation just does not work out. Support or advice from other experienced foster families is always available. If a Sheltie cannot adapt to a particular situation, Sheltie Rescue of GA, Inc. will place the dog in a new foster home immediately. We're just a phone call away.
If you feel that fostering a Sheltie is right for you, please complete our online Adoption Application and Volunteer Application. If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Once you have been approved to become a Foster Home, you will be asked to print and complete a Foster Agreement Form.