fbpx

Fostering: the British system

In Great Britain fostering is considered an essential stage in the pre adoption process, as well as providing a fundamental support network for independent rescues. Only a very few greyhounds or lurchers go straight into homes from the tracks or from dog pounds, added to which only a few rescues have access to the kennel spaces required to accomodate large numbers of dogs, so the availability of foster families can often mean life or death for a rescued dog, since in GB like elsewhere a dog only has a limited amount of time in a public dog pound before being put to sleep, if he is not adopted or claimed by a rescue. Every day I read appeals from rescues for foster families to take on dogs who have just been rescued from British or Irish race tracks or pounds, or overcrowded Irish rescues, who just don’t have room for them. Luckily someone usually comes forward to help within the local rescue’s circles – indeed that is how I myself had my first fostering experience two years ago. To foster greyhounds or lurchers in the UK, first of all you need a bit of experience with sighthounds, better still if you already have one or more of them. Other medium or large sized dog breeds are ok too, preferably if they have a calm and well balanced temperament, but it’s always helpful (though not essential) if there is at least one other sighthound in the household, to help the new boy or girl settle in. Then your house or flat will need to have a secure garden, with fencing not lower than 6 feet (some sighthounds are escape artists and high jumpers), and if you have children they should be preferably over 10. The most important thing though is to be prepared to love and care for the new dog as if he or she were your own. In the UK vet and food bills are normally covered by the rescue, although some foster carers prefer to provide their own food, in order to reduce the rescue’s expenses. Usually the foster families choose the dog they would like to foster which is most suited to their own circumstances, following the advice of the rescue, who normally have at least a basic knowledge of the dog (if he has only recently arrived for instance). Then comes the homecheck, which is the same for both fosterers and those seeking to adopt, the signing of the fostering agreement documents – which normally include among other things agreeing to keep the dog on lead in public places, and muzzled when outside the home until his reactions to smaller breeds of dogs have been well assessed and deemed safe – and that’s it! Foster carers could be either volunteers who already work for the rescue, know the system and are familiar with sighthounds, or rescue members, supporters, or simply members of the public who would like to help – as long as they are deemed suitable by the rescue and pass the required homecheck. Some rescues will not allow the dog to be left alone for more than 4 hours a day, thus excluding families where all members work full time, while others are more flexible, maybe matching a dog who does not suffer from separation anxiety with a person who may even work full time, but has another dog to keep the fostered hound company, and in any case trying to match the right dog with the right individual, couple or family. Sometimes, dogs that are considered ‘easy’ to look after and who don’t have any particular behavioural issues might even be fostered by families who have no other dogs, who may be interested in sighthounds but are still unsure whether they are ready to adopt for life yet, and would like to get an idea of what it actually involves. For these people fostering is an excellent preparation for adoption, and they are often the most likely to become ‘failed fosterers’ – i.e. they decide to adopt the dog themselves! Clearly in that case they would still need to pay the regular adoption fee to the rescue, for fostering does not confer any particular privileges – apart from the obvious one of being able to care for one of these special hounds for a while! One of the duties of the foster family is to keep the dog’s profile updated by posting photos and comments about his or her character, and how she is settling in, onto the rescue’s Facebook page (or sent by email to the rescue), some of which are usually then used by the rescue to create or update the dog’s profile on the website, on the ‘dogs seeking homes’ page. Also, the foster family must be available for home visits by prospective adopters who would like to meet the dog, which are normally arranged by the rescue, and they agree to periodically attend walks or events such as ‘meet and greets’ organised by the rescue to publicise dogs seeking homes, who would need to wear the rescue’s own ‘I need a home’ vests for the occasion. It was after having just organised a home visit from a couple interested in viewing our latest fostered greyhound Wiki that we decided we couldn’t bear to part with him and adopted him ourselves! Luckily the couple ended up adopting another greyhound from the same rescue, so two dogs found permanent homes instead of just one! There are two main types of fostering, temporary and long term (although in effect both are ultimately temporary of course). Temporary fostering – also known as stop-gap fostering – usually lasts a set number of days or weeks, typically up to two weeks max, and is normally used either for dogs whose usual foster families may need to go away on holiday, for work, or for hospitalisation, or for dogs that are in kennels during holiday periods such as Christmas or Easter, when many volunteers and kennel assistants might be away. Temporary fostering is an excellent introduction for those who may be interested in the process but don’t want to commit to long term fostering just yet. Long term fostering lasts until the dog is adopted, which can take from a week to a couple of months or so, with an average of around 3-6 weeks in most cases, unless the foster family decides to keep the dog themselves, which is what happened to us after barely a week! The length of the fostering period also depends on the dog and the kinds of issues he might have, and also on the information and photos provided by the foster family. Photos of a happy, relaxed dog enjoying life in a home environment tend to reassure potential adopters that the dog is clearly already used to living in a home without too many problems, much more than photos of a dog in a kennel, who is still a relative unknown, of course, in terms of his behaviour within the home. By posting frequent updates, as well as arranging a meeting with interested parties to see the dog and discuss things with them, a good foster family can really enable potential adopters to make an informed decision as to whether the dog is right for them and their family or not. I would say that the secret of successful fostering definitely consists in having an open heart and a welcoming home, being flexible and willing to follow the rescue’s advice when needed, and being prepared to love and care for the dog as if he or she were your own. One should also expect to shed a tear or two when the moment comes when you have to say goodbye – consoled however by the knowledge that your gift of fostering may not only have contributed towards saving the life of a dog, but has also prepared him to settle in happily and with a high chance of success with his new forever family. It may be true that a piece of one’s heart goes with each foster dog who leaves with his new family, but there will always be more dogs needing the special love and care of a foster carer, and the experience of fostering not only deepens one’s knowledge of sighthounds in general, but also profoundly enriches the lives of those who have lived it. by Isobel Deeley

Tags: , ,

Presidente e socio fondatore di Pet levrieri dalla data di fondazione. Svolge questo ruolo in maniera totalmente gratuita. Nella vita svolge la professione di psicologa e psicoterapeuta. Per crescita personale si è formata e diplomata come educatrice cinofila presso la scuola SIUA. Ha svolto il corso professionalizzante per la gestione della ricerca e del soccorso di animali smarriti, organizzato da Pet Detective. Ha iniziato a scoprire quello che accade ai greyhound nel racing in seguito all’adozione della sua prima grey, Silky, nel 2008. Da qui il suo impegno civile antiracing e anticaccia in difesa dei greyhound, dei galgo e dei lurcher. Sposata con Massimo Greco, altro socio fondatore di Pet levrieri, condivide con lui questo impegno.
Insieme condividono la loro vita con sette cani, tutti adottati: Cabana, galgo spagnolo, Zen, grey salvato dal cinodromo di Macao, King, grey salvato dal mercato della carne in Cina, Babe, grey irlandese, Barney, grey irlandese, Lucy, grey irlandese, e Adhara, una meticcia. Nel cuore sempre presenti i tre grey Silky, Blackie e Rob, che sono stati straordinari amici e ambasciatori della causa.

×

Membro del consiglio direttivo di Pet levrieri. Nella vita è Direttore delle Risorse Umane di una multinazionale del settore IT. Per passione personale a luglio 2020 conseguirà il titolo di educatore cinofilo presso la scuola Il Mio Cane.net. Ha partecipato al corso di gestione della ricerca e del soccorso di animali smarriti organizzato da Pet Detective. Nel marzo 2014 adotta “per caso” Sandy, greyhound irlandese e scopre la dura realtà dei levrieri sfruttati nelle corse e nella caccia decidendo così di impegnarsi concretamente nell’Associazione.
Coordina lo Shop Online, collabora con il gruppo Adozioni nelle visite di pre-affido e nelle attività post-affido, partecipa come portavoce di Pet levrieri ad eventi di informazione e divulgazione delle attività dell’associazione. Vive a Milano con il marito Massimiliano, i figli Giorgia e Marco, la grey Sandy, la lurcher Robin e Yughi, un meticcio di oltre 15 anni. Svolge i suoi incarichi in Pet levrieri a titolo assolutamente gratuito.

×

Vice Presidente e socio fondatore di Pet levrieri, laureata in scienze politiche internazionali, gestisce un’impresa di consulenze turistiche. In Pet Levrieri si occupa in particolare delle relazioni con la Spagna e dei profili dei galgo e si reca più volte all’anno nei rifugi spagnoli per conoscere i cani e stilarne i profili. Fa parte del team che amministra sito e pagine Fb dell’associazione.
Ha adottato la galga Debra nel 2011. Venire a contatto con la realtà dei levrieri rescue l’ha spinta ad approfondire il discorso e a impegnarsi attivamente a favore dei grey, galgo e lurcher sfruttati e maltrattati in tutto il mondo. Oltre a Debra vive con due cani meticci, salvati da situazioni di abbandono.
Svolge i suoi incarichi in Pet levrieri in maniera totalmente gratuita.

×

Membro del consiglio direttivo e socio fondatore di Per levrieri, dove si occupa dell’organizzazione logistica degli eventi e del merchandising. Nella vita è titolare di un laboratorio odontotecnico dal 1990. Da sempre appassionato di cani, il suo primo cane è stato un setter irlandese. Sposato con Marianna Capurso, anche lei socia fondatrice di Pet levrieri, condivide con lei l’impegno antirancing e anticaccia in difesa dei levrieri. Accanto al presidente di Pet levrieri, ha partecipato alla prima conferenza mondiale sui greyhound in Florida nel 2016. Ha partecipato a molti corsi organizzati da Think Dog e Siua. Perle è stata la sua prima greyhound. Nella sua vita ora ci sono Peig e Inta, due lurcher, e Karim, greyhound salvato dal cinodromo di Macao, e Ricky, un pinscher, che è la mascotte di tutto il gruppo. Svolge i suoi incarichi in Pet levrieri in maniera totalmente gratuita.

×

Membro del consiglio direttivo di Pet levrieri. Nella vita è una pasticciera. Dal 2014 a seguito dell’adozione di Rosie, una greyhound irlandese ha conosciuto la realtà dello sfruttamento dei levrieri. Da qui l’impegno in associazione. Coordina il gruppo facebook di Pet levrieri, gestisce il canale istituzionale Twitter, ed è membro del gruppo adozioni. Condivide la vita con il compagno Stefano, socio e volontario di Pet levrieri, James greyhound salvato in Irlanda e Jasmine greyhound sopravvissuta al cinodromo di Macao, nel cuore portano Rosie e Mags greyhound salvate in Irlanda. Svolge i suoi incarichi in Pet levrieri in maniera totalmente gratuita.

×