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Since the beginning of the pandemic, shelters have been overloaded with stray animals. One way to help is to offer to foster a cat or dog. Fosters take animals into their home until the animal is ready for adoption. This allows shelters to keep their doors open, as it frees up space for other animals that may be surrendered due to financial hardship during the pandemic. It also minimizes the amount of staff needed in order to successfully run the shelter in the time of Covid 19.

The foster to adopt model is also helping shelters during the pandemic. This model involves both foster families and shelter staff promoting foster animals for adoption. This way, the animal can be adopted directly from the foster, eliminating the need for the dog or cat to come back to the shelter environment to seek a family. Shelters can also arrange for the return of foster animals to happen in shifts so they are not overwhelmed by a large number of animals at once.

Fosters are expected to provide foster animals with safe homes with shelter, food, and clean water. Dogs should be provided with a suitable diet, poop bags, and food and water bowls. They should have a collar or harness on at all times; fosters should consult with the shelter to find one that fits appropriately. Dogs should not be left unsupervised unless safely crated in the confines of the foster home. They should always be on leash unless safely behind a fence, and they should not have interactions with other animals outside of the foster household unless approved by shelter staff.

Cats should always be kept indoors. When being transported, they should be in a safe and approved carrier. They should not be introduced to other pets inside or outside of the foster home unless the shelter staff has approved the meeting. Cats should be kept in a safe environment with plenty of human interaction. They should be given toys that promote play and exercise their predatory instincts. They should be provided with an adequate diet, freshwater, multiple litter boxes, and a place where they can safely scratch without fear of damage to their paws or the foster family’s furniture.