Fostering Is Such A Rewarding ExperienceThe title says it all. Fostering a shelter animal is an extremely rewarding experience, and despite any challenges, it is such a good feeling to know that you have helped an animal in need. Ask your current volunteers to explain their experiences, struggles, and successes with fostering, and ask them to discuss how the experience changed their life. Additionally, you could ask the volunteers to explain the reasons that they decided to become fosters. What made them want to get involved? Have they always been an animal lover? You may get some really touching stories and sentimental reasons, all of which can encourage even more people to relate and become interested in your program.
Expectation Vs. RealityEveryone has a different idea of what fostering will be like, and the experience may end up being different from the actual experience. While interviewing your current fosters, ask them to explain something they were nervous about or fearful of when they first started fostering, and how the situation ended up being an easy fix or solution. Sometimes the anxiety and “what-ifs” can discourage people from joining the program, so having someone that is relatable could help put potential nervous volunteers at ease.
Challenges and SolutionsEvery animal in the foster program will have a unique set of challenges. However, with every challenge, there is a solution. Ask your current fosters to briefly explain what has worked for them in terms of fostering, and what they would do differently next time. For example, if a volunteer struggled with a puppy that would chew on cords or other items in the home, ask the volunteer to describe what strategy or training method they used to curb the negative behavior. Have the volunteer explain a specific challenge that they faced, and what they did to solve it. Give the impression that when fostering gets hard, it is important to remind yourself why you wanted to foster an animal in the first place! Experienced fosters will often tell you that “goodbye” is often the hardest part!
Animal-Proof A HomeAnimals have the potential to cause damage to a home, whether it be chewing on curtains or cords, or going to the bathroom inside. Ask current fosters to show their home (if they are comfortable doing so) and to show the specific things that they did to animal-proof their rooms. This could include showing how they locked chemicals away, where they hid cords and potentially dangerous items, etc. Having a visual of what to do can be very beneficial to those who are new to fostering.
Memorable StoriesAlmost every foster that you talk to can tell you about an animal that has made an incredible impact on his or her life, regardless of how long they have been fostering or how many animals they have provided a home. Ask your current fosters to share a memorable story and to talk about the animal(s) that have changed their lives. Did they have a dog that was badly injured and they nursed it back to health? Did they connect and bond with the smallest kitten in a litter that was struggling to eat? Maybe a volunteer just really loved the personality of a dog that he or she brought home! Hearing a great story can spark interest in others and promote your shelter or rescue’s foster program.
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