Fostering

Here at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home we’re always looking for volunteer fosterers who can provide temporary care for our dogs needing a break from kennel life, or our cats, most often pregnant mothers and their kittens, who need a safe and calm environment.

Becoming a foster carer means that you are providing invaluable support for lost, abandoned and unwanted dogs and cats who really need that second chance with a new and loving family.

Why might a dog or cat need to be fostered?

The kennel and cattery environments can be alien to the dogs and cats coming into our care, and as a result of their change in circumstance some of them can become stressed and anxious, which can be detrimental to their mental and physical wellbeing.

As well as this being bad for them, it also makes it very difficult for us to assess their character and understand them as individuals – and therefore what type of home they would be best suited to once they are ready to be rehomed. We often find that once placed into foster care and given time to settle into a normal home environment, they are better able to relax and their true personalities shine through.

For example, some cats may show us that they simply don’t want or need human contact by choosing not to interact with their foster carer. In these cases, we have some fantastic rehoming options available to those cats who make it clear that a domestic home is not for them, including farms and other rehoming outlets.

Special Care

Animals that often need fostering are kittens and puppies who arrive with us at a very young age, so are not ready to be rehomed. Obviously, the kennel or cattery setting is not ideal for these youngsters, so we try our best to place them into loving foster homes where they receive the one-to-one care and socialisation that they need.

We also have animals with medical conditions, such as cats with cystitis, or dogs with severe skin irritation who might need to be fostered. Some ailments can be caused or exacerbated by stress, so these animals benefit greatly from being monitored in a calm home environment to see if this may improve or resolve the problem.

Foster Carer Benefits

Our foster carers tend to be people who really love animals but are not in a position, for one reason or another, to have one full-time. Fostering enables people to have animals in their lives, but without the full-time commitment.

Although it is often hard to say goodbye to a foster animal, it is extremely rewarding to see them blossom and then go on to be successfully rehomed.

In return, we ensure that our foster carers receive ongoing support and behaviour training, along with continuous financial and veterinary support for their foster animals.

Apply to foster a dog

Apply to foster a cat

Case Studies

Anais' Story

Foster Carer: Anais

Why did you get involved at Battersea?

Everyone I have come across since moving to the UK in 2013 has a Battersea story. Whether it’s from a visit to the Home as a child, rehoming their family’s first rescue dog or cat, or watching POG Dogs. People I come across always mention how the passion for the animals is palpable from the minute you walk through the gates, and it was this incredibly special atmosphere that inspired my journey as a volunteer and foster carer.

After marrying and relocating to London from Texas in 2014, I applied for a few volunteering opportunities and was finally selected to help the Events and Community Fundraising team. It was fantastic to have the opportunity to work with our incredible supporters and a year later I signed on as the Events and Community Fundraising Team Assistant. It’s very rare in the non-profit sector to be able to work directly with the organisation’s beneficiaries, and it was a privilege to see first-hand how donations were contributing to the best levels of care for the Home’s dogs and cats. After six months of working for the Home, I applied to be a foster carer and never looked back! 

For you personally, what do you gain from fostering at Battersea?

Fostering for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home is an immensely rewarding and fulfilling experience, and ever since we opened our home to our first foster dog, Geraldine, we never looked back. For me, the sense of achievement that comes from helping a dog or cat overcome challenges to find a loving new home is unparalleled to any other form of volunteering.

Having relocated from Texas to London, I deeply missed my network of friends and family and struggled to reconcile feelings of homesickness. Fostering for Battersea re-established my sense of purpose and helped me to overcome loneliness as I acclimated to life in a new city. Some of my closest friendships were forged over impromptu conversations about my foster dogs while out on walks, and I’m not sure how I would have been able to achieve the same quality experiences outside of fostering for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

Do you have any specific examples or anecdotes?

Fostering has been so incredibly rewarding that it’s very difficult to name just a few highlights! From seeing our first foster dog overcome some tough challenges to find her forever home, through to taking on a family of 11 cats (two mums and nine kittens) - the constant highlight is unveiling our foster animals' true personalities and seeing them re-homed with their perfect family. Our home has been filled with joy and cherished memories that my husband and I will carry with us for the rest of our lives.

Carole's Story

Foster Carer: Carole

Why did you get involved at Battersea?

I took early retirement and wanted to ‘give back’ somehow.I undertook a range of volunteer activities but enjoyed my time at Battersea the most and that’s why I’m still here. I owned a Jack Russell so I decided to work with cats as a socialiser because I knew that even if I fell in love with the cats there would be no way that I could take them home. Sadly, our cat chasing Jack died and we decided that although we weren’t ready to own another dog at that point we wanted to foster – all the benefits without the long-term commitment.

For you personally, what do you gain from fostering at Battersea?

For me it’s about new experiences, we’ve lived with some amazing dogs that I wouldn’t ever have had the opportunity to get to know and I’ve fallen in love with the staffie breed which I hadn’t expected.

I feel very proud to be a volunteer for Battersea. Walking a foster dog in his or her blue Battersea tabard always raises smiles and interest. I also feel that Battersea is a well-known national brand and stating that I am part of it gives me a sense of belonging and more importantly a sense that I am doing something really worthwhile.

Do you have any specific examples or anecdotes?

All of our foster dogs have touched our lives in some way and we have been dining out on our anecdotes – being outrun by Chloe, an escaped three legged greyhound; finding a dinner party starter had been eaten by Misty our EBT cross; Harley the young attention seeker who stole things, chased things, ate things and left a trail of destruction in his wake. And our friends and family love them too, we are often asked for updates or repeats of amusing stories.

We’ve also been so grateful for the support from the fostering team, there’s a real sense that we are in this together and they are always on the end of the phone to answer questions and offer advice. We were struck by the efforts they make to keep in touch.

FAQs

How long will I be fostering an animal for?

The length of time varies and depends on the individual. Generally, animals will be fostered until they are rehomed and we don’t always know how long this could take. Dogs will usually be fostered for a couple of weeks to a month or two. Sometimes this could be shorter or longer but we understand that foster carers may not be able to commit to a long-term foster. Kittens are fostered until they are nine weeks old, they’re then returned to us for their early neuter and will go to their new homes. Adult cats will usually be fostered as a two-week placement initially, but this could be extended as their progress is reviewed.

Do I need a car to foster?

It is always ideal if you have your own transport, particularly if you live further away, but we understand that this isn’t an option for everyone. Failing this, if you have any family or friends who can transport you in a car with the animal or can use a car hire service, then this would be the next best option. We don’t test dogs on public transport so we don’t know how they might react, therefore when you take a dog for the first time we can arrange a taxi. We do not allow adult cats to be taken on public transport.

Do I have to buy the animal’s food and accessories?

Each time you foster an animal we provide all the supplies that you need, including food, bedding, bowls, toys etc. as we don’t expect you to pay anything towards fostering. We will give you a large supply of food but when supplies run low it is your responsibility to come and collect more, or you can buy food and we will reimburse you.

Can I adopt my foster animal?

Fostering is not meant to be a way to adoption. We really need foster carers who can commit to fostering long term so that you can help many different dogs or cats who need foster homes. We generally ask for a minimum six-month commitment to fostering. If after this time you have a foster animal that you would like to adopt, then we can discuss this with you.

Can I foster as a trial to see if we are suitable to adopt?

Fostering is not meant to be a way to adoption. We really need foster carers who can commit to fostering long term so that you can help many different dogs or cats who need foster homes. We need foster carers who have experience of owning a dog or cat, so if you are unsure about whether you can care for an animal then fostering may not be the right option for you.

I have seen an animal on the website that I like, can I foster him/her?

Not all of our animals qualify for fostering, we only foster those who have compromised welfare due to stress or medical issues, as well as animals that are too young to stay in the cattery or kennel environment. Not every animal needs fostering. There is a waiting list, and we will be able to match you to a suitable animal.

What training do I receive?

We hold a group induction where we cover everything you need to know before fostering your first animal. This includes general information, animal behaviour, body language, identifying stress signals, and appropriate handling. We will also go into detail about each animal’s background and behaviours before you foster them.

How much experience is needed?

For dogs, we ideally need foster carers who have experience with large breeds or bull breeds and who have experience of dogs with behaviour issues such a separation anxiety. At a minimum, we require applicants to have owned a dog or cat, or to have lived with dogs or cats.

What happens if I am going on holiday?

We understand that foster carers have their own commitments and may not always be available to foster dogs or cats. If you know you have holidays or other commitments coming up then please let us know. If you have been fostering an animal for a while, and an unexpected commitment comes up then please let us know as soon as possible. We will do our very best to make other arrangements for the foster animal.

Can I become a foster carer?

As the dogs and cats that pass through our foster scheme often have quite complex needs, we ideally need to recruit foster carers with experience of dog or cat ownership. 

All our foster carers need to be compassionate, empathetic and adaptable to the needs of the individual animals that come through their care, as they are all unique. You must be willing to provide all the basics of care, such as feeding, cleaning, exercising (dogs), grooming, training, playing and socialising, and be willing to follow our guidance and regulations on training and safety.

We do also ask that our foster carers are able to:

  • Assist us with the rehoming process by regularly providing photos, videos and updates via email
  • Have no other pets in the home  
  • Spend minimum time away from their animal
  • See the foster through until the animal is rehomed, which may require a commitment of many months in some cases
  • Live within one hour of one of our three centres and be able to travel to a centre when required, sometimes at short notice
  • Do not have young children (those with older children may be considered)

If you're interested in changing the lives of animals by becoming a foster carer then please apply below.

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