foster_a_pet  By LEAPS

Please picture this scene. We are sitting in our offices going about our day when we receive a call from someone who has driven past a dog on the highway and we should get someone out there pronto to save this dog! Now we sit with a dilemma – we will not leave a dog out there to die BUT what are we going to do with this doggy if and when we successfully rescue this lost and terrified soul?

Organisations such as us do not have kennelling facilities. When we rescue abandoned, stray, or neglected animals, they are placed in homes just like yours and mine until a forever home is found. So when we head out to that highway and rescue this scared dog, we can literally be sitting in our cars and have no idea where our next stop is. Why is this? Whilst we rescue 1000's of abandoned animals, we only have a handful of foster homes. We always say to our foster parents that they are the guardian angels of our organisations – we genuinely mean it! Without them, these animals are destined for death and it is that simple. Read more...

We often find ourselves asking: why, oh why, do we struggle to find foster homes for our orphans? People are always commending us on the work we do, or sadly, sometimes criticising us for "abandoning" a dog or cat in a township, but when we beg and plead for people to assist us with fostering, all goes silent, or we hear the following; I already have pets at home, I don't have time, I don't have space, my spouse won't let me, I will get too attached!

Well, we believe that people just don't know what fostering entails and if they did, they would jump at the opportunity. So, we ask that you take 1 minute to consider the following and hopefully you will be convinced to join the world of fostering.

• Pets really don't require much; a warm place to sleep, two bowls of food a day and some exercise. People are always moaning that they don't get to exercise. Well, a brisk walk in the morning or at night with your foster dog will keep you fit and trim and keep your foster happy;

• When you go to work, dogs don't run around the garden. They generally lie down and await their "Master's" return. So having a lot of space is not a necessity. A walk solves this problem.

• There is no greater feeling than coming home to the wagging tail of a foster pet. Nothing beats the feeling of unconditional love!

• There are no strings attached. If you can foster a pet until a forever home is found, that is great, but if you need to go away or your circumstances change, the pet will be placed in an alternate foster home.

• If there are any behavioural issues that worry you about fostering, for example introducing the foster pet to your pets, we have a resident animal behaviourist on hand to assist with any advice you may require.

• We provide food for the foster pet and pay all medical bills (unless our foster parents insist).

• Unless you are fostering young puppies, you do not have to be home during the day.

• You can provide your own requirements such as only fostering older dogs, or female dogs, etc.

• If you have no pets, fostering is a great way to enjoy the benefits of having a pet without feeling like you are "locked in".

• If you have pets, it is great for them to have a friend over to play!

• If you have children, it is a fantastic way for them to learn to love pets, learn responsibility and most of all, show them what it is like to make an immeasurable difference in the life of another living being.

• Relationships are based on compromise. If you want to foster, it is a very small compromise from your spouse or partner. You are not asking them to do the work. If you can stand up and demand to watch that rugby match or buy that pair of shoes; you can demand to save a life!

• The more you foster, the easier it gets to not get attached. You are human, of course the foster pet may grow on you, but when you see this beautiful pet go off to a new, happy home content and confident because of the brilliant job you have done fostering, it is all worth it! We are very strict with our homings and are guided by our foster parent's opinion of the new owners. If you don't like them, we don't like them!

• Most importantly, you are saving a life, and this is priceless!!

Take a moment to read one of our foster parent's fostering experiences. If nothing else, it should put a smile on your dial:

To all the girls I've loved before

I began fostering for LEAPS in November last year, purely by chance. I have always been mad about animals and ended up adopting every stray dog and cat that crossed my path. When we were up to 11 animals (4 BIIIG dogs and 7 cats), my long suffering husband politely suggested that we close our doors as we were running out of space for the humans.

I never realized at the time that there was another way to help (not that I regret one of those 11 furry faces!). I received a random e-mail asking if anyone was prepared to foster the cutest little dog. I didn't think too long or hard before responding yes, yes, yes. It turned out that that doggie had found a home, but that was my introduction to the wonderful and dedicated Jolene and to LEAPS.

Since then I have fostered 8 dogs (puppies and adults). All have been girls as 3 of my 4 dogs are male. Each has been a precious and unique experience. I only had my first foster, Roxy, for 4 days before she was homed, so I didn't get time to get too attached. However my second foster, also called Roxy, lived with us for 3 months and that was my first taste of the bittersweet feeling of seeing them homed successfully. It was touch and go as to whether I was actually going to give her up for adoption as the whole family had grown to love her so. But I had to remind myself that by giving her up, I was making space in our home for another animal in need.

We have had fosters in all conditions, healthy, skinny, flea infested, emotionally scarred, as well as the occasional bout of mange! The most magical thing is to see them rehabilitate physically and emotionally. We are fortunate in that our pack of dogs are calm and easygoing (and one of them is just plain old disinterested!) with the fosters. We had Lala who clapped eyes on them for the first time and lay on her back and screamed blue murder, while the four of them stared at her in confusion. By the time she left our house she was riding poor Toby like a horse. We had Iman (now called Sadie) who hid behind the couch for a day until she felt safe enough to decide that Skye's back legs made excellent chewtoys. And of course there was Chippie, who arrived full of beans, fleas and mange, with absolutely not a strand of hair on her ears or a care in the world. She has become one of the most beautiful dogs ever.

Our cats stare at these interlopers with suspicion, but because they have been around our dogs, they are not afraid. As such, the fosters learn to be around cats and actually end up ignoring them.

This has to be one of the most rewarding, satisfying and sometimes sad (to say goodbye) journeys I have ever taken. I have kept in touch with several of the adoptive parents who update me on their new children, and I've met some truly wonderful people. As much as I cry when I say goodbye, I know that I've been able to make a difference to a life and can continue to do so without buying a smallholding! I encourage anyone who has the space or inclination to offer their services as a foster.

WARNING: It does become a little addictive, my 5 year old daughter is already asking me why our next dog hasn't arrived yet and we've only been foster free for 6 days.

To find out more about the joys of fostering and to get started, please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or call 082 955 1875