Rescue Journal

clarifying our foster program.

Carol  ·  Sep. 10, 2013

when I was helping shawn pick a new saints foster dog, we ran into a minor glitch. like we just did not have a foster that was suitable for him. he wanted a large dog and I needed a dog for him who was senior, quiet, well behaved, stick to your side and relatively healthy, who didn't bite. and we did not have anyone like that here.

so I asked the shelter managers if they had a nice large senior that no one was interested in adopting, that saints could permanently take on. I explained the situation, that our potential foster home for the dog was elderly and frail and lonely and if anything should happen to shawn, the dog would immediately come to us here.
two dogs came up as possibilities and we went to meet them. shawn picked shelby, a senior chow cross that while a really sweet dog, no one wanted to adopt because she was not only old, she was big, hairy and by some stuck up standards...somewhat homely to boot.

the other dog was just as sweet. I said if they decided she was unadoptable, to let me know and we could take her here if she needed too. this particular dog is now currently in their foster program which is different than our foster program. anyway, this brought to my mind that I have been meaning to clarify how our foster program works so I thought I would explain our foster program a bit better because it is unique and folks just assume, it is like all of the other foster programs but it isn't because the dogs we take in are pretty much NOT adoptable.

saints does not have a temporary until adoption foster program. the reason for this is....most of our dogs are unadoptable. this is not to say they won't get adopted but chances are they won't. look at dogs like jelly. she sat here for years before lynne took her as a foster dog. no one wanted to actually adopt her, a huge rotti cross with a known history of aggressive mammary cancer that luckily has not showed up again yet. jelly while a totally GREAT dog, was never adopted because of this...people just do not want a large, mixed breed who is old with a big health issue risk.

so jelly eventually goes off into permanent foster, there she will live, loved and cared for by lynne for the rest of her life and we manage her medical care and cover her bills. sometimes fosters pay the bills themselves and just want us for back up in case something big comes along. sometimes they ask for tax receipts for the medical care that they do cover, sometimes not. sometimes we cover all medical bills and the foster pays nothing at all...depends on the foster, depends on the dog.

but the bottom line is saints foster dogs are in permanent foster care for the rest of their lives because there is something significantly medically, behaviorally, or age related that makes them unlikely to ever be adopted out. once they are in foster care, they are no longer up for adoption. as far as both they and I are concerned they have their permanent forever home regardless of who pays the bills.

and there is a reason for this...old dogs do not do well with constant change, they need predictability, they need to settle so they can end their lives in peace. so a few weeks here or there, shifting them back and forth is not good for them.

so this sounds like an awesome deal...come to saints, pick a broken dog and everything they ever need will be free. well it is not such an awesome deal because once someone has one of our foster dogs, they are morally and legally obligated to follow our foster contract and they do have to continually deal with me.
I have expectations of our foster homes.
they will provide the type of home that their foster dog needs.
they will keep in close contact with me.
they will follow our vet's treatment plans to the T.
and if I put a care plan in place for the dog, they will also follow that plan to a T.
as long as a dog is in our foster program the dog legally belongs to saints, so if for whatever reason the dog's needs are not being met, the dog will be taken back to the sanctuary.
this can be a good thing if the foster family feels the dog has reached the point where the care he/she requires it is out of their league.
but it can also be a bad thing, if I make that determination and the foster family does not agree.
I can and will pull a foster from a foster home if I feel it is in their best interests. I don't do it often but I will do it if needed. I am as responsible to the foster animals as I am to the sanctuary animals..despite their physical location, they have remained saints responsibility.

so offering to foster to saints is not as simple as providing temporary housing for a few weeks. it is not as simple as getting a free dog with everything they are ever needing continuing to always be free.
it is a partnership of providing life long, appropriate care in meeting the animal's forever needs. it means being a participating and cooperative member of the foster animal's care giving team.

our foster program is not for the lazy, the selfish or the weak. it is not for folks who want a dog that is in all ways easy or free.
it is for folks who understand that they are now caring for a saints animal... as part partnership with...with responsiblity to....saints.
it is a commitment to both the animal and to their responsible parent charitable society.

no saints foster animal is ever totally free, they come wrapped up in a bunch of safety net strings....the saints foster animals belong to saints as a lifelong responsibility.



well i am just happy i have jelly she is such a love and fostered or adopted she is and will be my dog until she dies. please carol dont take her away from me. lol seriously i understand where ur coming from its not i just got a free animal, it is this is my animal and i will love and take care of it until it passes some people can not afford the vet bill s and others can so you do whatever it takes to make it a safe and happy place for the animals. seriously i won the jackpot with jelly and i will do whatever i can to make her happy and yes carol my husband loves her and she loves him

janet nicholson

Glad you found a new friend, Shawn. I am sure both you and Shelby are going to be so very happy together - she is a lucky dog. And Carol will always be there for both of you.


we do maintain a limited foster program...we have about 35 animals out in permanent foster care.
all of our fosters live in our geographical area because they have to use our vets, it is a requirement because A. I trust our vets fully and B. our vets kindly allow us to maintain a running tab between fundraisers and C all foster animals need to be within easy reach of me in case they need something.


Hi Carol,

I was under the impression that you no longer had a foster program, thank you for the clarification. To be clear, can fosters be on the Island? or do they need to be on the mainland?

Thank you.