Key Dos and Don'ts of Being a PVAS Dog Foster

DOS

 

  • DO carefully review all of PVAS’s dog foster communications and resources, including the Dog Foster Handbook, and follow the rules and responsibilities set forth therein.

  • DO understand that there is an adjustment period when a dog moves into a foster home that can trigger certain unwanted behaviors. Dogs often just need time to settle in and get used to a new routine. 

  • DO make sure any resident animal is fully vaccinated before fostering.

  • DO keep your foster dog separated from any resident animal for at least the first week.

  • DO maintain a 10-foot bubble between people and other animals when walking your foster dog.

  • Do immediately notify our Foster Team if your foster dog is showing any sign of illness, injury or a behavioral challenge you need support with.

  • DO give our Foster Team at least 4 days advance notice if you need to rehome your foster dog or need a sitter. Also post a request in the PVAS Volunteer & Foster Facebook group to increase your chances of finding one.

  • DO email pictures, videos, and bio information to our Foster Team to market your foster dog.

  • DO respond to ALL adoption inquiries within 24 hours.

  • DO always let potential adopters know there is or may be other adoption interest in your foster dog. Setting expectations is key!

  • DO immediately notify our Foster Team if you want to adopt your foster dog.

  • DO immediately report any foster dog bite per our Dog Foster Bite Protocol.

  • DO immediately report if your foster dog is lost or stolen to our Foster Team at foster@pvastx.org.

  • DO shower your foster dog with love!

DON’TS

 

  • DON’T allow your undervaccinated foster dog (typically puppies under 20 weeks) to touch the ground in any public area. 

  • DON’T bring your foster dog to any off-leash area or let your foster dog off leash.

  • DON’T house your foster dog outside or leave your foster dog unattended outside.

  • DON’T introduce your foster dog to any animal other than your resident animal(s) and any potential adopter’s animal(s).

  • DON’T travel out of the area with your foster dog without express written permission from PVAS. 

  • DON’T hand off your foster dog to a foster sitter, another foster, or any other person without getting permission from the Foster Team. Sitters must be PVAS-approved fosters.

  • DON’T use boarding facilities, doggie daycares, groomers, or any other third-party care providers for your foster dog without express written permission from PVAS.

  • DON’T let a potential adopter take your foster dog on a trial basis, field trip, or sleepover. Your foster dog must be in the custody of an PVAS-approved foster at all times until officially adopted.

  • DON’T use a retractable leash. Retractable leashes are dangerous and can severely injure you, a bystander, your dog, or other dogs.

  • DON’T remove or loosen your foster dog’s martingale collar.

  • DON’T use aversive behavior modification tools like prong or remote collars.

 

Canine Body Language

Learning Your Foster Dog's Body Language (4 min. video)

Handouts on Dog Body Language (Center for Shelter Dogs)

Canine Communication (27 min. video)

 
 

Dog Foster Handbook

Introduction to Our Foster Program

 

What is a Foster Home?

 

A foster home is an extension of a shelter’s lifesaving capacity made possible through partnerships with the public. Through fostering, members of the public provide temporary shelter, care, and love for pets in need and serve as their bridge to a forever home. 

 

Why Foster?

 

In addition to increasing a shelter’s lifesaving capacity by opening up much-needed kennel space at the shelter, fostering improves the quality of life for each homeless pet. A home environment transforms pets for the better, significantly improving their mental and physical wellbeing. Put simply, fostering saves lives and makes those lives better.

 

Fostering is also an important step on a pet’s journey to their forever home. Fostering provides pets with the best environment for their wellbeing while waiting for their adopter and allows them to practice forming bonds with humans and potentially other animals. Fostering also provides pets with the best possible advocate for their adoption - their foster parent.

 

What Are the Benefits of Fostering?

 

Being a foster has rewards beyond saving a life:

  • Experience an animal companion without a lifetime commitment

  • Provide your resident pet with socialization and a temporary companion.

  • Want an exercise buddy? Foster an active dog who could really benefit from frequent walking or running outings!

  • Experience the special feeling of helping a dog recover from an illness or injury or decompress from the stress of the shelter environment.

It’s incredibly rewarding to care for these four-legged friends that need our help. But above all, you get the joy of knowing that you have saved a life!

 

What are the Responsibilities of Fostering?

 

Beyond providing plenty of love, foster homes are generally responsible for:

  • Providing a safe, clean, and caring environment

  • Providing shelter, food, water, and toys/enrichment

  • Providing exercise and socialization, as appropriate

  • Monitoring any medical and/or behavioral issues and working with us, as needed, to provide the best care possible for the dog

  • Picking up their foster dog from PVAS

  • Transporting their foster dog to and from PVAS for medical appointments, meet and greets, behavior/training sessions, etc. and to and from adoption events as necessary; and working with anyone who is taking custody of their foster dog (a sitter, a new foster, or an adopter) on transporting their foster dog to them

  • Actively marketing their foster dog for adoption

  • Meeting with potential adopters; being responsive and courteous towards potential adopters; and following our adoption protocols 

  • Carefully reviewing all of PVAS’s dog foster communications and resources, including this handbook, and abiding by the rules and responsibilities set forth therein

 

How does PVAS support its fosters?

PVAS provides its dog foster parents with:

  • Certain supplies like collars, leashes, and crates (as available)

  • Assistance with caring for your foster dog

  • All medical care for your foster dog, as deemed appropriate by our Medical Team

  • Dog sitters for your foster when you go out of town

  • Assistance with marketing your foster dog for adoption and interacting with potential adopters

  • Educational resources and opportunities

  • Responsive communications


What Types of Dogs Need a Foster Home?

 

All dogs who have not yet found a forever home need a foster home! We have the young, fluffy cuties, but we have the most foster need for pregnant dogs, moms with newborns, orphaned puppies, senior dogs, dogs needing medical care, dogs needing more active behavior management and dogs needing a break from the shelter. Basically, foster care is for all homeless dogs, especially those that need a little extra TLC!

 

Things to Consider When Becoming a Foster Parent

 

Fostering is a tremendously rewarding experience, but it can be hard work and take time and effort. In addition to the basic responsibilities we have listed above, please consider the following before deciding if fostering a dog is right for you:

 

  • Are you permitted to have dogs in your residence (e.g., if you rent, does your landlord allow dogs)? Are there any restrictions on the type of dog that is permitted (e.g., breed, size, etc.)? If there is a required pet deposit, are you willing to pay it prior to taking a foster dog? If you live in a community with shared walls (e.g., apartment, condominium, townhome), will a dog’s barking or whining present a noise issue?

  • If you do not live alone, is everyone in your residence ok with you fostering a dog? Fostering is a household affair. Even if you do all the work, everyone will be affected by having this addition to your household. This is especially important if you have roommates. Everyone in the household needs to consent to your fostering a dog and understand and follow the Foster Program’s protocols for the health and safety of you, the other residents, and your foster dog.

  • If you have other animals:

    • How will they react to a new dog in the home?

    • Are they spayed or neutered? Most of our foster dogs will not yet have had spay or neuter surgery, so we want to ensure that they don’t have contact with any “intact” dogs. 

    • Do any of them have any health issues that might make them more susceptible to disease or other medical concerns?

    • Have they been fully vaccinated for DAPP, Rabies, and Bordetella? The latter is for kennel cough and not a routine vaccine. However, if you board your dog it was probably required. Please check your vet records to see if this specific vaccine has been done. If your dog(s) are not up to date on vaccines, you should wait a minimum of 3 days after your dog’s vaccinations have been administered before taking in a foster dog. We also recommend that you follow your vet’s recommendations regarding the addition of a foster dog to your home.

    • Do you have the ability to separate your foster dog from your resident animals? We recommend that you keep them separate for at least the first week. There are two reasons for this. First, we want to protect your resident animals from any undiagnosed medical conditions. Second, from a behavior perspective, it is usually best to slowly introduce a new dog to the “pack.”

  • Do you have the time to devote to caring for a foster dog? Young puppies may need to be fed as often as every few hours. Adult dogs need the stimulation and exercise of daily leashed walks. As a foster, you are expected to provide transportation, put forth marketing efforts, and manage the adoption process for your foster dog.

  • If you are interested in fostering puppies, please review the What to Expect When You're Expecting (to Foster Puppies) document on our website.

  • By fostering, you are agreeing that you are willingly offering to foster and that you do not expect any goods or services in return.

 

 

General Foster Program Information

 

Contact Names and Numbers

 

Palm Valley Animal Society is open Monday - Sunday from 11:00 am - 7:00 pm, but a Foster Coordinator will be available to contact as early as 9:00 am. The main foster number is 956-330-3206. Foster Coordinators are also readily available during business hours via email: foster@pvastx.org

 

Locations

 

PVAS Trenton Center

2501 W. Trenton Rd.
Edinburg, TX 78539
Hours: 11AM until 7PM Daily

 

PVAS Andrews Center
2451 N. Expressway 281
Edinburg, TX 78541
Hours: 11AM until 7PM Daily

 

Emergencies

 

To serve you and your foster pets better, a new emergency protocol is in development. However, at this time, we do not have an after-hours emergency line. Please call or text 956-330-3206 to speak to a Foster Coordinator Monday - Sunday between 9:00 am - 7:00 pm. Calmly tell us your name, the name of your foster pet, and their current condition. Together we will determine if any additional steps are needed.

 

If you have an emergency with a foster pet outside of regular business hours, please keep the animal comfortable to the best of your ability, leave a voicemail or text 956-330-3206, and email foster@pvastx.org with an update. Please note that if you decide to take a PVAS foster animal directly to an emergency veterinary hospital, we will not be responsible for any of the costs incurred. Palm Valley Animal Society will need access to medical records for any veterinary visit(s). Thank you!

 

Resources

 

In order to make your dog foster experience as smooth as possible we have developed many resources to support you, including the following:

 

  • PVAS Dog Foster Resource Center: This website includes all of our current resources to help you during your foster experience. The following resources are particularly important for new fosters to review:

    • Dog Foster Team Contacts: This resource describes all of the individual dog foster teams and other important APA! contacts for you as a foster parent.

    • Key Dos and Don'ts for Dog Fosters: This resource will give you a quick overview of the most important principles of fostering with APA!

    • Dog Foster Bite Protocol: It is very important that you follow this protocol if your foster dog bites you, a member of your household, or anyone else.

  • Social Media: Please join our PVAS Volunteers & Fosters Facebook group, which is only open to current PVAS volunteers and fosters and is a forum for you to seek and provide advice and support and share stories and photos. 

 

Communications

 

  • As a foster parent, you have access to the foster team to help you have a successful foster experience. We primarily communicate by email. Please make sure that we have the best email address for you and you check your email daily. We will email you general and dog-specific information at different times to help you become and stay informed about fostering.

  • Please refrain from calling/texting our personal cell phones except in emergencies. If your situation is not an emergency, please use your best judgment, and if possible, use our PVAS Dog Foster Resource Center to help.

  • As an approved PVAS Foster Parent, you will be added to the distribution list for our foster pleas via Constant Contact. Please do not unsubscribe from this group since this is the primary method by which we communicate with our foster parents. We use this only as a communication tool and not an interactive tool.

  • It is very important that you carefully read all the information we email, including any linked documents. Even if you have fostered previously, our emails may contain new information, and it’s important that you follow our protocols for the health and safety of you and your foster dog.


 

Dog Foster Sign-Up Process

 

If you are reading this, you are likely already approved to foster dogs with PVAS. But if not, and you are interested in becoming a PVAS Foster Parent, you first need to sign up on our website. We will review your application and contact you if we have any questions. Once approved, sign up to receive emails. 


 

Placement

 

Preparing for Your Foster Dog

 

We encourage you to donate supplies for your own foster pets in order to maximize the number of animals in the foster program. Some supplies are available from the shelter at no cost. Contact the Foster Team to ask us which items are currently available.

 

Suggested Supplies List for Foster Caregivers
  • Blankets, towels, rags

  • Paper towels, newspaper, pee pads

  • Bowls: ceramic or stainless steel are easiest to sanitize

  • Crate: a large crate is useful for different sized dogs

  • Pet playpen/Corrals: come in all sizes, metal is easiest to clean, can be great for containing sleepover dogs

  • Sheets and tarps: to protect floors

  • Stain and odor remover for floors/carpets: Nature’s Miracle works very well

  • Toys that can be cleaned and sanitized: hard rubber Kong toys, nylon, some food puzzles, etc. can all be easily disinfected

  • Cleaning supplies: detergent, bleach, rags, scrub brushes, mop, etc.

  • Gates (for sectioning-off parts of the house)

  • Collars, leashes, harnesses 

 

This list is not meant to be complete, but it consists of the basics. If you have any questions about supplies, please email the foster team. 

Getting Placed With Your Foster Dog

 

  • The Foster Team is your primary contact via email for all foster-related matters.

  • There are a few options for you to get placed with a foster dog:

  • The Foster Team will work with you on matching you with an appropriate foster dog. When corresponding with our Foster Team, it is important to let them know about any special considerations you might have:

    • Do you have dogs that haven’t been spayed or neutered?

    • Are your dogs current on all vaccinations, including bordetella for dogs?

    • Do you have young children?

    • Do you have a high-traffic home?

    • Can you keep the foster dog separate from your resident animal(s)?

    • Do you have any other fosters already in your home?

    • Do you have any breed restrictions?

    • Have you recently had a sick animal in your home?

  • If you have recently fostered a dog with parvo virus or another extremely contagious disease, you must wait six months before fostering another undervaccinated dog.

  • In most cases, PVAS will not know any background information on how your foster dog does in a home or around other animals or children or any other background information. While not ideal, this is the reality. By fostering, you are agreeing to prepare yourself for this reality.

 

Picking Up Your Foster Dog

 

  • After the Foster Team has confirmed a match for you and you have carefully read the information we have emailed you, you are ready to pick up your foster dog. Usually, this will be from one of our two locations, but could also be from another foster’s home.

  • We recommend that you bring the following:

    • Travel Carrier/Crate (one can be borrowed, if needed). Puppies should be transported in a travel carrier/crate. Adult dogs may be securely tethered in the car instead.

    • A non-retractable leash for your foster pup as long your foster dog is able to be walked. Undervaccinated dogs (typically puppies under 20 weeks) cannot be walked and should not touch the ground. There is an exception to this rule in that puppies who are under 20 weeks but 8 weeks or older and have at least 2 DAPP vaccinations can be walked in areas with limited pet traffic (e.g., no communal dog parks or dog walking areas).

    • Blankets/covers to protect your car from scratches or accidents.

    • Paper towels/wipes for car cleanup, if necessary.

  • If your foster dog can touch the ground and is on a leash, give them an opportunity to relieve themselves before placing them in your car.

  • Rescue dogs can be scared and disoriented by the changing environment and are often excellent escape artists. If the Foster Team has told you that your dog is fearful or there is risk of their running away, please follow the precautions in the Dog Foster Fearful Dog Behavior Handout. Specifically for transport, make sure your foster dog is crated or securely tethered in your car and that you use extra caution when opening your car’s doors.

 

At Home With Your Foster Dog
Your Commitment
  • In the first few hours and days, take it slow, be patient, and don’t panic. There is an adjustment period when a dog moves into a foster home that can cause a dog to be stressed or anxious or both, which can manifest itself in certain unwanted behaviors. Dogs often just need time to settle in and get used to a new routine. Most adjustment issues usually resolve themselves within a few days to a week. Please review Bringing Home a New Dog for more information.

  • Common adjustment issues include: separation anxiety, potty accidents, sleepiness, hyperactivity/overarousal, not eating, and gastrointestinal issues. In addition, because of the conditions from which most of our dogs come, it's very common for them to have worms, parasites, fleas, and/or upper respiratory infections (URIs).

  • Returning a foster dog puts a strain on shelter space and takes up a kennel that could be used for another dog at risk. You are agreeing to try to work through issues with your foster dog as they arise so that you may honor your commitment and not return them to the shelter.

Rehoming and Sitting Services
  • If you absolutely need to return your foster dog, you must email our Foster Team and provide 7 days advance notice for a kennel to be reserved. Please do not bring your foster dog to the shelter without confirmation. We generally cannot accept same day surrenders.

  • If you need a sitter for your foster dog, you must email our Foster Team and provide 7 days advance notice for a sitter to be found.

  • Also post a plea in our PVAS Volunteers & Fosters Facebook group to increase the chances of finding a sitter. If your foster dog was available for adoption prior to the sitter period, they will remain available for adoption during the sitter period. If a sitter is not found, your foster dog will return to a kennel. Whether they go to a sitter or return to a kennel, they could be adopted while you are away.

  • Do not hand off your foster dog to a foster sitter, another foster, or any other person (whether it be a neighbor, friend, petsitter, or roommate) without first arranging it with the Foster Team. Sitters must be PVAS-approved fosters.

  • PVAS may require you to return your foster dog in its sole discretion at any time, and you must comply with any such instruction.

  • Key Rules & Responsibilities

    • If your foster dog is undervaccinated (typically puppies under 20 weeks), do not allow your foster dog to touch the ground in any public area (e.g., sidewalks, parks, patios, stores, veterinary clinics or hospitals, play yards, running trails, at PVAS). Undervaccinated dogs are at risk for serious illnesses like Parvo and Distemper. If your home does not have a private outside area where unknown/unvaccinated dogs cannot go, you will need to use potty pads in your home. There is an exception to this rule in that puppies who are under 20 weeks but 8 weeks or older and have at least 2 DAPP vaccinations can be walked in areas with limited pet traffic (e.g., no communal dog parks or dog walking areas). Potential adopters must thoroughly sanitize before touching your undervaccinated foster dog.

    • Do not not introduce your foster dog to any other animal except your resident animal(s) and any potential adopter’s animal(s) (unless the Foster Team advises against any such introduction).

    • You may have also received instructions to use special handling equipment (e.g., a drag leash for the first few days). We use this equipment for your foster dog’s protection and to reduce the likelihood of an escape. You may not use advanced behavior modification tools like prong or remote collars. 

    • Do not use a retractable leash. Retractable leashes are dangerous and can severely injure you, a bystander, your dog, or other dogs.

    • Maintain a 10-foot bubble between people and other animals when walking your foster dog.

    • Do not take your foster dog to a dog park or any other off-leash area.

    • Do not let your foster dog off leash outside of your home.

    • Do not house your foster dog outside or leave your foster dog unattended outside. If you have a fenced yard, you must supervise your foster dog at all times when in that yard. Although your yard may seem “escape proof,” too often our foster dogs have managed to find a way out. This is also their time to begin bonding with people, and being left alone outside could cause them increased anxiety.

    • If you are traveling outside of the area and would like to bring your foster dog with you, you must obtain express written permission from PVAS to travel out of the area with your foster dog.

    • You must obtain express written permission from PVAS before taking your foster dog to any boarding facilities, doggie daycares, groomers, or any other third-party care providers for your foster dog.

    • Return any crate, xpen, or other supplies that you borrow from PVAS when you are no longer an active foster with PVAS. The exception is dog-specific equipment like your foster dog’s collar that should stay with your foster dog through adoption.

    • Immediately notify the Foster Team if your foster dog is lost or stolen. 

    • For an abbreviated, one pager on the most important rules of fostering, please see the Key Dos and Don'ts of Being a PVAS Foster Parent.
       

Pet Introductions
  • IMPORTANT: There is always a health risk associated with introducing a foster dog to household pets. To reduce risk of spread of illness, we recommend keeping the foster dog separate from your personal pet(s) for at least one week. Palm Valley Animal Society does not cover any medical costs should your pet(s) become ill or injured from interacting with a foster dog.

  • Keep your foster dog separated from any resident animal for at least the first week. This can be done by crating your foster dog, keeping them in a separate room, or both. This is important to ensure the safety and health of your foster dog and any resident animal. One primary reason for this rule is that the stress and overstimulation that can come with a new dog’s transition into the home can result in poor first introductions. If you want to introduce your foster dog to your resident dog(s) after the first week, we can provide more information on the “best practice” for introducing dogs upon request. See also the Dog-Dog Introductions documents. Keep in mind that even if you have done a meet and greet between your foster dog and your resident dog(s), we can’t guarantee how they will interact in your home (PVAS cannot guarantee the temperament or behavior of any animal). And even after you have successfully integrated your foster dog with your resident dog(s), do not give them food, treats, or toys together and do not let them have unsupervised interactions.

  • See our handouts on pet introductions.

 

Care

 

General

 

  • The Foster Team is your primary contact via email for all general care-related matters. They are responsible for ensuring that your foster dog receives routine medical care (vaccinations, preventatives, dewormer, heartworm tests, microchip insertion) and medical treatment (when necessary) and for scheduling spay/neuter surgery for your foster dog. They will also remind you when your foster dog is overdue for any routine care. 

  • Any good quality food is sufficient. Puppies and nursing or pregnant moms should get puppy food or gruel (depending on their age). It’s a good idea to have both dry and canned food available. Please consult the Foster Team if you are unsure about what to feed your foster dog. Please do not feed your foster dog “people food.” In limited cases, you may be asked to give your foster dog “people food” (e.g., yogurt or pumpkin to help with diarrhea), but in general stick to dog food.

  • Special precautions need to be taken with puppies. Puppies should be housed in a private, confined area. We recommend a bathroom or any room where they will not have full access to your home. Very young, small puppies can be confined to a crate initially. Confining puppies not only helps protect your possessions, it also keeps them out of harm’s way. Puppies have an uncanny knack for being able to get themselves into precarious situations.

  • It is your responsibility to timely take your foster dog to PVAS for required vaccinations, scheduled appointments, spay/neuter surgery or other surgery, and walk-in emergencies, as necessary.

  • It is your responsibility to pick up and administer monthly preventatives, dewormer (as needed), and medications (as needed) per PVAS’s instructions. Do not bathe your foster dog for 48 hours after being treated with a topical preventative as the shampoo could negate the preventative. It is also your responsibility to notify us each time you administer monthly preventatives.

  • PVAS vaccinates for DAPP (Distemper, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, and Parvo Virus), Bordetella (vaccinates against the most common form of Kennel Cough), and Rabies (at 3 months or older). In addition, dogs are tested for heartworm disease (at 7 months or older) and receive flea/tick and heartworm (HW) prevention and dewormer.

  • Please reference the following information for scheduling your foster dog’s routine care:
     

    • 2 Weeks​

      • Strongid (dewormer)​

    • 4 Weeks​

      • Strongid (dewormer)​

    • 6 Weeks​

      • Strongid (dewormer)​

      • Flea/tick preventative

      • Heartworm preventative

      • Bordetella vaccine

      • DAPP vaccine

    • 8 Weeks​

      • DAPP vaccine​

      • Spay/Neuter (at 8 weeks, or older if adequately vaccinated)

    • 10 Weeks​

      • Flea/tick preventative

      • Heartworm preventative

      • DAPP vaccine

    • 12 Weeks​

      • DAPP vaccine​

      • Rabies vaccine

    • 14 Weeks​

      • Flea/tick preventative

      • Heartworm preventative

      • DAPP vaccine

    • 16 Weeks​

      • DAPP vaccine​

    • 18 Weeks​

      • Flea/tick preventative

      • Heartworm preventative

      • DAPP vaccine

    • 20 Weeks​

      • DAPP vaccine​

    • 7 Months​

      • Heartworm test​

  • Immediately notify our Foster Team if your foster dog is showing any sign of illness or injury.

 

Medical
  • It is possible that your foster dog may be carrying a disease and be contagious or may have a medical issue not identified or otherwise known to PVAS. A dog that appears healthy at the time of placement can sometimes show signs of illness several days later. By fostering, you are acknowledging that you understand this inherent risk in fostering any shelter animal. This is also why we ask that your resident animals be fully vaccinated and that you separate your foster dog from your resident animals for the first week.

  • In most cases, your foster dog will be medically examined and vaccinated before you take them home. However, in limited cases, this is not possible, and you will be notified to schedule an intake exam at a later date.

  • PVAS provides all medical care for your foster dog. PVAS will NOT reimburse you for the cost of ANY medical care outside of PVAS.

  • You must respect and defer to our Medical Team’s decisions regarding your foster dog’s medical care.

  • In an emergency, please refer to the Emergencies section below.

  • If you have had a sick foster dog at home, it is important that you thoroughly clean all items and areas that have been in contact with your sick foster dog. You can use a 10% bleach solution to reliably kill most viruses and bacteria. Thoroughly wet any items and areas that need to be cleaned with the bleach solution and allow it to stand for several minutes before rinsing.

  • Emergencies: see Levels of Emergency document

  • In terms of ongoing care, we aim to provide the same level of care as an animal lover of average means could reasonably provide. This means that if your foster dog falls ill, suffers an injury, or is in discomfort, they can be seen by a tech or vet, as we deem appropriate, within a timeframe commensurate with the issue and can receive medications and routine diagnostics, such as x-rays and blood tests, as we deem necessary. However, just like an animal lover of average means, we are unable to go above and beyond and provide extraordinary medical care. This means we cannot provide expensive diagnostics, like MRIs (which cost thousands of dollars), or a guarantee of expensive prescription medications or foods, although we will always provide this if it is donated.

  • While this protocol may be different than what you have come to expect from your private veterinary care, please know that when you foster a dog with PVAS, you are not only saving the life of that dog but of another dog in need.

 

Behavior
  • The Foster Team is your primary contact via email for all behavior-related matters. If it is time sensitive, please note that in the subject line of your email.

  • PVAS cannot guarantee the temperament or behavior of any foster dog.

  • There may be several unknowns when it comes to your foster dog’s temperament or behavior. Environment and time can impact temperament and behavior, so certain behaviors may reveal themselves in the home of which PVAS was not aware or further develop in the home in a manner that PVAS could not have reasonably predicted.

  • PVAS relies on its fosters to learn more about their dogs and their in-home behaviors. You are agreeing to regularly communicate and work with our Foster Team on any behavior-related matters. Please tell us immediately if you are experiencing any issue with your foster dog so that we can provide help before it becomes a serious problem!

  • You must immediately report any foster dog bite (to human or other animal) pursuant to our Dog Foster Bite Protocol.

  • For a list of common behavioral issues as well as suggestions for behavior modification, see our behavioral resources.

 

Adoption

 

Finding a foster dog’s forever home is a collaborative effort between PVAS and the foster. Fosters are their foster dog’s #1 advocate for adoption, and PVAS relies on fosters to submit marketing materials and to be responsive and courteous towards potential adopters. We highly encourage fosters to spread the word about their amazing foster dog, but note that any person interested in adopting a foster dog must go through PVAS’s adoption process.

 

Adoption Policy

 

At PVAS, we believe that open, progressive adoption policies save lives. Our goal is to match dogs to homes which are good fits while providing exemplary customer service that creates community support and turns visitors into animal advocates and lifelong adopters. 

 

Even if the adopter presents a potential concern, we will come from a place of education versus denial or judgment. Not everyone is experienced and knowledgeable with pets. So we try to educate and assume the person has the best of intentions if a concern occurs. 

 

This open and progressive adoption policy translates to the guideline that the first inquirer of which you are notified that submits the first acceptable application after the requisite meet and greet(s) has priority to adopt your foster dog. Note that without the requisite meet and greet(s), an application is not considered acceptable.

 

This means we do not deny applicants based on any general categories, including:

  • Age - adopters must be at least 18 years old but there is no upper age limit

  • Occupation / being a college student

  • Lack of puppy / dog experience

  • Length of time a puppy / dog will be left alone if the potential adopter has a plan for getting the pup out for exercise and socialization

  • Having roommates

  • Living in an apartment

  • Living alone / being single

  • Not having a yard

 

With all that said, you do have a say in the adoption process! Many fosters, however, mistakenly assume their only control over the process is when we ask for their feedback on the meet and greet. And while yes, this is your opportunity to address any concerns with us (and we will work with you on any concerns), unless there is a solid, objective reason to deny an application, there is very little we can do at this late stage to stop an adoption from moving forward.

 

When a potential adopter inquires about your foster, this is your opportunity to ask questions and tell them about your foster dog to determine if they would be a good fit. If you all believe this to be the case, proceed to the meet and greet stage.
 

Key Adoption Rules

 

  • Do not let a potential adopter take your foster dog on a trial basis, field trip, or sleepover. Your foster dog must be in the custody of an PVAS-approved foster at all times until officially adopted.

  • No opposite sex unfixed adoptions PVAS does not allow allow the adoption of opposite sex unfixed dogs into the same home.
     

Adoption Fees

 

Adoption fees can vary depending on your foster dog’s assessed weight, age and length of stay with us, among other things. Each dog’s adoption fee is listed on their online profile, and our adoption process and fees are detailed on our website.

 

For pets that have not yet been spayed or neutered, a $50, fully refundable deposit is due at the time of adoption. This deposit will be refunded after the pet’s spay/neuter.

 

As of August 2022, our adoption fees for dogs are as follows (check our adoption page for any changes):

 

Puppies (2-5 months) $100

Adult dogs (under 25 lbs.)   $75

Adult dogs (26-79 lbs.)   $50

Adult dogs (over 80 lbs.) $100

Any pet that is over 6 months old and has been at the shelter for more than 30 days has NO adoption fee!

 

We also have periodic adoption events, during which adoption fees may be waived or discounted. Keep your eye on our social media to stay aware of any temporary changes.

Marketing Your Foster Dog

 

Now that your foster dog is safe in your home, your priority is to share photos, videos, bio information, and behavior details for their online profile to show off their personality and highlight what will make them happy and healthy in their forever home.   

 

Our Foster Pet Marketing page details everything you need to know to know about marketing your foster dog, links for sharing content with PVAS staff and volunteers, frequently asked questions, and contacts. 

 

Social Media: We encourage you to use your social media account to share priceless moments and laughable stories to market your foster dog. If you use Facebook, please join our PVAS Volunteers and Fosters Facebook group and post photos and fun and unique updates about your foster dog on this page.

 

Events: PVAS markets our dogs at periodic adoption and exposure events. We ask that you actively market your foster pup by taking them to one of our many events as often as possible until they find their forever home (so long as your foster pup’s medical and behavior needs are appropriate for an event). If your foster dog cannot go to events, we will work with you on other exposure opportunities.

 

If you take your dog to an adoption event, please understand that if the adoption is approved, the  adopter will be able to take your foster dog home immediately. We understand that it is difficult not knowing whether your foster dog will come home with you at the end of the day. However, we hope you can be happy knowing they found their forever home! 

 

Handling Adoption Inquiries

 

  • How PVAS Notifies You of Adoption Inquiries: When a potential adopter inquires about your foster dog, PVAS will email you.

  • Required Response Time: Respond to each potential adopter within 24 hours and reply to potential adopters in the order you receive the inquiries. It helps to keep a log to keep yourself organized.

  • Scheduling Meet & Greets with Potential Adopters:

    • Before scheduling a meet and greet, have a conversation with each potential adopter so they can determine if your foster dog is a good fit for their lifestyle, household, and other pets.

    • Ask for the characteristics that they are looking for in a dog and share with them some of your foster dog’s unique traits. This is also a good time to let the potential adopter know about any major medical and/or behavioral issues and/or any of your foster dog’s special needs (e.g., needs a home without stairs due to arthritis, needs a low-traffic home due to anxiety meeting new people, etc.), including any requirements that we have communicated to you regarding any required home set up and management for your foster dog.

    • Create a canned email to send to potential adopters that tells them the basics about their personality and goes into some detail. 

    • If the potential adopter and your foster dog seem like a good fit, schedule a meet and greet as soon as possible. You should schedule the first inquirer that seems like a good match as the first meet and greet and so on.

    • See more details below on how to handle these meet and greets in the “Meet and Greets” section.

  • Setting Expectations:

    • Adoption Priorities and Guarantees:

      • Please do let potential adopters know that there are or may be other potential adopters interested in your foster dog.

    • Out of Area and Out of State Adopters: PVAS gives adoption preference to applicants who live in the RGV area, and out of area/out of state adoptions are subject to our approval on a case by case basis. Please alert our Foster Team if a potential adopter is out of area or out of state. 

    • If a potential adopter already has a young puppy at home (6 months or younger), let them know that PVAS does not recommend that they adopt another puppy until their resident puppy is over 6 months old.

 

Meet and Greets

 

  • We refer to meet and greets between your foster dog and a potential adopter as person-dog meet and greets and between your foster dog and a potential adopter’s resident dog(s) as dog-dog meet and greets.

  • Person-dog meet and greets:

    • Can be virtual, in-person, or both. For some foster dogs, we consider virtual meet and greets sufficient to proceed with adoption. Even if this is the case, some potential adopters may want to do an in-person meet and greet after the virtual meet and greet. For other foster dogs, we require in-person meet and greets.

    • Virtual meet and greets: You can schedule these through Google Hangouts, Zoom, or another software tool.

    • In-Person meet and greets:

      • Required for some dogs with higher-level behavioral needs (you will be notified of this).

      • Should occur in a safe and familiar environment.

        • The foster home may be the best place to have in-person meet and greets as the pup is already familiar with this environment and will typically be at their best.  If you are not comfortable doing a meet and greet at your home, 

        • In-person meet and greets must occur in your home if your foster pup is undervaccinated (typically puppies under 20 weeks). Do not take an undervaccinated dog to a public place for an in-person meet and greet.

      • Use safe hygiene practices, especially for puppies. Dogs that are undervaccinated (typically puppies under 20 weeks) are very susceptible to contagious diseases. Make sure that everyone uses hand sanitizer before handling your foster dog and consider having potential adopters drape a towel over their clothing, as some diseases can be carried on clothing.

    • During the person-dog meet and greet, continue the dialog with the potential adopter and pay close attention to any interaction between the potential adopter and your foster dog. For puppies, try to help prepare the potential adopter for the extra time and effort needed to raise and train a puppy, canine body language, etc.

  • Dog-dog meet and greets:

    • Never allow a dog-dog meet and greet if your foster dog is undervaccinated (typically puppies under 20 weeks), has a Distemper or Parvo label, or Ringworm or Sarcoptic Mange.

 

After the Meet and Greets

 

  • After the requisite meet and greet(s):

    • Any potential adopter that wants to pursue adoption must complete our adoption application. Please refer them to our website. Please let potential adopters know that submitting an adoption application does not guarantee that they will be able to adopt your foster dog and that we do not process adoption applications until the requisite meet and greet(s) have been completed.

    • Email the Foster Team and let us know the adoption application has been completed. Please let us know immediately if you have any concerns that you would like us to address if the potential adopter applies, but please remember that we will consider your feedback in the context of our open adoptions policy.

 

The Adoption

 

  • Most animal adoptions are completed the same day. Adopters must be at least 18 years old and have a valid ID. If they are adopting a cat or kitten, they’ll need to bring a crate, or they can purchase a cardboard carrier at the shelter before you leave. ALL CATS MUST LEAVE IN A CARRIER--NO EXCEPTIONS! Our adoptions are completed through mobile checkout on Shelterluv, our shelter database. 

  • Because you’ll know in advance when your foster pup is going to their forever home, you’ll have plenty of time to prepare yourself to say goodbye - not without a tear - but with no regrets because you know there is another pup needing your help. While saying goodbye may be hard, we hope you also feel tremendous joy in serving as your foster dog’s bridge to a forever home. If you’re interested in hearing how other fosters say goodbye and celebrate adoptions, check out this episode of the Why We Foster podcast.

 

What If You Want to Adopt Your Foster Dog?

 

  • When a foster decides to adopt their foster dog, we consider these #fosterwins! As a foster, you have preference to adopt your foster dog up until a point (more on that below). However, until you’ve notified our Foster Team that you’d like to adopt your foster dog and submitted the adoption application, you must respond to all adoption inquiries. You cannot stop responding to potential adopters. This is not fair to them or to PVAS.

  • Your preference to adopt decreases as you go further down the road with a potential adopter, and if we are at the point where a potential adopter has met your foster dog and submitted an adoption application, you no longer have preference. Therefore, please make the decision regarding whether you would like to adopt your foster dog as soon as possible and notify us immediately. Please do not hold meet and greets or otherwise create false expectations with potential adopters if you are planning to adopt your foster dog.
     

Other

 

Fundraising

 

Because PVAS relies on donations to keep us going and because we often have very specifically-targeted fundraising campaigns, we have strict parameters regarding individual fundraising for a PVAS dog or cat. We have to make sure any funds available to PVAS are getting directed to high-priority targets, like our various campaigns, and to make sure we are being consistent regarding our donor relations. This means that individuals are not permitted to post fundraisers on PVAS websites or social media or use PVAS's name or logo in any way on their personal fundraisers. You are free to fundraise on your personal channels without mentioning PVAS.

 

Thank you for reading this handbook and for helping us save lives!