Foster Back-Outs

Pinky was once in a foster home
There's nothing more rewarding than fostering a dog. That alone should be reason enough to do it. 

But in addition, all costs are covered by the animal rescue organization. The foster family gets the love, the joy, and the rewards, while the rescue group takes care of the food, the vet care, and the pet adoption. To me, that sounds like a pretty amazing deal.

But for some reason--that I just can't understand--no one wants to foster. Or, the few that do, often back-out shortly thereafter. You may be thinking: "At least they offered to help, even if only for a short time. It's better than nothing." Well, let me explain the bigger issue behind those short-term, suddenly-can't-foster-this-dog-anymore, foster back-outs

When a family offers to foster for Lucky Dog Rescue, it's a truly amazing act. First of all, fostering presents an incredible opportunity for the rescue dog... a chance to have the love and comfort of a home environment-- often, for the very first time in their lives. Further, foster homes are able to provide the dog with one-on-one attention and socialization... the critical elements needed to improve their chances of pet adoption.

You may ask: "But can't the dogs just get that stuff at the animal shelter? Why do you need foster homes for that?" Well, many rescue dogs have endured years of horrific abuse, leaving them with broken hearts and various issues. These dogs need extra-special love and attention, the kind that foster families can provide them. 

Most animal shelters and rescues are overwhelmed, with many dogs to care for and little help to do so. But foster homes are able to take in one dog at a time... and with a little extra love and care... those hearts begin to heal. Honestly, this means everything to that dog, and it prepares them for pet adoption and an amazing future. 

Missy used to live in a foster home.
Further, the animal shelter environment can be very stressful for some dogs. The isolation of a dog kennel can make existing issues worse... or cause new issues to develop. This may not seem like such a big deal, but it's detrimental. Because eventually, they go "kennel crazy." That's the heartbreaking reality of shelter confinement, and once that happens, no one will adopt them.

If you lived in a tiny cage for an extended period of time... trust me, you'd go crazy, too. Dogs are meant to walk, and run, and play. They are not meant to live in dog kennels forever, and over time, they slowly lose their minds. But foster homes can prevent this problem...you can prevent this problem. (Note: Lucky Dog Rescue pups get plenty of walks and outside playtime, to prevent "kennel rage" from developing. But so many rescue dogs... just aren't that lucky.)

Okay... so, I've given you lots of reasons why fostering is important. But there's another amazing aspect of fostering, from an animal rescue standpoint. When a rescue pup goes to a foster home, a dog kennel opens up at the animal shelter. This is crucial, because now we have room to save another life. And trust me, at Lucky Dog Rescue, there's always another broken dog ready to fill that spot... immediately. 

So, when someone opens their home to a foster dog, they also offer hope to another dog as well. Pretty amazing, right? Cool dog. Free love. Healing hearts. Saving lives.

Well, yes... until that foster home decides that they can't keep the dog anymore, and suddenly brings them back to the animal shelter. At that point, there's no longer a spot for this dog. There's no where for them to go. As soon as this foster dog left, that dog kennel was immediately taken by another pup with no other hope. Sure, rescues could choose to reject all other dogs, for fear of foster back-outs... but then, no other lives could ever be saved.

Diamond needs another foster home
I'm an honest person, so I expect honesty in return. When I'm told, "Yes, Ashley, I will foster this dog until his forever home is found, " I believe it. And then, I use that spot to save another life. 

So, when a foster dog comes back, for no real reason... it's beyond frustrating and stressful for rescuers like me. Of course, we'd never turn away our own rescue baby, so we're forced to make space... where there is no space. We're forced to do more... with no more to give. And we're forced to question the reliability of every single person that offers us help

But also... we're forced to mend a heart re-broken, when that foster dog feels abandoned, once again.

And ultimately, fewer lives are saved... because there are just too few foster homes. That's the heartbreaking reality here. If every animal lover would just foster one dog, MILLIONS of lives could be saved every year.

But without fosters... millions die. If you don't like it, do something about it. Foster.
And please, don't back out.  


  1. Perefect Post! Why would people back out? If you can't commit it, don't do it, donate instead. You will break its heart even more than it already was as he will feel once again he's failed.

    Ever since I foster dogs I feel my life is more complete. At the moment I have the sweetest staffy snoring at my feet. She's my foster at the moment. She's a special needs girl but the love and gratitude she gives in return is priceless. Due to personal circumstances I haven't adopted her yet as I need the rescue to back me up for vet care and short foster if I travel somewhere, plus if all fosterers adopted then there wouldn't be any fosterers. This special needs staffy makes my life complete!

  2. I return them all the time! I foster the sick ones, not the ones who stay until they're adopted usually. I have had several who were being fostered to either keep them healthy because they were at risk, or to help socialize because they came from hoarding or abuse cases, but those are less common for me and a much longer arrangement. The last one almost went back because we had to start isolating one for heartworm treatment and the foster was a puppy that LIVED TO PLAY!! He was adopted the day before the deadline so we were fortunate.

    I want to encourage anyone thinking about it to find the kind of foster you can be. If you can't make a long term commitment, talk to the rescue organization about becoming a "vacation" foster or helping out when other fosters have to leave town for one reason or another. See if the shelter has a program where you can foster sick dogs (dogs with colds, not the plague) so it's about a 2 week commitment. There are a thousand ways to help, and one of them fits your schedule!

  3. Jeanne, thank you for what you do. You aren't a foster back-out, you're a special needs foster. It's much different-- and amazing :)

    I have a weekend foster program where families can foster a dog for a weekend. That's an amazing experience for all involved, and of course, those are meant to come back :)






  5. Diamond is so beautiful sorry baby your foster backed out on you i wish i could help..and i wish every animal lover would or could foster just one dog to save thousands but the truth with me nyways when wanted to foster SAVE a animal not to long ago i was rejected because i had no fence at the time but i had a big nice home and lots of love and toys anf 2 FEET for walking outside for with the dog on a leash and around the neighborhood that kinda made up for no fence for 1 thing i would never ever leave my animal alone in a yard these days anyways so i dont know why i was turned down but i kinda gave up so if were not so i think the guidelines could bend a lottle not evryone is going to have the most perfect spot until the animal finds a forever home if i was a dog just a warm place with food water and lots of love would be all i needed u ti i found my home at least i was saved from DEATH just saying this happened with me is all and i would never back out because i know i am a awsome animal lover of all kinds i gre up up with horses my dad was a rancher back in the day and i would always bring home a dog cat under my arm to heal it back to health andthis was before rescues and fosters ect ect..... and i always found them a home i miss them all but i think fostering is the best ever..

  6. i am sitting beside my foster dog sammy...he was in a gassing shelter in s.c., we were able to rescue him on his last day...best foster i have ever taken care of, sweet gentle and he loves to just have me touching him...this pup has obviously had some hard days and watching him transform from a scared dog to a playful pup has been priceless and so good for the soul!!i wish you had a way to transport north...maine does not believe in BSL laws, it makes me proud to be a mainer!! i wish people would stop turning there heads and offer to help!

  7. I will Foster if ever need be but I am here in Indiana and not sure how I could help but I would in a Heart Beat this is my life dream is to b a rescue for Shepherds but I will help U ashley if I can say the word ..... I am here for you I don't work and would love to help

  8. Ashley,
    You are truly a Blessing from God. Your heart is full of LOVE for these loving, helpless & needy creatures from above . May your tribe increase , keep up the good work & continue to be a Dog's Best Friend . . .

  9. I haven't said it in at least 4 or 5 days... I LOVE Lucky Dog Rescue & Ashley Owen-Hill!!! You always perfectly word what so many of us in rescue live & feel on a daily basis. THANK you for being such an inspiration!

    Ok, back to setting up the pull for the 2 little pitti pups on doggy death row in Lancaster, CA so we can get them to THEIR wonderful fosters & all the love and snuggles they can handle!!! :)

  10. I just let my first foster go to her forever home. I balled my eyes out and was a complete mess and still cry daily thinking about her. I know her new family will love her the way she deserves to be loved and for that I am happy. I didn't think I would be such a mess when my ultimate gaol was to find her the best home. Anyway I was looking g for some comfort and stumbled across your page and im hooked. You have inspire to keep fostering and given me the strength...thank you for that. I am now cuddled up with my adopted dog 3a 3 legged terrier mix who has made my life so much better its hard to describe. Thanks for all you do and your inspiring words :)

  11. This is truly a great blog! I have fostered kittens and cats, and now I foster rats for a small animal rescue (my current living situation is too small for even cats--aside from my own!). Fostering is probably the most important way to help save lives--it is a serious responsibility that no one should volunteer for UNLESS THEY ARE TRULY COMMITTED! Thank you so much for this post! And to Tammy who left a comment from Indiana--if you truly want to foster you should contact animal rescues/shelters in YOUR area in Indiana! I guarantee you this is NOT the only group needing fosters--ALL rescues and shelters are desperately in need of good, committed foster homes! I highly encourage you to be pro-active and make some calls in your community, see where you can be of assistance! It is SO rewarding to foster! Cats, dogs, rats, birds....there are so many options and opportunities! :)

  12. @ Tammy - you can help in your own area! There are rescues all over the US (and world, I'm sure!) who are in constant need of fosters! If you want to help, look into rescues in your area and volunteer to foster, I guarantee they'll be glad to hear from you! :)

  13. Hi Ashley,

    I thought I would give you my thoughts about why fosters send their dogs back. I have been fostering for 15 months now and am on foster #17. A lot of times our pups and dogs come in with severe intestinal issues - you know what a mess that is. I have had dogs with broken bones that required surgery and dogs that were kennel crazy. I finally had to tear up my carpeting and my kitchen floor is in bad shape. Sometimes I have to drive two hours to a vet that gives us a discount. I go to adoption events usually two weekends a month. I have five dogs of my own and every time I say yes to a new foster, I pray that they will all get along. Fostering is a really big commitment and I think that people don't realize what they are getting into. I know fosters send dogs back to the rescue all the time. It is hard as we do the same thing as you and fill our empty crates right away. I know this doesn't help when you have to take back a dog, but not everyone is cut out for fostering dogs. I love following your blog - you are truly an inspiration.

  14. I agree with Black Dog Mom. Many people mean well, but don't realize what they are getting in to. Or perhaps their own pets don't adapt to the newcomer. Or the dog may not be the right fit for the foster family. Sometimes a foster family will have a dog for months. If the dog isn't a good fit, that is a LONG time to deal with the problems that arise. Maybe fosterers should do a trial period before that dog's kennel spot is filled, especially if they are first time fosterers.

  15. Ashley, I greatly admire your work and am very appreciative of you. I have been thinking about becoming a foster mom for sick and elderly dogs. For some reason, all the dogs I ever had came to me as senior citizens, and I love them dearly. I'm also pretty good at caring for them medically now. I have one blind (but totally sweet) terrier mix, and a beagle with a pacemaker, who acts like a puppy and is aggressive with any animal who gets too close to me. I easily manage the situation between the little beagle and the terrier and our elderly cat, and I think I could do the same thing with a foster dog. I work 9 minutes from my house. Do you think I could/should be a foster parent?

  16. I have been considering starting to foster. My husband and I have talked about it. I was thinking after the first of the year when my school schedule clears up so I can be home more in the beginning. My biggest concern is my own furry kids. I also don't know where to begin and how the fostering system works. Our shelter is a kill shelter, but I do understand they work extremely hard to find homes and give chances. Do you attend adoption fairs? Any advice?

  17. I totally want to foster... unfortunately right now I live in a basement apartment w/ my boyfriend and my chihuahua. I'm hoping in a couple of years we will be in a better situation financially (meaning we'll actually have a house!) and I'll be able to help some animals who really need it.

  18. I am fostering my first dog right now. Due to the fact that I have 11 dogs of my own (all but one are rescues) I wanted to do short term fostering only. Rocky, my foster, was supposed to be here no more than two weeks and then he was going on a transport to a rescue in another state. Well, the rescue backed out and I still have Rocky. The lady who pulled him off of death row can not keep him due to the fact that she rents and already has her limit of dogs. She has been contacting rescues like crazy to see if they can take him but all say they're full. Also, even though he was boarded for a week at the vet's office who was supposed to neuter him somehow they overlooked neutering him and now the poor boy has to go back to have this done which will be very hard on him as he has trust issues :( This has not been a good first time experience for me as a foster mom however when Rocky does find a forever home or rescue to take him I will find another foster to take in. I would eventually like to become a sanctuary for senior dogs as they seem to be ending up at shelters in great numbers and that is no way to end a long life!

  19. I'll admit - we don't foster, although we talk about it all the time. Part of the reason is my husband knows me (and I concur!) if a dog comes to our house, it is never leaving. I think we will do it one day, as much as we love dogs, it only makes sense.


  20. I have been fostering for about a year and love it! There have been times when after a few weeks, I've had to "trade" with another foster parent, but that's only happened twice. It's very frustrating when I know so many wonderful dog people who are not willing to foster. I know they would be wonderful fosters, but they think they will get too attached. I have to admit that there have been some of my fosters that I would have liked to adopt, but I know my limits and two dogs (permanent), three kids and a husband are IT for me. Fostering helps me get the "oh, I would love another dog" out of my system because I know that it's only temporary- well, sometimes long-term temporary, but temporary non the less.

  21. Hello, I wondered if you would be so kind and post a link to a super rescue service here in the United Kingdom by the name of K9 Angels.

    K9 Angels work with a trusted network of dedicated individuals, shelters, vets in order to help save dogs from dangerous countries and rehome them to countries of stability like the UK.


    Many thanks,

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  23. I have never had a dog, but just recently fostered one for the first time. The rescue group I worked with sent her home with me with a kennel, food, snacks, toys, leash, etc. However, there were several issues. 1) I was sick, and, having never had a dog before, asked the rescue if they felt I should be concerned either passing it on to the dog, or having enough energy to keep up with her, 2) during her time with me, she got sick, throwing up blood. The rescue group did nothing. just told me to monitor her, despite whining, and guttural noises. After a week, and me no longer feeling comfortable with the situation, and not being able to take her to a vet b/c of the agreement we signed, I told them to find her another foster, and to remove me from their list. I was very disappointed with the experience, and question if I ever would want to foster again.


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