there is always something

Posted: June 9, 2007 at 8:09 am

that pops up and needs attention. for the last few months, our permanent foster program has been giving me some second thoughts. i am not altogether sure because it is hard to truly know and decipher other people’s meanings, but i think we need to shore up our expectations. i have had over the past few months, several phone calls from people enquiring about becoming a permanent foster, and i have gotten that niggling, uncomfortable feeling that to some of them, this means free pet, free keep, free medical, ie good deal….i am not so sure it is all that of a good thing for the animal so i haven’t accepted any of these particular potential homes. i think our animals deserve a little more committment and emotional investment than just that.

dawn, who has just taken on true, called me and said they were going to need to do rabies vaccines on true cuz they visit family across the border. she immediately followed this with that they would cover the cost themselves as this is something they choose to do as part of their family which true is now part of….thank you dawn, and this has gotten me thinking.

what should we be expected to provide for our permanent fosters and what should we realistically expect families to be responsible for? this is a two edged sword because we want our animals to have the chance to finish their lives, beloved, in a home of their own and we do not want fear of skyrocketing vet costs due to their senior status and pre-existing health issues to prevent this. but at the same time, we cannot afford to cover frivolous, multiple vet visits and every possible thing that might be nice just because the bill comes to us and not to someone else.

i had a foster several years ago who was upset with me when i stopped paying for monthly advantage treatments for her 2 indoor foster cats. her own personal dog kept bringing the fleas in.

anyway…i would appreciate some thoughts on this from other perspectives while i am looking for options, solutions and how to firm up our permanent foster program to the best advantage for our animals to ensure that their value is more than just free pet, no cost. they deserve more i think.

9 Comments on "there is always something"

  • Chris T says

    I think this will be a tricky one to navigate Carol given that animals and people are not one-size fits all. Looking at your example of covering the advantage for the cats when the dog kept bringing in fleas – you are correct SAINTS should not cover that. However, what if you were to find a foster home for Buddy and Sissy and the people could not afford the monthly advantage treatment they require as a result of their skin issues? If the stayed at SAINTS you would be covering the cost of the advantage anyway.

    I think you set up a flexible program with general guidelines and expectations. I know when we have fostered for other organizations food was provided. But we were never guaranteed we would get good food or the same kind even. So, we turned down the free food because it was more important to us that the dogs all eat the same food and as high of quality as we could get. If vaccines were done – they were done by the rescue’s volunteers. All dogs were speutered and seen by a vet. If something had happenned and a foster dog needed to go to the vets we called the foster home person who would assess the situation and make the call about the dog going to the vet and which vet.

    I also think the situation is different if you are sending out a relatively stable senior as opposed to one who has active disease. However that relatively stable senior could develop a serious disease as well. I think it is quite difficult to put down paramaters.

    So, after all that here is my suggestion.

    – Foster homes need to cover the cost of food – including prescription diets if necessary.
    – Foster homes need to cover the cost of vaccines if necessary – given that most have had vaccines all their lives the efficacy and need of vaccines is questionable unless going across the border etc.
    – In consultation with SAINTS foster homes should cover the cost of basic medications to keep the animal pain free or daily meds. I am thinking of pain meds, thryoid replacement, insulin etc.
    – All visits to the vet must be approved through whatever system is put in place. Any unapproved visits will be the responsibility of the foster home.
    – Catastrophic vet bills (which should be few and far between as the animal is usually completely vetted would be the responisibility of SAINTS provided the foster home followed the protocol for getting the animal to the vet.
    – Complementary care sought by the foster home would be the responsibility of the foster home.

    I think with those guidelines – some of which you could relax a little depending on the animal and the foster home will help the bottom line a great deal. It will also ensure that foster homes see value in the animals they foster.

  • Leila says

    I am not sure if I have right to be responding to any of this as I have choosen to step away from answering emails for Carol. But being human, I have to stick my nose in where it doesn’t belong sometimes.

    Carol, in regards to people asking to permanently foster a SAINTS animal, this is the protocol I took if I was speaking to someone through email or on the phone and I strongly suspected they were looking for a “freebe” (it is pretty obvious when they are too): I would ask them to fill out the 4 page foster application and forward it back to me. In all cases, I never heard back from them. Usually if someone is looking for a freebe, they are not willing to put the work into it (like filling out an application). I found this to be a polite way of saying no to someone withough actually saying it as the onus is put on the other person to get back to me.

    Chris, in regards to your suggestions on foster protocols, most of that is covered in the foster contract I wrote up for SAINTS. It is very clear what SAINTS’ obligations are for the animals and what the foster homes’ obligations are for the SAINTS animal. In a nut shell it is written up so that SAINTS is not required to pay for extra stuff for the animal. All expenses have to go through and be approved by SAINTS. It does say that SAINTS will pay for food as my understanding was that is what Carol wanted. In my experience though, very few foster homes take a shelter up on that (at least I don’t and I know the foster homes I deal with at the Surrey SPCA do not). Chris maybe could look at the foster contract and tweak it some more or make it more specific to SAINTS needs.

  • Chris T says

    Can you send me the foster contract via email Leila? And the application?

  • Carol says

    my whole thing has realistically saints covers existing health issues including vet care, meds and special diets and other natural age/health related medical concerns…(ie cancer, heart disease, kidney failure etc) as they arise and they age but not basic daily care that any animal will require like worming, flea control, check ups or life style choices…(ie if you choose to take your dog to doggy day care and it gets kennel cough, or if your fence needs repairing and you don’t do it and the dog gets hit by a car and suffers a broken leg, or you mountain climb and the dog falls off a cliff, or you try to do agility with an overweight, senior dog in your back yard and the dog suffers a torn crutiate)…all preventable injuries brought on by human choices…those i think maybe should be covered by the foster families making the choices…does this sound fair and reasonable?

  • leila says

    I think the examples you have been given should be covered by the foster family. In my mind, there is no question what so ever the foster family should be responsible for those things. As a foster home, these are examples of some of the things I don’t ask for a tax receipt on

    1. Jesse got into Luke’s arthritis pills and I had to take him to the vet clinic where he spent most of the day. I think he actaully puked out most of the pills on his own but I had to make sure everything was out.
    This was my responsibility so I will not be handing the vet bill for this at the end of the year.

    2. Penny is taking tracking lessons. I feel this is will help to make her a more focused dog so it is important to me that she does this. The SPCA does not ask me to register any of my fosters into obeidance classes so i will not be asking for a reciept on this.

    However, I did ask for and recieve a tax reciept for Oliver not only for his hydrotherapy but also for vet bills that covered:

    1. taking him to the vet to get liquied build up removed from a callus he developed last year. As he began to walk more and was still unsteady, he would fall down more.

    2. At one point Oliver began chewing his back foot. This was when his nerves began regenerating and I guess he could feel them – they were bothersome so he would chew till he bled. Initially I had to have the vet clinic look after it until I learned to do it on my own.

    Those medical issues, in my opinion, were a direct result of Oliver’s orignal injury so I thought I should get a tax reciept for it.

  • Heidi says

    this is a challenging issue!thought i’d add my thoughts too!
    Perhaps there shouldn’t be any PF except in cases where the animal is not adoptable or an animal is doing very poorly at saints and a suitalble home is found. Then the pf home would just be an extension of saints. I say this having trev as a PF. I know in my heart trev is my dog and would have a difficult time giving him up if a “forever home” came available that could pay the adoption fee and all his expenses on their own. Perhaps PF should be an exception based on the person, the animal, Saints budget etc. In any case:
    – I think the pf should pay for food (inc special diets) toys, treats, bedding, collars, vacs, training and flea tx.

    – I think the pf should pay for vet bills that are caused from the pf care (or lack of). Like not following sp. diets for skin allergies causing ear infections :)!!.

    -perhaps the pf could pay for the vet bills then submit them to saints for possible reinbursement or maybe the pf could accept resp. for medical costs up to a certain amount and saints could pay the rest.For example I could pledge that I could afford to pay up to 100 a month for med bills or 1200 a year but would require financial help with anything more. Just thoughts! I will look after Trevs next vet bill for his ears he is going in Monday. cheers Heidi

  • Christine says

    How about if all permanent fosters were required to commit to a specific amount of time assisting with fund raising efforts to assist with covering the costs involved in keeping these pets with a reasonable quality of life.
    This may provide you with more opportunity to raise much needed funds, and would help deter people who are just looking for a cost free pet.

    I absolutely think that putting your foot down about the advantage was right, and I believe that if a foster does something by choice (like crossing the border, as is the case with True) they should be willing to pay out any extra expenses involved.

    That’s just my 2 cents.

  • Janice says

    I agree with Heidi’s veiw on fostering that it is an extension of the faciltiy. It allows more animals to be placed or free’s up space at the sanctuary. I also view fosters as volunteers and its been my experince that fostering is a colaboration on responsibilities. The best foster homes are the ones who are excited and are preparing fincially as well for there new charges. For me I am grateful with any expences paid by a foster but can i expect it , no. If the animals are in foster they still belong legaly HONS . If they are udner my blanket then I must be prepared fincially to cover everything and anything I can.
    Now saying all that..some folks do need it explained in black and white because they have no concept of where the money comes from and make a ton of assumptions.
    In your case perhaps all foster agreements should have limited time restraints then one could veiw individual responsibilites and enter the next stage of the foster/volunteer program.

  • Carol says

    good points to consider on all fronts.
    this is such a complex issue.
    heidi…call me re: trev’s ear…if he is going to cheat on his diet, there is something else we can try so that maybe that food suck can cheat occasionally without a sore ear. don’t worry about that vet bill, that ear has yet to clean up yet and frankly he’d be cheating alot more up here.

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