Fostering a pet in Hong Kong not only helps animals in need, but also have lots of benefits for humans, too! Here's what you need to know
Fostering a pet is a key part of animal rescuing. By opening your home to an animal in need, you not only give them the love and affection they need, but you also help improve their chances of finding a new home! The one-on-one care provided in a home environment is completely different to living in the wild or even in a shelter, and this rehabilitation can help them build their confidence and get used to being someone’s pet.
There are also endless benefits for you! Fostering is also a great opportunity for those who are unable to adopt themselves. This is especially true in an ever changing city like Hong Kong where, if you are planning on moving, it can be hard to transport your pet. Or, if you are looking to experience life with an animal before committing to adoption, this fostering is a great trial experience. You also get to build a relationship with an animal, who may have undergone trauma and hardships, truly blossom and become themselves. And of course, the best part – lots of cuddles! Follow @why_i_foster and @vnexel to see the adventures of two regular foster pawrents!
Fostering a pet in Hong Kong
A pet foster, or as we like to call it, foster pawrent, is someone who provides a safe and loving environment for any animal before they are adopted. This can take many different shapes, from hand rearing kittens, to giving a senior dog a winter home, to training a pup. Whatever the situation, the focus remains the same – helping the pet get ready for their furever homes. Foster parents are also required to provide food, water and, of course, affection! But don’t worry, many shelters in Hong Kong provide food (and even toys and beds) and take care of the vet bills as required.
There are different types of fostering, including a set time period, such as until the pup or kitten is old enough to return to a shelter; an SOS foster (which includes those that are sick, need surgery, or because it is too cold or hot for the pet in the shelter); or a long term placement for an animal until its adopted. Most charities in Hong Kong are set up to offer fostering for a set time period or SOS fosters. However, there are some, such as Kirsten’s Zoo and Paws United Charity, that prefer long term fosters.
Are you ready to try fostering a pet?
While it can seem like an easy way to test drive living with an animal, fostering can be quite intensive, depending on the particular dog or cat you are fostering. Here are some questions to consider before you apply to become a foster pawrent.
1. Is your house foster friendly?
You have to ensure that your home and estate is allowed to have pets. Dogs will require regular exercise and walking, and both cats and dogs can create noise and smells. Moreover, depending on the age of the animal, you may need to puppy proof your house. Young dogs can, and will, get into any and every nook and cranny, eating up your wires, favourite sandals and even the occasional plant. A playpen is a great idea for both cats and dogs to slowly discover their surroundings.
2. Are your family/ housemates comfortable?
Whether you live with family, friends or housemates, be sure to get their approval before committing to fostering. It is a decision for the whole household, as it can impact all everyone’s lives. Discuss responsibilities, time of duration and the support you need to make this a successful endeavour. And if you already have a pet, you can still foster! Let the shelter know about your own pet—and if they like or dislike certain types of dogs or cats—so that the shelter can help you find the best match. An existing pet is often a great foster buddy, as they can help show your new pet the ways of living at home!
3. Does your schedule allow you to foster?
Finally, fostering can be time consuming, especially if you have young kits or pups. Newborns require feeding almost every two hours, so it can be a full time job. Feeding times reduce as they grow, so you can be out and about more, but it’s important to not leave the dog alone for too long at a given time. Also, they can often have vet trips, adoption days and adopter visits, so flexibility is important.
Now that you are ready, the next thing you will need to do is fill out the foster forms for the various charities. Most have a form available on their website and it does require a lot of information, from address details (so that they can make sure it’s an animal friendly apartment) to details about others living with you, to your schedule and availability. Once you have filled out the forms, please be patient. Most Hong Kong animal charities are primarily volunteer run, so it can take time for them to get back to you. Also requests for fostering may be urgent and time sensitive, so they will reach out depending on the need. A great way to keep updated is to follow the shelters on Facebook and Instagram and respond directly if they have a need. You can also find out more about animals in need of fostering by joining the Hong Kong Foster Pawrents group.
Preparing for fostering a pet
What you need
While most charities provide you with everything you need to take care of a dog or cat, it can be helpful to have some things on hand. Food, water, bedding and toys are the basics. After that, it can depend on the animal and age. For puppies be sure to have pee pads, lots of treats and chew toys, and lots of towels. If they are new-borns, you’ll need the special doggie milk powder and ideally a heating pad and blanket. The same is true for kittens. For older cats you’ll require a kitty litter, as well. For older dogs you will need leashes, harnesses, poo bags, etc. It’s also wise to consider getting a playpen; charities usually have spares, as this can help with both puppy/ kitten proofing and helping them get acclimatised. If your dog or cat is sick, you might need medications, cones, etc for their recovery.
Saying goodbye (or not!)
The goal of fostering is to help the animal get adopted. You can help your charity find the perfect home for your foster pet in a number of ways. First, taking lots of great photos and sharing about the pet’s personality helps potential adopters get more information before they make a decision. You can also share this information on your own platforms and within your social circle to help with advertising. Also be sure to attend the adoption days and events, as it is a great opportunity for potential adopters to meet your little one! Some charities might ask potential adopters to visit your home, and this allows them to meet the pet in the comfort of their home. Feel free to show off! Do the tricks they know, show how they like to play and praise them endlessly – it allows the potential adopters to see the personality of the pup or kitten. You can also use the visiting time to see how the pet reacts to the potential adopters, especially if there are kids. Shelters are always looking for your input in such situations! Also feel free to exchange numbers with the adopters, as it will allow you to continue seeing updates as they grow and develop.
And finally, if you think you might not be able to say goodbye, you will join the very exclusive, ‘foster fails’ club. Adopting your foster is one of the best things that can happen to the pet and as long as you pass the adoption screening process, the animal rescue will be incredibly happy to see them find a home with you!