foster carers play a vital role in helping us to rescue animals in need and preparing animals for their forever homes
It is an incredibly rewarding experience that requires commitment and patience for everyone involved.
Our foster carers provide a nurturing home environment where their foster pet can be relaxed as they adapt to their new environment. The role can be challenging at times but it will give you a sense of fulfilment in knowing that you played an important part in providing your foster pet with a second chance at life.
We are always looking for new carers to join our team. Our case managers are experienced and skilled in matching your capabilities and situation with a suitable foster animal.
So, if you think you’re ready to help us save lives then check out our FAQ’s below and submit your application today!
“Being a foster carer is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had.
The Project Underdog Rescue team gave us so much support and guidance and together we were able to give Mabel attention, love and time she needed to become the playful and content dog that she is today. It was an incredible process to be a part of and I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do you need foster carers?
We don’t have a shelter so all our animals are placed into screened, suitable and loving foster homes across Melbourne.
Having animals in a foster home is far less stressful than a shelter/pound/kennel environment. They can decompress in a calm environment, display natural behaviours, socialise with people and other animals at a pace they’re comfortable with, retreat to a safe place when they’re anxious, the list of benefits goes on!
Fostering gives animals the opportunity to thrive, setting them up for a smooth transition into their forever home.
What does it mean to be a foster carer?
Foster carers are the life blood of our organisation. They are people just like you and I.
They selflessly commit to love and care for a rescued animal in their home until a suitable forever home is found.
They love the animal like it were their own. They provide their foster pet with a safe place to sleep, a warm lap to curl up on and an environment that enables them to succeed.
Foster carers communicate regularly with our animal rescue program team, keeping us updated on progress and to provide valuable information so that we can support them and their foster pet.
Under the guidance of our force free trainer, they provide basic training and enrichment for their foster pet.
They work closely with our veterinary team to ensure their foster pet’s medical needs are addressed and alert us to any concerns they may have.
With their dedicated case manager, they put together an adoption profile, read short listed applications that come through and help facilitate meet and greets with potential adopters.
The most important part about foster caring is treating the foster pet with patience, empathy and kindness.
Can I foster if I've never done it before?
Yes! In fact, most of our foster carers start out as first timers.
We’ll be here to support you every step of the way. You’ll be given a handbook as part of your induction and can ask any question of us day or night. You’ll have a dedicated case manager, a qualified animal trainer and a qualified veterinary nurse available to your whenever you need the,.
Plus, our team of volunteers are also available to help with things such as transport, dog walking, house sitting should you need any extra assistance.
Can I foster if I have other pets?
Yes! You can definitely foster if you have other pets, it will just limit the animals we can place with you so we just urge you to be patient.
There are a few things for you to consider when you have existing animals. Are they comfortable having another animal in their space? Do they enjoy socialising with other animals? Do you have the space and time to care for an additional animal?
We have to consider whether the rescued animal will be safe and comfortable living with other animals. However, when we are assessing animals in a pound/shelter environment this is really difficult to ascertain as they’re often under extreme stress and could be shut down and therefore not showing their usual behaviours.
For this reason, we often look for pet free foster homes for a lot of the animals we bring into care. However, there are times when this doesn’t apply.
Most of the time, if your cat is vaccinated and has proven to enjoy being around other cats/kittens then we are happy to place young kittens with you.
If we get a dog that is currently in foster care with another organisation or through private rehoming and is happily living with another dog then we would look at introducing them to your dog to see if they are compatible.
If you’re not sure, we still encourage you to complete a foster application and let our super experienced and knowledgable case managers figure out if you and your current fur family would be suitable.
Can I foster if I have young children?
Generally we look for homes without small children (under 6 years of age).
Young children require a lot of time and undivided attention and no matter how much we think we can manage young kids and a foster pet, often it becomes all too much.
Even if you’re able to actively supervise your child whenever they are around a dog, an injury could still occur. This is because often it’s not just about supervision, it’s about us adults learning to read, understand and appropriately respond to dog body language.
From an animal’s perspective, children can behave erratically, move in unpredictable ways and make a range of loud and sudden noises which can easily scare them. If that animal is already stressed and in an unfamiliar environment (like a foster home) then the risk of that animal biting increases.
Young children may also lack the motor skills to be able to control their movements and be gentle, simply because they’re still developing.
Cats too can find young children a little daunting and unpredictable and as sensitive creatures of habit and routine, they can easily become stressed which could lead to them developing cystitis.
In saying all of that, it’s not a flat no, but realistically there aren’t many animals we rescue who would be suited to living with children under the age of 6.
Can I foster if I work full time (away from home)?
Yes, though it depends on the animal.
For cats – generally they are quite happy being on their own for up to 10 hours at a time, providing they have had their needs meet.
With dogs, it’s near impossible for us to tell if a dog is going to struggle being left alone for long hours or suffer from separation anxiety when we are assessing them in a pound/shelter environment.
Sometimes we are fortunate enough to have some information on the animal’s history and if we know they are happy enough being left alone then are comfortable placing them with full time workers.
We always ask that for the first week of placement, that the foster carer be at home with the animal so that alone time can be gradually built up.
We have had many animals come through our program who are perfectly happy spending time along, as long as their needs have been met!
How long will I have the animal for?
A lot of our rescue animals have come from unstable backgrounds so our aim is for them to stay with the one foster carer until they are adopted.
How long it takes for an animal to get adopted is unfortunately impossible to answer. It could be 2 weeks, 2 months or even 2 years! At the moment (September 2022) we’d say the average time is about 6 – 9 months.
We have had animals we thought would be adopted quickly be in foster care for over a year and on the flip side have had animals we were worried would take years to find their perfect forever home, be adopted in a matter of weeks.
It is vitally important to us that animals have a stable home to stay in before their final move to a forever home. Moving between foster families is a very stressful event for any animal, let alone ones who have already been displaced before so we owe it to them to minimise changing environments as much as we possibly can.
The most important ting to us is that each animal finds their perfect forever home and we will never rush that process for any reason.
If you do apply to foster, please just let us know what time frame you can commit to and if things change, we just ask that you give us as much notice as possible so that we can work to prepare the foster animal for the move.
However, we have had cases where animals have been adopted after a few weeks (usually puppies and kittens). On the flip side, we have also had dogs and cats, mainly those with special needs and complex challenges, that have taken 18 months to find a home for. It’s really important you let us know up front if you have a time limit on fostering.
What if I want to adopt my foster pet?
You wouldn’t be the first person and you won’t be the last!
Foster ‘failing’ is very common and one of the reasons we are always looking to onboard new foster carers. If you think you would like to adopt your foster pet, then speak with your case manager as soon as possible to discuss the adoption process.
Our number one priority is finding the perfect forever home for each animal and if that turns out to be the foster carer then that is exactly what will happen.
Can I foster if I live in an apartment?
A number of our foster carers (and adopters) live in apartments.
We will do what we can to make sure that any animal we place with you is likely to cope well in an apartment.
The most important thing about fostering (or having a companion animal) is being able to meet the animal’s daily needs. Something, we will guide and support you on.
You can learn more about the Hierarchy of Dog Needs here
Can I foster if I live outside of Victoria?
As our team of case managers, vets and animal trainers are based out of Coburg, we need our foster carers to be within a reasonable distance. This is so that the team can head out to them quickly and at short notice should they require our in person assistance.
We also have a network of veterinary clinics located close by that our foster animals may need to go to and it wouldn’t be fair for a person or a foster animal to have to travel more than an hour to get to these clinics or to collect supplies from our HQ.
We feel very strongly about being involved in all our animals transition from pound to foster home and from foster home to forever home. It is important that we are close by should our foster parents need our assistance at short notice.
There are lots of great animal rescue organisations all across the country so we urge you to get in touch with your local rescue group and offer to foster.
Do I need to provide food and bedding?
One of the great things about fostering with us is that it will not cost you a cent!
You get all the benefits of having a pet but without spending any money – pretty cool hey?
We’re so lucky to have some incredibly generous donors and partners who help us put together some pretty epic foster packs and who help to subsidise the cost of the ongoing expenses.
Plus, we have our own in house veterinarian!
What if I have a holiday in a few months time?
Everyone needs a holiday!
We just ask that you let your case manager know as soon as possible (ideally 8 weeks notice) so that we can prepare for the foster animal to move into another foster home.
For our more anxious animals, we will likely arrange a couple of meet and greets with the new carers prior to the move, to help with the transition.
What is the process to become a foster carer?
- Complete an application to become a foster carer by clicking on the button at the bottom of the page.
- One of our friendly volunteers will review your application for suitability within 10 business days.
- Once reviewed and if suitable, a case manager will call you to discuss your application in more detail and answer any questions you may have.
- We will then arrange a time for one of our volunteers to come out and do a property inspection. This is just to make sure everything is safe, secure and suitable.
- After the property check is completed you will receive a handbook and foster agreement to read through and complete
- You’ll then be welcomed into our foster team and a case manager will be in touch if we think we may have an animal suitable to your circumstances.
Remember, our animal rescue program is run by volunteers so please be patient with us!
Do I have to register my pet with the council?
Yes. Under Victorian law, foster carers are required to register all animals (over three months of age) housed at their premises with their local council; even if the animal is only with them temporarily. Most councils offer reduced registration fees for individuals who voluntarily enrol with their local council to be a ‘registered foster carer’. We suggest getting in touch with the animal management team at your local council and asking what the process is.