The Pros and Cons of Fostering Dogs

Ian Achterberg, Reporter

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Over the past few years, my family and I have fostered dogs for an organization called Operation Paws for Homes (OPH).

We have gotten foster dogs from owner surrenders, strays or shelters where the dogs are on the euthanasia list.

We have temporarily held over 120 dogs, sending all but one away to a new forever home.

Frank, the one-year-old pit bull, was saved from a poor situation. Photo by: Ian Achterberg

The only one we didn’t send, we adopted ourselves; Frank, a blue-eyed pit bull that loves people.

Many people I talk to are equally interested and saddened by the topic, as the stories of every dog has its ups and downs.

However, many people wonder how a foster family can let go of the dogs that come through their doors.

It’s really simple in my mind; if I adopted every dog that I came across, I could save five to eight dogs.

But if we let them go off to their home where they will spend their time as someone’s special dog for the rest of their lives, we can save one to three almost every month.

Despite the happy endings almost every dog sees, there are some drastic ups and downs to fostering.


The Bad:

  • Un-housebroken dogs are a pain. They stain the carpet and wet the floors, as well as stink up the house.
  • The time commitment of fostering is immense at first. It is overwhelming and can be stressful, but after a while, the rhythm of walking the dogs and cleaning up after them becomes second nature.
  • Having dogs leave your home is sad, and the silence left by them after they leave is depressing. But by sending that one dog off to another family, you make room for another dog, who quickly fills the space left by the dog before them.

The Good:

  • Just as it can be sad, fostering generates the happiest feelings for the families involved. In my short time fostering, over a dozen puppies have been born in our home, which is a miracle in itself. To see the dogs growing up from less than a pound to over 15 is incredibly elating. As they grow, it is even more pleasing to see the dogs adopted by a loving family and to see kids grinning, as if they just got a new friend.

    Dixieland is the most recent ‘momma’ dog in our house. Photo by: Ian Achterberg

  • The interactions with the dogs make up for anything negative they have done. When the dogs are bouncing around the house with their happy faces, the memory of them eating your snack fades from your mind.
  • When the dogs are adopted, it leaves a wonderful feeling in your heart. Just as sad as it is to be without them, knowing that the dogs are happy in their new lives makes up for the quiet. When the dog we had for 11 months left, we were torn. We were sad that she had gone, as she felt like she was ours. But at the same time, it was blissful knowing that the dog that would have been put down one year prior was just adopted into a loving family.

Should You Foster?

Getting even one dog off the street, or out of a kill shelter, can seem insignificant to many. But to that dog, it was just saved from their horrible life.

The feeling created by saving that dog is hard to replicate anywhere else, and fostering allows you to do that regularly.

However, there are many reasons that someone can’t foster; time constraints, space restrictions or allergies can prevent someone from fostering. Serious consideration should be taken prior to. 

Ultimately, the more people who foster or even adopt from a foster family or a shelter is for the better.