From Foster To Furever Homes – Benefits Of Fostering

Every year our big-hearted community of foster carers open their hearts and homes to more than 2,000 in need, giving them a better chance at finding a lasting forever home.

For Jacqui Heynen, her desire to see animals living in a stable family home while they wait for their happily ever after is what inspired her to become a Foster Carer with RSPCA South Australia.

“I have two dogs and two high school-aged children at home and if the dog waiting for adoption can have ‘has lived with older children and other dogs’ added to their profile, it increases their suitability for a wider range of potential forever homes,” she explained.

Having now fostered five puppies and dogs, a highlight for Jacqui and her family was caring for their longest foster friend – Brodie the Border Collie puppy. Brodie came into RSPCA’s care as the result of a commercial puppy breeding farm seizure in October 2023. Jacqui put her paw up to care for Brodie when he was only eight weeks old, providing an invaluable opportunity for him to learn new skills and be exposed to new experiences within a loving and patient environment.

“He learned a lot while he was with us and was such a funny, loving puppy. Brodie had been exposed to very little in his original home and had only a small range of experiences in his time at the shelter, but he approached everything that we exposed him to with trust and enthusiasm. While we were very sad to see him go, he is now living his absolute best life with a lovely family who adore him,” recalled Jacqui.

Photo: Jacqui with Brodie the Border Collie.

“I also fostered a puppy who was severely underweight and had come from a situation where he was fighting his littermates for every meal. While he was with us, we worked to address his food guarding and introduce various ways to help him trust that each meal wasn’t his last and that he could relax.”

That’s the wonderful thing about fostering – throughout the foster journey you get to witness an animal transform into the best version of themself through your love, guidance, and support. Sure, animals are well cared for in the shelter, but we know they thrive in a loving home environment. In fact, a major factor for our vastly improved rehoming rate (9 out of every 10 animal is being rehomed) is thanks to the shift to our foster care model. Of course, we couldn’t have made this shift without the compassion, generosity and kindness of our amazing foster carers.

“A foster carer can introduce experiences that these animals have never had before. For a dog to go from being scared of everything to happily going for a walk around the neighbourhood with the family, it genuinely makes a difference to their welfare,” said Jacqui.

“A dog that is suitable for a broader range of potential homes will generally get adopted quicker and that is what we all want.”

Photos: Jacqui with foster friends, Hank (left) and Sadie (right).

If you’ve ever thought about becoming a foster carer, Jacqui highly recommends you give it a go.

“You can choose when you foster, which animal you foster, and how long you will foster for. Everything is provided from food, to blankets, to a travel crate and the foster team are always available for advice,” she said.

“Talk to the foster team with any concerns you may have. They won’t recommend or allow you to foster an animal that isn’t suitable for your home situation or experience levels.”

As for Jacqui’s top foster tips, she believes it’s essential for prospective foster carers to make the decision to proceed or not with their family or the people they live with as it’s imperative that everyone in the home be on the same page.

“Fostering can sometimes lead to household disruption as animals settle in, so it’s important that everyone is on board. Plus, if you’re putting rules in place around how the dog is to be managed at home, everyone needs to know what to do,” she said.

“Most importantly, go into the experience with patience and an open heart, it can be so incredibly rewarding for the dog AND the foster carer.”

“Fostering really adds to my family’s life, we love having foster dogs and helping them on their journey to their forever home,” she concluded.

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