Fostering can be challenging and there is a lot to know. We've gathered up our best tips, tricks and rules so that you have a one-stop shop to understanding what goes into fostering.
First off THANK YOU for saving a life. Fostering will be one of the most rewarding things you'll ever do. If you're new to fostering this is a compilation of information you'll need to know to ensure the best for all dogs in Renegade Paws Rescue care. Fostering is a selfless commitment and one we hope that you will love. For many of our babies our foster program may be their first positive experience with people.
Never leave your foster unattended in your yard with children or other dogs.
Your foster should always be wearing a collar with the RPR tag.
We ask all foster parents to use positive reinforcement only. Do not use shock collars, electric fence collars or any other punishment collars.
Please use a crate when your foster is unattended.
Never leave children and dogs alone together. All interactions should be supervised
Do not take your foster to the dog park. If you want your foster to play off leash with other dogs, we can coordinate that with other RPR dogs/fosters.
If your foster dog bites you, another person, or a dog contact your case manager immediately! If you do not get a response, call Jen Taylor immediately at 912.665.6046. These are unlikely scenarios, but urgent nonetheless.
Always work with a case manager to schedule meet and greets and potential adoptions. They will help you with proper protocol and ensure that the dog is ready for these events. Never facilitate these things on your own.
Communication is key! We want to know about all of your frustrations and success stories. Share these with your case manager AND on the FB page.
The following guide will help you make the transition for your foster as smooth as possible. They will be scared, but they will be so glad that you stepped up to save them. We've compiled a lot of information from some very experienced fosters to make sure we give you the best start ever! Thank you for being here! First things first…
Decompression -- Upon bringing your new foster home, the most important thing you can do for them is to let them decompress. The crate is your foster's safe place. This means they should eat in their crate and sleep in their crate. Every dog is different but the majority of dogs we intake need time settling into their crate and home before taking the plunge into meeting your personal dog(s). Please allow them this decompression time.
Warming up -- Unless your foster is a shelter diversion dog, chances are there is little information on his/her past. Allow time for your foster to settle into their new environment. This means not every dog is cuddling by your feet the first night. Some dogs can take up to 3 weeks to fully feel comfortable. Give them time, they deserve it.
Preventions -- Every month on the same day your foster dog should receive a heartworm pill. For example, my dogs receive their heartworm pill on the 10th of every single month. This should be picked up from the office. Pick this up a couple days early so you aren't late on the pill. The same goes for flea prevention. For those of you who don't know about heartworms– heartworm disease is a serious, potentially fatal, issue that we face and it is transmitted only by mosquitoes. The foot long worms live in the heart, and can cause heart failure, lung disease and damage to other organs in the body.
Food/Crates/Toys -- Everything is covered by the rescue. It is your responsibility to pick food up from the office and let us know of anything else you may need. These things can be picked up during office hours, or can be brought to you at your convenience - to events or your home (just ask!) If you would like to purchase items for your foster that is ok and tax-deductible, ask us for a donation receipt
Adult Dog Vaccines -- Adults dogs with uncertain vaccine statues will receive 2 Distemper/Parvo vaccines 3 weeks apart. There is some leniency with the 3 weeks timeline.
Events -- These are always posted on the Facebook page and are an excellent way to get your foster pup exposure to potential adopters. People will show up to events to meet dogs that are advertised to attend. We have “Adopt Me” RPR bandanas, sweaters, etc to make your foster look fabulous. Dogs must be up to date on all vaccines to attend events (DHPP, Rabies and Bordetella). Puppies must have had at least 2 out of their 4 Distempers to attend events in a play pen. Rabies exceptions are made for puppies that will go in play pens to be kept safe. A tarp and puppy pen are REQUIRED and permission must be granted by RPR leadership. Puppies can play one week after second dhpp.
Bios -- This is a snippet of what the dog is like. His/her likes/dislikes. Express any quirks you want to share that a potential adopter might be looking for. But be honest - we don't want any surprises a month after adoption leading to a return. Tell how they get along with other dogs, cats, kids. What their vaccine/spay/neuter/heartworm status is. This is a chance to get creative and share all about your foster. It is always a good idea to reassess your foster's bio in one months time of them coming into your home. The more you post your foster on Facebook the better as this helps the application get to know your dog and help with placement.
Renegade Paws Foster Parents (Facebook) -- Whether it's, “Fido is doing great in our home” or “Fido isn't tolerating our cat” let us know how things are going. The Renegade Paws Foster Parent Facebook group is the perfect place to share this information. We are all here to guide each other along this journey. If you are brand new to the Renegade Paws Rescue Revolution, please give a simple introduction on the foster Facebook page. Participation in the Foster Parent Facebook page is mandatory! If you are not already on Facebook - please create an account solely for this reason. This will allow everyone the chance to give you a proper welcome! For simplicity purposes please always refer to your foster by their intake name. This makes it easy for us to search for the foster in the future.
Stay in Touch -- It is important to always refer to your foster by the name assigned to them when posting them on Facebook. This is so we can easily go back and search for them if need be. Please try to post at least once a week.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION & PEOPLE:
Office address -- 1218 Waters Ave Savannah, GA 31404
Jennifer Taylor -- Our Director and Co-Founder. If you have ANY questions at all, big or small hit her up. Her phone number is 912-665-6046.
Cody Shelley -- Can easily meet fosters at the office. Assists with intakes, adoptions, vaccinations, and media relations.
Tiffany Ellis -- Our foster coordinator, helps determine best fit for the foster home. Assists with paperwork, adoptions, intakes, and vaccinations. Processes adoptions and registers microchips.
Angelique Moody -- Can easily meet fosters at the office. Assists with intakes, adoptions, vaccinations.
Kathleen Swanner -- Updates all fosters on the website for us, uploads their pictures, bios etc. Will help with adoptions, meet and greets, sleepovers, and shots.
Judy Freve-Reese -- The app lady! If something still needs to be done with the application before contacting them, Judy will let you know.
Kristina Bart -- The matchmaker! She takes apps for dogs that have already been adopted and matches them with another perfect dog.
Sarah Moorhead -- Our go to with all of our small dogs (Shih Tzu Queen)
Samantha Fadeley -- Foster onboarding agent. She sends you this beautiful guide and helps you start your fostering journey.
Rachel Weymouth -- All social media and events are coordinated by Rachel, she also manages the community outreach for any event we have. She needs pictures of your pups for Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok!
Eve Sampson -- Answers community questions to our email and Facebook page. She uses the information provided on our foster parent page to answer incoming questions about the dogs in our care.
Cecilia Nix -- Office manager extraordinaire. She does her best to keep us all organized. Also assists with intakes and adoptions.
THE INTAKE PROCESS:
Where Do Your Dogs Come From - We provide a service to our community by intaking “Owner Surrenders.” These are dogs that for some reason can no longer be cared for by the family they were in. In an attempt to divert them from the shelter, RPR will bring these dogs into our care and find them their forever home. We also pull from 2 main shelters in our area - Chatham County Animal Control and Bryan County Animal Control. We are usually notified of dogs that are either on the euthanasia list or dogs that are not doing well in a shelter environment. To give these dogs the best chance at finding a family, we place these dogs with a foster family so they can relax and learn how to be a family member.
How Do We Decide Which Dogs Come In - Since RPR is 100% foster-based, we cannot intake a dog until we have secured a foster home. Once we know where a dog will go, we start the intake process. All dogs in our care have a temperament test to help ensure they will be a civilized member of society - and adoptable!
What Happens When A Dog Comes In - Once the dog comes in, we ask that you meet us at our office to get all of your supplies. The dog will be fully vaccinated and microchipped before they go home. If we're able, we can bathe the dog in the tub at the office. We will also send you home with heartworm, flea preventative and dewormer. Again - we supply EVERYTHING you need for these pups! Within the first week, we will have a spay/neuter appointment for your dog. THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS WE CAN DO FOR THESE DOGS!
Spaying and Neutering - directly impacts the number of animals who are killed in our nation's shelters by reducing the number of animals entering the shelters and freeing up homes for homeless pets that are already born. Not only does altering our fosters prevent unwanted litters, but it also prevents different types of cancer (testicular cancer, uterine cancer).
Spay/Neuter After Care – for the next 24 hours it will be important to keep your foster quiet will the effects of the anesthesia wear off. Your foster will need to be on restricted activity for 1-2 weeks to ensure incision sites can heal properly. If you notice your foster is licking at incision sites, a cone will need to be picked up asap. Give the pain medicine as directed and discontinue if vomiting, diarrhea or anorexia is noticed. Some diarrhea and vomiting is normal as your foster was given preanesthetic sedatives, anything beyond that you should call your case manager.
THE ADOPTION PROCESS:
www.renegadepawsrescue.org - This is where potential adopters will likely find your dog. If they have met your dog at an event, they will be instructed to go to our website to submit an application - this is ALWAYS the first step in adoption.
Application - Once an application comes in for your dog, our Apps team goes to work. We fully read all of the information they provide and decide whether or not it looks like a suitable family for your dog. From there, we call Vet References and Personal References that are listed on the application. If everything checks out, we send the application along to you, the foster parent. Since you know your dog the best, we truly value your intuition and insight with the applicants. We'd like you to call (NOT TEXT) the applicant and have a proper conversation with them. You'll get a good feel of whether or not they will be the perfect family for your foster dog. If (and only if) they sound amazing, we will schedule a Meet and Greet for their entire family (including dogs) and your foster. You will work closely with your case manager to facilitate this.
Meet and greets -These are typically done at the office and should be scheduled for a time that is going to be quiet with as little distraction as possible. This is an opportunity for the potential adopter to see if they and their personal animals will get along with your foster - and if your foster gets along with them. This is also the chance to ask any and all questions of the potential adopter. Your case manager will ask many questions, however you know your foster best. This means at some point the potential adopter will have specific questions only you can answer.
Sleepovers -These are very important! It gives the potential adopter the chance to experience day to day life with the foster. Most end in adoption but some do not. But this is okay, because it means that it wasn't the best fit for your foster dog. A sleepover form (liability waiver) is always required to be filled out before they leave with the dog. Always follow up and see how things are going. All dogs should have a RPR tag before handing over for the sleepover. All records need to be reviewed to make sure adult dogs have had all vaccines (rabies, distemper, Bordetella). Again, a case manager will help facilitate the sleepover.
Adoptions - These will ideally always take place at the office. There is a $300 adoption fee which includes vaccines, spay/neuter, heartworm treatment if applicable, and any other preexisting diagnosis (dentals, mass removals, etc). As long as done with our vet. There is a contract to fill out for all adoptions. If adopters are approved, the dog could go home that day after their meet and greet, so always come prepared with what you would want the adopter to go home with. This includes a couple of days worth of food for transition and a small blanket or toy that will smell familiar to them.
Adoption Denials - Occasionally potential adopters are denied - even after the application process. This could be for many various reasons. We also do not adopt puppies from the same litter and dogs are never adopted as gifts. We never want you to be in an uncomfortable situation, so your case manager will help you politely tell the applicant that they may not be a good fit for your dog. The next day, we will send a formal denial via email.
Following Up With Adopters - This is a very important part of the adoption process - even though the adoption has already taken place. New dog owners can quickly become overwhelmed and we need to advocate for these dogs in their new home. The adopters need to know that there is someone that will answer all of their questions and listen to their concerns. We have noticed that with good follow up, we have less instances of returns.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR COMFORT:
Reducing Stress - The crate is a ‘safe zone·, a place where your foster can rest without being bothered by people, other animals or noises. It is often helpful to put the crate in a spare room with the door shut or baby gated. Other times, it's helpful to put the crate in the living room or kitchen so your foster can watch how the household moves and behaves.
Regular schedule/routine can help your foster feel safe by creating predictable situations.
Stay calm when you are getting ready to leave your foster alone and when arriving back home.
Food toys can be outlets for energy and enrichment. E.g stuffed kongs.
Introduce your foster to dogs and people slowly. Some fosters you should wait a couple of days before introducing them to other dogs. Allow them to decompress before introducing new situations and dogs.
Socialization time is very important for human foster bonding. Most dogs need time to play with us (fetch, walks, training sessions)
Exercise is very important as boredom and excess energy can cause stress Humane training methods are encouraged, positive reinforcement and lots of treats. Start slow as overwhelming them with commands can cause stress.
Being left alone
Noises (fireworks, alarms, thunderstorms, construction)
Fast movements of humans
Medical issues (pain)
Overly-excitability: animals won't calm down. Pacing, whining, jumping, barking
Destructiveness: tearing up furniture, etc.
Repetitive behaviors: excessive licking, pacing/running in repetitive pattern
Shut down: very quiet and rarely moving, not showing interest in environment
Stiff or tense
Aggression (snap, growl)
Yawning, lip licking
Avoiding eye contact
Tucked tail, trembling
Humping, repetitive jumping
If the above aren't addressed in a timely manner these stress factors can lead to more fear, anxiety, over-arousal and possibly aggression.
Don't force your foster into something they don't want to do.
Don't use punishments and corrections, this can cause stress/fear
Don't expose our dog to places that aren't appropriate (parades, parties, fireworks)
Don't expose your foster to overcrowded and rowdy dog parks.
DO give them a comfortable, loving environment where they can relax and learn to be their best self.
Excellent handout on separation anxiety – keep in mind that most dogs don't like when their people leave and will bark/cry for about 30 minutes. True separation anxiety is if a dog is harming themselves to get out of their crate or barking/howling for hours at a time.
Pulling on Leash – We have many different harnesses and head halters to help manage leash pullers. Speak with your case manager on tips and when to pick up one of these.
Jumping – Ignore the behaviors you don't want your foster to do and reward the behaviors that you do want.
Remember that ignoring means:
No touching/pushing off
No talking, do not ask the dog to get off of you.
No eye contact
Even yelling no can be rewarding for a dog.
What to do:
Turn your back, if jumping continues walk into another room and shut the door
If the dog sits or has all 4 paws on the floor, reward them
Mouthiness – The key for this is puzzle toys or stuffed Kongs. When you feel teeth on your skin, calmly walk and grab one of these things. Lure your foster into their crate and leave them in there for a short period (30 minutes to an hour).
SPECIAL MEDICAL CONSIDERATIONS:
Occasionally, RPR will intake dogs with different medical needs. These can range from heartworm positive dogs to dogs in need of an amputation - and everything in between. Renegade does not turn down a dog because of a medical condition! In this section, you can read a little about the most common ailments in an attempt to make them less scary in the event that your new foster has any of these issues.
Things To Know About Heartworm - While many heartworm positive dogs don't show signs of disease, some may have a persistent cough, lethargy or weight loss. We do a quick blood test to indicate the presence of heartworms in your dog. If they are heartworm positive, don't panic! Heartworms are not contagious to humans or other animals! With that in mind, you will need to limit exercise for your dog. No games of fetch, no jogs around the neighborhood - but walking and light play in the backyard are fine. You may notice that your dog gets short of breath much sooner than normal. They may also cough if they've had too much activity. You will need to monitor them closely and make sure that they rest - not all dogs will slow down willingly.
Heartworm Treatment - Our goal for hw+ pups is to have a negative test result within 6-8 months. Your dog will go home with a month's worth of Doxycycline. This is an antibiotic that makes the adult heartworms infertile AND kills the bacteria in the bloodstream that they eat - further making the heartworms weak. Once weakened, we will give you the dates of the actual “treatment” where they will receive the injection of medicine that kills the heartworm. The dates are typically the first Wednesday AND Thursday of every month starting at 6:30 pm.
You must attend both nights!
On night one of heartworm treatment your foster will receive a sedative injection under the skin. This helps keep them relaxed and calm for the intramuscular injection in their back. This is the injection that targets the adult heartworms. The same thing will happen on night 2, however your foster will be sore and exhausted from the night before. You will receive pain medication that you can give your foster to help with any aches. You will also receive a tapering course of Prednisone. Prednisone is a steroid that helps reduce inflammation in the lungs and heart caused by the heartworms in their dying phases as well as reducing the risks of clots that can cause sudden death. Follow the Prednisone directions very carefully, mark the directions on your calendar, it is very very important. Following the injections it is also extremely important to keep your foster very calm while the medicines do their job. You will be instructed to give your dog strict crate rest for the following week - with extremely limited activity for the next month. 6 months is when your foster can be re-tested for heartworm disease, but by then they will hopefully be adopted!
There is a specific heartworm treatment Facebook page that you will need to be a part of that is very helpful.
Jen will include a heartworm treatment aftercare paper to send home with you on the first night of treatment.
Other Common Medical Terms:
Intestinal Parasites (worms) -majority of puppies are born with worms. Only 2 types of worms are visible by the naked eye, roundworms and tapeworms. It is imperative to pick up dogs poop every single time to prevent infestation in your yard or public grounds, and to prevent infection to other animals. Worms are not contagious, however if your dog eats feces they can contract intestinal parasites via ingestion.
Tapeworms - These look like rice segments and come from your foster eating a flea.
Roundworms - these are long worms that look like spaghetti noodles. Don't be alarmed if you see these during deworming, it is actually a good thing because the deworming is doing its job. Always pick them up and their microscopic ova and discard properly.
Whipworms – extremely hard to see with the naked eye, typically discovered microscopically. Not as common, but any common dewormer will get rid of these.
Hookworms – Live in the dog's digestive tract and the ova live in the soil, so it is SO important to pick up your animal's feces every single time they go. These are particularly bad for puppies because they suck the animals blood causing blood loss leading to possible anemia.
Coccidia – Non-worm parasites that are typically passed from mom dog to puppy. Albon will treat coccidia.
Mange – Parasitic mites that live in the hair follicle that cause hair loss from itching and irritation. Treatment is Bravecto or Nexgard.
Fleas – Most common external parasite found in dogs. Very treatable with flea control (Nexgard, Bravecto). A bath with dish soap is recommended.
Deworming – Deworming is vital for all puppies. Deworming starts when they get their first distemper vaccine. It is a liquid deworming called Panacur and the dosing is 1cc per 5 pounds of body weight. This is another reason why regular weight checks are important. Depending on where the puppy comes from/their background story we will just continue with Panacur or we will incorporate Albon that treats Coccidia. This is done at their second distemper vaccine. Deworming can be done at any time in adult dogs when we suspect that worms are present.
During Intake, we will give your foster Heartworm Preventative, Flea Preventative, and Flea Rapid Kill (if there are any signs of fleas). We will also send you home with dewormer medication that will need to be given in a series (instructions will be included.)
Medical Concerns That Shouldn't Wait:
Coughing – If your foster has been coughing for more than 12 hours, notify Jennifer so we can see about getting them into the vet. Also take a video for reference, as we know many problems halt when taken in for the issue.
Lethargy – This should be taken seriously and should be documented when it started, how long the lethargy has been going on for, and if it has gotten worse.
Vomiting – If your foster has vomited more than 2 times, your case worker or Jennifer should be notified. Notes should be taken on when it started, volume produced, pictures of the vomit, and if blood is noticed.
Diarrhea – If diarrhea has persisted more than 24 hours, your case worker or Jennifer should be notified. Try to remember if any new foods/treats were given. Check the house/yard to see if anything odd might have been consumed. Document what the feces look like, if there is any blood, and the amount of times your foster is going.
Anorexia - if your foster hasn't eaten in 24 hours this is an immediate concern. Contact Jennifer with a detailed message on what has been going on. Document when it started and the foster's behavior and bowel movement history.
Things That Aren't Considered Immediate Emergency:
Itching – if your foster is itchy, post in the Facebook foster group with a detailed message about where and how long your foster has been itchy. This includes fur loss and gnawing/biting at themselves.
Limping – Take a video of what you're witnessing at home. This will better help with logging if the limping has gotten worse or is improving. Also notify Jennifer if it has been going on for more than 12 hours. Keep your foster in a crate and very calm to ensure things don't get worse.
Sneezing – Document what you've noticed and notify Jennifer.
Please review the medical section on worms.
Consider all puppies that have not received their 4 DHPP vaccines “bubble puppies.” This means they should not go into public due to the danger of contracting a serious disease. Absolutely no dog parks, downtown walks, or any areas that have a high volume of dog traffic. They should not even be allowed in your back yard until after the 2nd booster. This is to prevent the spread of highly contagious diseases (parvo, distemper) to our babies that cannot fight them off yet.
All puppies will receive Distemper/Parvo vaccines every 3 weeks until they are 16 weeks of age (typically 4, but sometimes 5 vaccines, depending on age of intake). Bordetella vaccines (kennel cough vaccine) are typically done around 14 weeks of age and are given intranasally.
Weight check ins are also important to ensure that we are still on the right weight size for their monthly flea/heartworm preventions.
Puppies can get adopted at 8-10 weeks. This means they can go home ideally a week after their second Distemper/parvo vaccine is given. They are still considered bubble puppies until they've had all of their distemper/parvo vaccines, and we are adamant to remind adopters of this.
RPR covers costs of puppy booster shots after adoption. This is a good chance to get a visual on the puppy and check in on how things are going with their new family (behavior/adjustments).
Signs Something Is Wrong In Your Foster Puppy – Puppies have one job, to grow! So if they aren't eating, or aren't acting like normal something is not right. If you noticed any of these things and/or vomiting/diarrhea contact Jennifer immediately.
Emergency At Home Parvo Treatment
Signs of parvo include weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting, dehydration, diarrhea. The main way to spread the virus is through direct contact from the infected, being the dog's stool. HOWEVER, this virus can live on humans clothes, shoes, and car seats. If there was a chance you were around an infected animal, all immediate things need to be washed as soon as possible. Don't bring exposed clothing inside to susceptible animals. This virus can survive years so it is imperative to hit it hard to ensure the virus has been knocked out.
The main course of treatment is supportive care depending on how sick the animal is. IV fluids, antibiotics, blood transfusions. If you suspect your foster may have parvo do NOT wait. Call Jennifer.
AFTER HOURS EMERGENCY:
Typically the foster parent knows when something isn't right. Unsteady on the feet, multiple seizures, severe wounds, a lot of blood, are all signs to head to the emergency clinic. Always attempt to call your case worker or Jennifer, but in the rare chance you can't get ahold of her, head straight to Savannah Veterinary Emergency Center.
There is an emergency button on the front door and they are staffed 24 hours.
Phone number is 912-355-6113.
OTHER RENEGADE-SPECIFIC INFORMATION:
Microchipping - Though not a GPS, this technology contains a unique ID number for your animal that if plugged into the computer can pull up certain information. Microchipping is extremely important and once registered it can bring up vital information (RPR information/phone numbers)
Renegade Paws Rescue Tags - Even though your foster is microchipped, this does not replace the need for your foster to be wearing a RPR tag at all times. These can be picked up at the office and placed on your foster's collar.
Medical Records (aka Med Sheet) - Every animal in the rescue has records (vaccines, treatments) that are kept at the office. This is to provide organization and immediate reference to everything needed for a specific dog. If you need them for any reason you will need to pick them up at the office, or have someone bring them to you. These records can also be emailed to you.
Medical Visits - We work with 2 main animal clinics: Rice Hope and Faulkville Animal Hospital. If for any reason you think your foster needs to be seen by a veterinarian, these concerns need to be brought to Jennifer's attention ASAP. Please review the section on “Medical Concerns.” All medical visits are made and authorized by Jennifer.
Case Managers - The job and goal of the case manager is to ensure that all foster parents and fosters are set up for success. Case managers will walk you through the process of meet and greets, sleepovers, and adoptions. All questions about your foster applications should be referred to your case manager.
What if I need to go out of town while I'm fostering?
Notify your case manager and post on the foster Facebook page the dates you'll be out of town, and a short snippet about your foster. We will always find someone to watch them while you're out of town. The sooner you can tell us about an upcoming trip, the better!
I found a dog, what should I do?
Always try to locate the owner first. Take the dog to get scanned for a microchip at a veterinarian's office or at the Renegade office. If you can't immediately locate the owner you can either take the dog to Chatham County Animal Services for a stray hold, or you can do the stray hold in your home. If you choose to do the hold in your home, you MUST report the dog. After the stray hold, the dog can legally be up for adoption through RPR.
Thank you so much for joining the Renegade Revolution! We are beyond happy to have you! It takes a village to save the world one dog at a time, and we are part of that village. At Renegade Paws Rescue, we believe that the way animals are treated is a direct reflection of our community standards. We aim to provide services to our community by caring for the ones that do not have their own voice. We couldn't do this without you!