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06 August 2008


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Unfortunately, I think all the issues you mentioned would be in my mind, plus:

fear of some sort of reprisal (legal or otherwise) if the pet's care wasn't handled according to the owner's desires

fear of the pet not getting along w/my pets or some other "ill fit" attribute and then being stuck in a bad situation

What if MY circumstances changed and *I* needed help?


I probably wouldn't, partly because I am at my dog limit. I'm also not that good at fostering--the one time I tried it, I ended up adopting the dog after a month! But *if* I were going to foster, this arrangement might make me a bit nervous. It sounds good and helpful, but I think it might turn out rather complicated--with a lot of uncertainty about who owns the animal and who is taking responsibility for it. If I was going to foster, I would go the same route I did before, going through a well established rescue organization.


Probably not. I'd be worried about the huge potential for sticky situations. Who makes the decisions about things like medical emergencies for example. What if the owners are never able to take the dog back, but I don't want to keep the dog forever? Stuff like that.

I'd consider fostering for an organization in which everything was laid out in black and white, but probably not informally.


I wouldn't do it informally unless it was a friend or relative. And even in that case, I would only do it if I thought it wouldn't create chaos for my current pets.


I and a few others have already done so. My previous rescue foster was a foreclosure dog.

One big issue is legal liability if you are fostering for the owners, but they still legally own the dog. Shelters and veterinarians are protected if a dog is left to long. It legally becomes theirs and they can keep, rehome or if required euthanize.

It gets really murky where private citizens are involved. also most private individuals who foster for a shelter or 501c rescue will be protected by their hold harmless clause and insurance. no protection for the private homeowner if Fido turns into Cujo and attempts great bodily harm on a visitor or family member. The "owner" could easily say they had verbally released the dog to the new owners and contracts and paperwork might not stand up. Additionally, many places consider the person with physical control of the pet to be responsible in the case of damage or injury.

Our rescue has kept dogs for folks, but they have to give the dog up to rescue. If they stay in touch and find new circumstances appropriately, the dog is adopted back.

So the long and the short is , yes, I'm willing, but to protect everyone involved, I would think it best if local rescue or shelters facilitated it under their umbrella


I recently considered this. There was a kitten given up to a shelter due to foreclosure. I considered adopting it and adding it to our family of one kitty and 3 adults.

At first I thought the kitten was in a nearby tiny town but later discovered it was clear across the State so I didn't pursue it.

I would be come too attached to foster and then give back a kitty I suspect.


I would through a shelter or rescue, not on my own though. I can't right now due to circumstance (full house and Dot's not keen with all dogs). When I was doing indie rescue, I did one at a time knowing I may end up with a second dog for possibly life and if I had to take one back from an adopter I could be at 3 temp or forever.

I would think there would need to be time limits and a formal contract. A friend of mine ended up adopting her Katrina foster. She was thinking of a second dog when she agreed to foster, so an owner never being located wasn't a problem. She did it through a rescue, so if it didn't work out with her dog, she had options and wasn't "stuck" on either issue.

How are the groups working with or soldiers doing it? I know they have fosters.


Due to my general lack of sympathy for 99.5% of the so-called "foreclosure victims", I would not make a decision for or against fostering any particular animal simply because of, or in spite of, whether the much-beloved-pet had lost its home to due foreclosure or any one of the myriad other "reasons" people list for giving up their animals.

Christie Keith

I know just what you mean. For instance, this guy who lived across the street from my friend in another town, one with one of the highest rates of foreclosure in California.

He bought his home around 18 months ago, for just over seven hundred dollars. It was a large home, for him and his family, but given this is California, that wasn't a mansion. Just a big suburban house in a nice area.

He lost his job when the company employing him closed down.

He couldn't get another one in his area.

Because they were a large employer in the region, in a hard-hit industry, many others in the area were also out of work. There were many, many foreclosures -- 1 in 10 homes in the area, in fact.

They put their house on the market, but the collapse of the housing market due to the collapse of the local economy had driven prices down so low that they couldn't even sell their home for as much as they owed on it. They weren't able to refinance because he was unemployed. So they mailed back their keys and left, taking the kids to live with the mom's sister.

Now, he had two cats, and as far as I know they kept them, but I don't actually know. All I know is that it's absolutely, positively his fault, and his wife's, and their kids', and CERTAINLY their cats', that their home could not be sold, nor saved.

By the way, it sold as a foreclosed property for under $200K a few weeks ago... down from over $700K less than two years before.

But they should have done something to prevent that... like, oh, I don't know... gone to school for another career 30 years ago, or lived somewhere else where the economy is booming and real estate prices have remained strong, as is the case in so many parts of this great nation of ours.



I feel very sorry for helpless children and pets caught up in the foreclosure mess. For whatever reason the parents and pet owners have for facing foreclosure, it is extremely traumatic for kids to lose their homes, usually have to change schools, sometimes the family is broken up. The poor animals have no say-so at all what happens to them. In many of the areas with the most foreclosures, apartment rents have been jacked up. By 2010, one out of every eight houses in this country will have been foreclosed on or will be up for foreclosure. I fostered a dog owned by a family who fled New Orleans because of Hurricane Katrina. The dog owners were friends of friends. The dog - Booster - chewed up some furniture and a door in my house. But i don't blame the poor dog who'd been shuffled from place-to-place until he ended up at my house. The dog owners stayed in Houston for six months before moving back to New Orleans. In the end they proved very reluctant to take back their dog. The couple and their two boys visited Booster only a few times while i had him. It was only because of the determined efforts of the friends who talked me into giving Booster a foster home that his owners eventually came and got him. Their excuse was the "trauma" of restarting their lives in New Orleans and how they no longer had time to care for a pet. It was difficult situation for me because i already have one cat over the two pet limit restriction for my area. I would be very hesitant to foster another pet for people losing a home for any reason. As for the foreclosure mess, i believe a lot of the executives at all these mortgage banks who made zillions of $$$s in bonuses off sub-prime loans belong in prison. I have a client who recently lost his job at one of the largest sub-prime lenders in the country. He told me a lot of borrowers could have qualified for other types of loans, but were talked into adjustable rate mortgages and low-doc loans because those were the types of loans the brokers could make the largest cuts on and could be closed on quickly. Yes, a lot of people were flippers and loan liars. But a large number of people were mislead by the loan officers and mortgage brokers. And, as usual, it is the children and animals who will suffer the most when their lives are thrown into turmoil.

Susan Fox

I would consider it only if the animal had been signed over to a non-profit rescue group. I've learned from my volunteer work at our county shelter that it's important to keep who has legal ownership of an animal as clear as possible.

As is usually the case, the devil is in the details. One wants to be compassionate and help people who are in a tough spot, but the exposure is too great these days to risk just taking in someone's dog for an indeterminate amount of time.

I don't see any reason why there couldn't be an open-ended reclaim period as long as everyone understood what the deal was. It would certainly be up to me to keep a grip on my emotions and not muddy the waters by "getting attached" to someone else's dog. That wouldn't be fair.

H. Houlahan

I am certain that the breed rescue I foster for will be facing this issue regularly.

My take on it is that we could accept dogs for "foster to return" with a clear contract in which the owners agree to:

* Provide a reasonable stipend to feed the dog (this one negotiable with the foster home)

* Agree to cover veterinary costs

* Have a clear agreement about the limit on veterinary costs, and empower the foster home and Rescue to make emergency decisions, including emergency euthanasia.

* Hold the foster home and Rescue harmless if something happens to their dog

* Have a clear end date after which the dog becomes owned by Rescue and may be adopted out

Under these circumstances, I would foster a "foreclosure pet" if the time frame worked for me, and the dog was likely to fit in here. I would also reserve the right to make a call based on my best guesstimate of the potential craziness of the owner. (Not because someone who is losing their house is inherently more likely to be crazy, but because the arrangement means an entanglement with the animal's owner that can become troublesome if the owner is not reasonable and clear-headed.)

Usually I foster the serious rehab cases (or the ones that are supposed to be, but often turn out not so much). We try to keep my place free for those. I would not be willing to put in the time and effort to do serious rehab/retraining and then return the dog to the original owner.

I already know of one breeder who lost her farm, had to sell all her animals, including the dogs.


In the case of a natural disaster or friends facing foreclosure I'd take a dog -- but only if the human family came with it, since 1) I have the room, and 2) I don't have the time or the energy to take care of anyone's animals but my own.

Gina Spadafori

When I was running Sheltie Rescue, we had an older woman who said she could no longer care for her dog. I talked to her about how she could get help, but she was insistent ... the dog had to go.

So, a week or so later, I was able to drive the 90 minutes to accept her dog. Before I could get away, she called repeatedly to tell me she was going to call her county AC to pick up the dog or have a neighbor put him in the AC "night drop" bin. I told her just as repeatedly that I worked for a living, we were all volunteer and she would have to wait until I had time for the three-hour round trip to get her dog.

Got the dog. She signed all the forms we had to turn over ownership to Sheltie rescue.

Three weeks later, I placed the dog with a nice family. A week after that, she called and said she wanted him back. Now, I suppose I could have called the family and said, "please, the original owner changed her mind, can I have the dog back?" but this woman had been so utterly irritating with her demands and so utterly sure she wanted the dog gone that I figured she'd change her mind again.

I told her she had signed over the dog, a new family had him and that was that. She screamed at me and called me every four-letter name in the book. Then she started sobbing. I told her I would talk to the family, and if they agreed, she could have the dog back.

Ahhh, but the family liked the dog and didn't want the kids to cry over losing him. So I call old lady foul mouth and told her, and was threatened with legal action. Told her to go ahead; she'd signed the paperwork.

Two days later I got a call from a TV reporter, who wanted to know why I'd stolen an old lady's cherished pet and refused to give him back. They dropped the pursuit of the story when I explained the situation, said she'd signed over the dog, had the paperwork, etc.

Bottom line: I would NEVER foster without being a volunteer of an established 501(c)3 organization, and not without that organization handling all the paperwork to make it clear to the person what he or she is doing when they give up or have someone foster a pet.

I mean, geez, here I was trying to help people and pets, and spending countless $$ and lots of volunteer time to do so, and I could have ended up on the news as person who stole an old woman's dog. So yeah, the paperwork IS IMPORTANT. But after all the T's have been crossed and the I's dotted, sure I'd foster.


Oy, Gina, what a nightmare situation. Even for an established rescue with all the paperwork, that would be awful.

I cannot foster now, first because I'm maxed out on pets. Second because I have a poor track record of getting foster dogs adopted out.

I'd be reluctant to foster in any situation for a stranger where the animal retained ties to the surrendering owner. A few years ago I did foster a dog and cat for 6 months for a friend of a friend. She reclaimed the dog and gave the cat to me, but that was more or less the plan from the start. That worked out just fine, but I don't think I'd want to engage in such an arrangement with a stranger.

nancy freedman-smith

The rescue I volunteer with gets calls like this all the time, and we post it to our yahoo list and sometimes we make a connection. The dogs are taken by volunteers with knowledge that it is separate from the rescue with the owners acknowledgement that if they cannot find suitable housing to include their dog that they will sign them over. We have done it more for families who needs to travel expectantly for months and can't take the dog due to quarantine laws. One of our volunteers took a dog for no charge for 5 months I think when the family had to go overseas for a parents death. Some stories pull at different hearts in different ways. There was one story I heard that nearly had me take the dog , but when I emailed for more info it turns out that the owner had many other options for herself and dog so i passed. the stories that get me every time are the ones with the devastated kids....make that kid special needs and i am close. BUT I am in no positon to take on another expense my darn self. Many of these people offer to pay, but can't afford the 30 bucks a day a kennel would charge. These situations are far from new and we often see it in divorce cases.

All i can say is that I have read many of these letters over the year and they are heartbreaking.

This is nothing new, but more and more frequent every day. There have also been times that we have given the pet owners resources that they didn't know bout. Shelters that take dogs...or kennels that will take in cases from time to time. And as usuall, nice snark Christie!

nancy freedman-smith

by shelters, I mean human shelters...not animal shelters


Comment by Rachel — August 6, 2008 @ 7:01 pm

So you have some amount of compassion toward .5% of foreclosure victims? So there's hope?!


The Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago just started an emergency foster care program. It lists domestic violence and natural disasters as qualifying reasons (I'm sure there are more). It also appears that participants in the program must be referred by a social service agency. I'm guessing that's to cut down on folks to are just basically irresponsible.



Sure I would, assuming our local bylaws wouldn't present a problem. I'm up to our limit of three dogs now but a temporary arrangement would likely be fine.

I've fostered for people who are undergoing cancer treatments, etc without hesitation.

I do have to be a bit careful about who stays here, since I own Toys who are easily hurt by flying feet or uncoordinated big puppy play.

And if I ended up with another dog, it wouldn't be the first time :>)


I absolutely would consider fostering pets caught in the foreclosure mess. In my mind that would be in the same vein (although not quite as dire) as natural disaster pets or pets of victims of abuse who can't take them into shelters. Like many have said, I would prefer to do this through a rescue or animal welfare organization, since emotions tend to run high in those types of already stressful situations. However, as of right now I'm not in a very good position to do so since I'm in the process of acclimating a cat to my previously only-one-nervous-dog household. My doggy is already pretty stressed. I have fostered in the past and at some point I will do so again, just not right now.

Christine S

There's been a few MSM stories about a seriously overweight cat (just 2 pounds shy of the world record), and it turns out that he was a victim of foreclosure.


Interestingly, he was originally given to friends and then they couldn't keep him, and eventually ended up at a shelter. And then on TV.

As for whether or not I'd take on a foreclosed pet, it'd all depend on the situation. At some point in the future (not feasible atm), I would be interested in fostering through a shelter and that would probably include foreclosure situations.

If a close friend or family member needed to find their pets a temporary home, I might try to find a way to make it work now, but I would get some sort of agreement in writing about what I'm responsible for (and not), due to the concerns that others have presented.


Well, of course I'd *consider* it.

But any animal that comes into our house has to be able to live there - meaning no trying to eat the cat, no serious behavior issues, and probably no jack russels or other high-energy types.

After that, I'd probably be most likely to keep an animal for immediate friends or family, even on an informal basis. Though thankfully it doesn't look like anyone that close to us will be having problems.

I would never foster an animal for a stranger or casual acquaintance without a formal arrangement through a third party.

Fostering through a rescue falls somewhere between the two. Of course, we aren't in contact with anyone now, so it's not particularly likely right this instant, but if we did, I don't see how the reason for surrender would have any bearing whatsoever.


A related story on issuing temporary permits in NC when fostering puts someone over the dog limit law:



I already foster for a cat rescue, cats and kittens from a high-kill shelter, and have fostered dogs in the past. This has all been through rescues where the animals have been signed over to the rescue. As others above noted, I hesitate to take on an animal unless there's a signed contract in place; you never know what problems may be caused by people who are already under stress from foreclosure.


Yes, I would give it a shot! Not sure how my single kitty would handle the situation, but I would surely give it my best! I can only imagine the anguish those families must feel, faced with losing a pet, along with everything else! I donate food to a group that gives food to families that are struggling to keep their pets in these hard times.

Betty Barada

It would have to be temporary - but I am able and would love to help!!


I am fostering currently. The rescue group has been less than communicative. I have had a foster dog for nearly two months now, in addition to my DogDaughter (who started out as a foster and was adopted by me 2 + years ago). It seems that the rescue group is been extremely picky, "flagging" potential adopters if they work a full day or have any other perceived short comings. The rescue group is letting the person who gave up the dog initially (6 months ago) to go through the applications. I do understand their concern for finding a good home, though I do not believe it is appropriate for someone outside of the organization to be going through the information provided on applications. I am also frustrated by the pokiness in finding a forever home for this particular dog. They never call me or give me any information - it was only through my repeated attempts to contact them - by phone and email - that any conversation took place. I would not work with this particular group again.




I would certainly love to do it, and I would do it in a heartbeat if I knew that it wouldn't be permanent. I wouldn't mind rearranging my life and changing my plans for an extended period of time to care for an animal, however the uncertainty of a potential life long committment would probably turn me away. I wouldn't want to have a pet for some time, then find out I'd need to keep it only to move overseas 12 months later, abandoning the poor thing again.


I lost my home yesterday, and my family is not willing to help me. Homeless shelters do not allow dogs. I cannot lose my dog. She means the world to me. She is the only thing I have left in this world. If there was an organization that would help pet-lovers keep their pets, I think it would be great. Pets aren't just animals you can throw away where times get tough. They are a family member and should be treated as such.

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