Image: Courtesy of New Rattitude, Inc. Rat Terrier Rescue100% of your donation goes towards the rescue & medical care of needy dogs.
Image: Courtesy of New Rattitude, Inc. Rat Terrier Rescue

Frequently Asked Questions
about Fostering with New Rattitude


Image: Courtesy of New Rattitude, Inc. Rat Terrier Rescue

Q: What are the responsibilities of a foster parent?
Answer: Besides offering a rescued dog a safe and supportive sanctuary while we seek a qualified adoptive home, the foster parent tends to the dog's medical, social, and behavioral needs. Specifically, the foster parent:
      1. Helps transport the dog to get it into fostercare.
      2. Commits to safely and responsibly care for the dog until he or she is adopted.
      3. Promptly takes the dog to a vet for an exam and any medical needs. (Vetting expenses are reimbursed by the organization.)
      4. Assists with record-keeping for the dog.
      5. Handles day-to-day care of the dog, including feeding a proper quantity of good quality dog food*, administering heartworm preventative* each and every month, administering flea preventative* during "flea season," keeping the dog clean and in good physical condition, and ensuring the dog's safety at all times.     *reimbursable
      6. Provides basic socialization and training, according to the dog's needs, to help the dog become a highly desirable, adoptable pet.
      7. Submits a profile (descriptive bio and photos) for listing on our websites, and periodically updates the profile.
      8. Assists the Adoption Department in the adoption process by quickly responding to correspondence about the dog, providing feedback about potential adopters, and helping get the dog to its new home upon adoption.
      9. Participates regularly in our New Rattitude volunteer network (Yahoo group).

Q. What's the difference between fostering and dog-sitting?
Answer: Both foster parents and dog-sitters go through our screening and approval process. But dog-sitters provide only very short-term housing, including nothing more than basic physical care and safety, whereas foster parents' responsibility also covers vetting, training/socializing, help with marketing/publicity for the dog, and basic administration. A dog-sitting commitment is always very temporary, but a foster parent may choose a temporary placement or a regular commitment, which lasts from intake through adoption. Foster homes may be located anywhere in the country, but dog-sitting homes generally need to be located in driving proximity to New Rattitude foster homes so that it is practical for them to provide a place where a New Rattitude dog can be safely "parked" for a few days -- either while transportation is being arranged or during short periods that the foster parents must be out of town and cannot take the dog along. Foster parents go through foster parent training (via telephone) to learn all about our procedures, policies, and processes; dog-sitters do not. CLICK HERE for a more detailed comparison of fostering versus dog-sitting.

Q. What does screening involve?
Answer: Screening for foster homes and dogsitting homes involves and application, vet and personal reference checks, a telephone interview, and a home visit to ensure that the physical environment is safe and suitable for rescued dogs.

Q. What does foster parent training involve?
Answer: Foster parent training is done by telephone with simultaneous Internet access to walk through the various tools, resources, and admin sites. The applicant also receives a "How To" document to accompany the training and serve as future reference. The training generally takes about an hour and is done on a day/time convenient for the applicant.

Q. Can foster dogs be kept in a secure outdoor climate-controlled kennel?
Answer: An outdoor kennel may be used for limited daytime hours or a temporary emergency situation, but an outdoor-only set up will not be approved for a foster home. Part of our role as foster parents is to help socialize and train the dogs as good household pets. That requires that they develop good indoor "manners," housetraining skills, and compatible relations with humans and other pets, and that won't be achieved if the dog is not kept in the home as one of the "family."

Q: Can I become a foster home if I live in an apartment? Or don't have a fenced yard?
Answer: If you can show realistic expectations and understanding of a dog's needs and potential behavior "issues," and have a plan for how you'll deal with such eventualities, then you can still be approved as a foster home. Have you considered issues such as how a high energy dog would get adequate outdoor exercise, what the "potty" schedule would be, and how you would deal with a dog that turned out to be a loud barker? You will also need approval from your apartment manager.

Q: What types of things would disqualify me as a foster home?
Answer: You must be at least 21 years old to become a New Rattitude foster home because foster parents must be able to enter a legally-binding contract to agree to care responsibly for our dogs. Other criteria are less black and white, because a lot depends on your individual circumstances. But these are some of the things that would wave red flags in our foster home approval process:
      * planning to move or have major home renovation within the next 6-12 months
      * will be changing jobs or starting school within the next 6-12 months
      * have a heavy travel schedule
      * pregnant or have new baby
      * have a newly-adopted pet (within the past 3-6 months)
If any of these things apply to you, please think hard before applying to foster. In many cases, you may be better off waiting until your household situation is more stable before taking on this new commitment.

Q: How do I get a foster dog?
Answer: Your State Coordinator will let you know when there is a Rat Terrier in your area needing to be rescued and will tell you as much as we know about the dog. It will be totally your decision as to whether you want to commit to fostering this dog. If so, then your State Coordinator will help with arrangements for you to get the dog. If the dog is located near you (within an hour or so drive), you may be asked to go pick it up. If the dog is further away, your State Coordinator or a Transport Coordinator will work on plans to get the dog to you, and you may be asked to drive the last "leg" of the transport.

Q: Will I get to meet the dog before deciding to foster it?
Answer: If the dog needing rescue is located in a shelter near you or is being owner surrendered locally, you may certainly go evaluate the dog before deciding. But in many cases the dog may be too far away or the situation is too urgent for that to be practical, and the decision will have to be made on the basis of the description given to us by shelter workers, other rescue volunteers, or the surrendering owner. Sometimes there may be more than one dog in need at a time, and in that case, you may indicate which one you prefer. It is always important that you be fully in agreement before committing to a particular new dog.

Q: What if I get a dog with behavioral problems?
Answer: Many dogs will come to foster care with some sort of behavioral issue, large or small. Fortunately, most behavioral problems will be minor and fixable, but there are some whose issues turn out to be more substantial. Whether it's chewing, barking, marking, growling, digging, "counter surfing," snake-chasing, door dashing, or something more significant, it's important to recognize that few dogs come to rescue 100% perfect, and you will need to be realistic about the possibility of having to deal with such things. You can start reading books and Internet sites on positive obedience training and looking for ways to dog-proof your home or otherwise prepare yourself for the challenges that may come with fostering. Our New Rattitude volunteer network is always ready to support each other with advice, suggestions, and encouragement. We have a Behavior Modification Team, composed of experienced dog trainers, that can be consulted to evaluate problems and develop customized treatment/training programs, giving the foster parent the know-how to properly deal with tough issues. And we also have a program to reimburse foster parents for relevant training courses. It can be extremely gratifying to take a less-than-perfect dog and help him develop to his full potential!
      For more serious behavioral problems (which, thankfully, are rare since we try to evaluate a dog's temperament before agreeing to "pull" it), we have a program for professional behaviorist consultations and evaluations. If even that is not enough, your State Coordinator can try to help get the dog moved to a different foster home if there is one with an opening. Keep in mind, though, that the only holding space we have is with other volunteer foster parents, and most of them are not eager to take in a new dog with known problems. So it's best to be prepared and to understand the commitment. If the thought of having a dog that requires much dedicated attention and training is a significant concern of yours, then perhaps fostering isn't for you.

Q: What kind of discipline would I use if a foster dog misbehaved?
Answer: New Rattitude is a firm advocate of using positive discipline only. We do not permit aversive (forceful, painful) punishment for any of our dogs. Aversive techniques using force and/or fear are much more likely to confuse and overwhelm the dog, increasing his fear and reactivity, than they are to help solve the problem. Plus aversive correction inhibits a good, trusting relationship between the dog and his foster parent. And sometimes it can cause serious permanent injury! The types of aversive correction that are not permitted with New Rattitude dogs include spanking/hitting/whipping, "alpha rolls," dominance ear bites, neck jabs or jerks, scruff shaking, leash hanging, kneeing the chest or stepping on toes, rubbing the nose in excrement, using choke collars or pinch/prong collars, or intentional menacing. In contrast, a positive approach to discipline includes constructive techniques such as removal, time outs, taking something of value away, ignoring behavior, interrupting negative behavior with a vocal interrupter, and -- above all -- proactive training and trust building. We encourage anyone interested in fostering (or adopting) to learn more about positive training on sites such as positively.com, humanesociety.org, and heathypets.mercola.com.

Q: What if I start fostering but then can't continue?
Answer: Because it's not easy (and sometimes not even possible) to move a dog from one foster home to another, it's important that you not agree to foster a dog unless you are able to make a commitment to that dog for however long it takes. If your situation changes unexpectedly and you can't continue fostering, we will certainly try to move your current dog, but there's no assurance we'll be able to accomplish that in a timely manner so you would likely need to figure out a way to stick it out until that dog is adopted. After that, we would try to find other ways for you to remain involved and help our rescue effort, other than fostering.

Q: How long does it take a dog to get adopted?
Answer: A dog must be in fostercare for a minimum of two weeks so that we can evaluate its health and disposition before allowing it to be adopted. After that, it largely depends on the dog and the foster parent. It's common for healthy dogs with few behavioral problems to be adopted very quickly, especially if the foster parent is diligent about helping us to "market" the dog by taking good photos, submitting a clever and detailed profile for the website, blogging about the dog, etc. Over half of our dogs are adopted within two months, and the great majority are adopted within 6 months. If a dog has significant "issues" &/or the foster parent is not proactive about helping to promote the dog, it can take longer. But even senior dogs and ones with special needs (such as blindness) are often adopted in just a few months if the foster family parent assists the process. These are our averages:
    22% of New Rattitude dogs are adopted within 1 month.
    52% of New Rattitude dogs are adopted within 2 months.
    70% of New Rattitude dogs are adopted within 3 months.
    80% of New Rattitude dogs are adopted within 4 months.
    88% of New Rattitude dogs are adopted within 6 months.
    96% of New Rattitude dogs are adopted within 10 months.

Q: What if my foster dog doesn't get along with my cats?
Answer: A good number of rescued Rat Terriers will not get along with cats. So if you have cats, it's your responsibility to figure out a plan to be able to reliably separate them. If that's not feasible, it will be essential for you to only agree to take in dogs that are known to be trustworthy with cats.

Q: What if I must go out of town on a trip?
Answer: As the foster parent, it will be your responsibility to make arrangements for this eventuality. There might be another New Rattitude foster home or dogsitting home nearby that can keep the dog while you are away. Some foster parents have trade-off arrangements with dog-loving friends or relatives or other nearby foster homes. Others take their fosters on vacation with them or leave the dogs with a house-sitter. If a foster parent must board the dog(s),New Rattitude will reimburse boarding expense up to an annual maximum per foster home.

Q. How many foster dogs may I have at a time?
Answer: New foster parents are limited to one foster dog. Once that first foster dog has been adopted, the foster home may have up to four foster dogs at a time.

Q: Will New Rattitude pay for all of a dog's medical expenses?
Answer: We will indeed cover all essential medical care, and won't ever deny a New Rattitude foster dog needed treatment if a good outcome is probable. However, as a non-profit charity we have a limited budget, and spending a huge amount on one dog could mean not being able to save several others. So it is essential that we practice careful money management. Our foster parents are given a chart of maximum reimbursable limits for standard procedures, and are asked to be diligent in finding vetting options within those ranges. The core medical services that we provide for every dog include: exam, spay/neuter, vaccinations, heartworm test, worming, monthly heartworm preventative, flea preventative, and microchip insertion. Other out-of-the-ordinary medical needs will also be covered but non-emergency procedures must be pre-approved.

Q: How does New Rattitude support the foster homes in the network?
Answer: New Rattitude maintains the websites and the Internet presence to locate and prioritize dogs needing rescue, and arranges for them to be brought in to the program. For each new dog, we provide a microchip, ID tag, martingale collar and leash, de-wormer, flea preventative (upon request), toy, and "going home" bag. We also reimburse for heartworm preventative and dog food (subject to our cost guidelines). We offer a puppy stipend to apply to the extra out-of-pocket expenses of raising a litter of puppies. We provide training, support, and assistance for the members of the foster home network, and maintain a toll-free Lost Dog Hotline. Our volunteers manage the websites, market the dogs, handle the adoption application process, arrange for a dog's transportation to its adoptive home, and provide follow-up advice to the adoptive family. CLICK HERE for more details on the support New Rattitude provides each foster home.

Q: What expenses does the foster family have to cover?
Answer: Foster families should have the following for their foster dog(s): food and water bowls, training treats, toys, and chewies. We can share tips on how to acquire most of these items very cheaply or at no cost. Some other non-essentials are usually also helpful: crate, X-pen, baby gates, car harness or tether, dog bed, grooming supplies (shampoo, nail clippers), and potty supplies (pooper scooper, enzyme accident cleaner, etc.). Because New Rattitude is a 501(c)3 non-profit charity, any non-reimbursed expenses incurred by our foster homes to care for their foster dogs are tax deductible as donations to New Rattitude.

Q: If a foster dog destroys something of mine, will I be reimbursed?
Answer: Sorry, no. Our budget doesn't cover loss of property. We recommend that you keep a close monitoring eye on each new dog until you're assured of his trustworthiness.

Q: If I really fall for my own foster dog, will I be able to adopt him?
Answer: To help ensure that new foster homes are joining our fostercare program for the right reasons, and to help protect the stability of our program, New Rattitude has a firm policy against NEW foster parents adopting New Rattitude dogs. We want to ensure that new volunteers become foster parents with the goal of helping to save multiple dogs, rather than adopting just one. Giving up a loved foster dog upon its adoption is usually the hardest part of fostering, but being able to do so is the only way a fostercare program can work. Anyone thinking about permanently adding a dog to their household should pursue adoption (and let us help find a great match) rather than fostering. Foster parents who have successfully taken at least one foster dog all the way "through the system" (meaning from intake through adoption) will then be eligible to adopt a future New Rattitude dog.

Q: May I independently find someone to adopt my foster dog?
Answer: Sure! But the prospective adopter still must go through our New Rattitude adoption process. We are legally responsible for each dog brought into our organization, and have an obligation to follow proper procedures to ensure that the dog will be going to the right home. If you have a relative, friend, or neighbor that is interested in your foster dog, have them fill out an adoption application and list you as one of their references.

Q: Do I have a say-so in the adoption process?
Answer: Absolutely! The foster parent communicates with the applicants to provide a very detailed description of the dog, answer questions, and perhaps even arrange for the applicant to meet the dog. While the Adoption Team concentrates on whether this applicant would provide a suitable "Furever Home" for a rescue dog in general, the foster parent focuses on whether this applicant would be a good match for this particular dog. The foster parent then provides feedback to the Adoption Manager, who makes the final approval decision.

Q: How long does it take to get approved as a foster home?
Answer: It will probably take us a few days to reach your references and then call you for a telephone interview. We then recruit a home visit volunteer, who will contact you to schedule a time to come inspect your property. After that, it should be just a short time before you hear if you're approved to be a New Rattitude foster home.

Click here for a membership application to become a Foster Home or Dogsitting Home.