"Fostering has worked out very well for us! Ferrets are wonderfully playful, affectionate, and loving animals that simply need a good home for their exuberant personalities to blossom! We're grateful for the privilege of being delighted by them every single day and grateful to the shelter for helping us keep them healthy!"|
John & Michele
Visit our Happy Tails! page for more happy endings like this.
Foster parents are a special kind of volunteer. They open their homes and their hearts to a shelter ferret (or two, or more) without really knowing if that ferret will someday find a 4ever home, or remain with them for most or all of its life. It's a risk that foster parents are willing to take, because they know they are doing tremendous good for the shelter kids.
Perhaps a ferret has behavioral problems due to previous abuse or neglect, improper socialization or poor breeding. An experienced foster parent can work closely with that ferret to reverse negative behaviors, and help turn a troubled little spirit into a trusting, affectionate pet ready for adoption into a permanent home.
Sometimes the ferret has been rescued from an abusive situation, or needs hospice care. They need round-the-clock care which just can't happen in a shelter, boarding facility or even in a veterinary clinic.
Taking in a foster ferret may mean giving it one last chance to feel safe, secure and loved. But always, fostering truly is a situation where everybody wins.
Some reasons why people choose to foster instead of adopt are:
- they want to fully understand and explore ferret ownership before committing to an adoption;
- they want to give a troubled ferret a healthy, loving home environment, and work on rehabilitation to improve its chances of permanent adoption;
- the ferret needs ongoing medical care or has a chronic illness, and fostering enables the shelter to oversee the ferret's veterinary care and provide required medications;
- the ferret is elderly, has a terminal illness or behavioral issues, or has recently been rescued and needs high-level care by a volunteer with the requisite skills and experience.
Here is a story from a foster parent, Kevin, about how three kids captured his heart - but ended up giving back so much more:
"In my house, we have come to a compromise. Many compromises, in fact, but this one says no more than three ferrets. I love our three ferrets - Bandit, Lilo, and Stitch. Lilo and Stitch were adopted from WFRS, but that's a story for another day.
"I'd been volunteering at the shelter ... and enjoying it immensely. I figure if I couldn't take all the ferrets home with me, at least I could care for them and play with them! As Christmas came closer, the idea of the ferrets spending the holidays alone in the shelter was getting to me. So, as a special treat, we decided as a family to bring a group of ferrets home for the holidays. We knew that we couldn't keep them long-term, but at least we could give them a good holiday.
"(There was) a group of three older ferrets that were having a very hard time adjusting after being surrendered. (It is not uncommon for older ferrets to go into "shelter shock" when they lose their humans.)
"So we took in Laura, Sammy and Wilma (who turned out to be a Will!). The three were quite depressed, and ate up the attention we gave them, but it wasn't enough. They weren't eating well, and stomach problems soon followed. I learned a great deal about caring for sick ferrets.
"Laura, in particular was a big concern. At 1 1/2 pounds, she just didn't have any reserves to draw on. I ended up feeding them a "duck soup" mixture of baby food, kibble and broth blended to a milkshake consistency. They were also on a couple of other medicines to calm their tummies. Let me tell you, ferrets do NOT like Pepto Bismol!! It's a good thing that I look good covered in pink splatters!
"This was a very intense time, but the rewards as they started coming around were enormous! It was so great to see them get to feeling better. I danced around the house when they each started eating on their own! The next stage was getting to see their personalities come out when they felt good enough to start playing! Laura adopted a little plush toy and dragged it all over with her. Will would play rough like a big tough guy, and then curl up on my chest to sleep, melting my heart. Sammy just wanted to cuddle with everyone.
"Finally, it was time to give them back. That was also very hard, but made much easier knowing that they were all healthy, and were going to another volunteer's house.
"The best part of all was finding that they all have forever-homes with loving parents now. I feel very happy and proud knowing that they are still around partly because of me. I still keep pictures of my "foster kids", and I'd do it again in a heartbeat."
The Washington Ferret Rescue & Shelter has a network of more than 20 active foster homes throughout the Puget Sound region. We are so very, very grateful to these incredible volunteers and thank them for their commitment to helping ferrets.
If you think fostering might be a good option for you, please contact us by phone or email, or stop by the shelter during our public hours each Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. We'd love to introduce you to our ferrets and talk with you about our foster program.
Click here for Google Maps' directions to the shelter.
You can also take a look at these forms for some more information about fostering for WFRS:
Foster application (PDF)
Foster caregiving information (PDF)
Foster contract (PDF)
Foster agreement and understanding (PDF)