Thank you Austin for stepping up to care for shelter pets in need. We never thought we’d see the day that Town Lake Animal Center was more empty than full, but here we are. If anything, we hope this shows that we truly could not do what we do without you.
As we continue to navigate what our “new normal” is during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become clear that our foster processes will continue to evolve based on what’s working, what’s not working, and the day-to-day updates from the CDC.
First, from everyone at APA!, THANK YOU. To those who are fostering and to those who have submitted an application to foster, we are so appreciative and thankful for your compassion for these animals. Because of the overwhelming support we have received, paired with the limited number of staff working through these applications, we want to make everyone aware of how our foster process is currently operating. We understand that this has not been an easy time for anyone, but we hope that the below Q&A will add some clarity to these exciting changes and provide insight into how we continue to innovate lifesaving processes
About how long can people expect to wait between submitting an application to foster and being contacted by someone from the foster team?
- Dog Foster Team (DF): Just a few days – our foster application processing has been pretty quick.
- Cat Foster Team (CF): An applicant should expect a cat foster screener’s call within 0-3 days after submitting their application for both cats and neonatal kittens. If they miss the initial call from the screener, it will be another couple days before they are contacted again. Once they are approved as a cat program foster, they are added to our Google Group and can instantly start seeing the foster pleas to pick a kitty!
- Neonatal “Bottle Babies” Foster Team (BB): If a cat foster applicant wants to join the neonatal team, they’ll hear next steps after approval in order to be trained to feed and care for bottle babies.
How long does it take to be onboarded and trained to care for neonatal kittens?
- BB: It could be a few days to a couple weeks. We’re working through a backlog right now in order to train everyone as quickly as we can in a new, virtual way that is still just as effective and thorough as our traditional in-person training. With kitten season underway, we promise that you are needed and will be trained as quickly as possible!
Does everyone who applies to foster a dog need to fill out the Matchmaking form in order to get a foster dog during this time?
- DF: Yes. All dog foster applicants are required to fill out the matchmaker form at this time.
How long on average can people expect to wait between filling that form out and hearing back about getting their foster dog?
- DF: Several days to several weeks, as we are prioritizing what we call “unicorn homes,” or: homes that don’t have kids or pets, that are first-floor apartments that open directly outside or homes with a yard. We ask anyone who may not fit that mold to please be flexible with us and the options we provide. We’d love for you to have a foster dog, so please work with us on just who that pup is for you!
What is the Dog ‘n’ Dash project?
-DF: In an effort to minimize person-to-person contact, we are initiating a Dog ‘n’ Dash pick up system. This new system will allow for APA! to place dogs with fosters while also prioritizing the health of our fosters, staff, and volunteers. Our staff will be reaching out to fosters that have submitted the COVID-19 Preparedness: Dog Foster Program Matchmaking Form in groups and will assign them a foster pick-up time. Fosters will then be matched with a dog once they are onsite in their car and will be able to leave with a new foster dog almost immediately! We are hoping that this new process will allow for quicker matches between fosters and dogs in need! For this process to be as efficient and safe as possible, we are not able to facilitate introductions between fosters and the dog with whom they have been matched prior to the foster taking their dog home.
How's the Dog ‘n’ Dash project going?
- DF: Excellent; about 10-12 dogs a day. Note that to yield these 10-12 dogs, we reached out to 30 people, so the people who don't show up aren't getting contacted again unless they have an explanation for why they didn't come. Unfortunately, they missed their shot. We can't afford to go round and round with people.
I’ve never fostered a cat before – are there cats that would be good for new fosters?
- CF: Yes, of course! We do currently have more of a demand for foster kitties than available kitties at the moment, though, so please be patient with us as we pair you with a foster cat. We are about to get deep into kitten season, though, so if you’ve ever thought about fostering neonatal kittens or a pregnant momma, be sure to sign up for that training!