Fostering Rescued Dogs: An Exploratory Study of the Experiences of Foster Care Providers

Tamara A. Daily

University of Mount Union

Animals in the care of shelters and rescues frequently have health and behavioral challenges that must be addressed before they can be adopted. Volunteer foster providers perform an important service by bringing vulnerable animals into their homes to address their needs therefore making them better prepared for successful adoption. Despite their critical role in animal rescue, the experiences of volunteer foster providers have not been examined systematically. Given the difficulty recruiting and retaining these volunteers and the potential for them to experience negative outcomes such as compassion fatigue and secondary traumatic stress caused by performing care work with rescued animals, such research is necessary. Current and former foster providers (N = 85) completed an online survey of their perceptions of the positives and negatives of the experience and measures of psychological outcomes of care work. The findings show that fostering rescued dogs comes with a mix of positive and negative experiences. Further, the findings suggest the importance for rescues of being aware of the risk factors associated with compassion fatigue and protective factors predicting compassion satisfaction.

Keywords: pet adoption, pet rescue, human-animal interaction, dog rescue

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Keywords: dog rescue, human-animal interaction, pet adoption, pet rescue
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