Animal lovers out there have probably wondered at some point or another if animals are allowed while fostering. It’s going to vary slightly from county to county, but generally speaking, it’s okay to keep pets while doing foster care. Some agencies will require indoor pets documented and a record of up-to-date vaccinations. Other agencies will have a limit on the amount of animals you can have and may even nix certain breeds. You also have to keep in mind that your county has laws about how many pets are allowed in a residence, and if you have a lot of pets and aren’t up to local ordinances, you might not be aware of those limitations until you start your homestudy.
With most people, pets in the house aren’t going to be an issue or hold them back from getting licensed. However, I have encountered a few people who ran into problems. One woman I knew ran an exotic animal sanctuary out of her home. There can be certain policies restricting exotic animals (such as wolves, parrots, and spiders) in foster homes. She was in the process of completing her homestudy and was told that the exotic animals were a no go. Since she considered her pets to be part of the family, she struggled with whether or not to continue the process of becoming a foster parent.
I also got sucked into a story on a fostering forum where a lady had a pitbull that passed the homestudy but was deemed aggressive later on when it snarled at a caseworker approaching the house. She was given the ultimatum of getting rid of the dog or losing her license. She also faced a very tough decision of whether or not the dog was important enough to throw in the towel on being licensed through that agency.
Personally, and maybe I’m a bit of a Grinch, there’s no contest between a child and an animal. In my opinion, if you discover a child in your care is allergic, the animal goes, not the child. If the animal snaps at a child, it doesn’t get a second chance or an excuse of why this was a one time thing. It goes. If your license is at risk, the animal goes. In a heartbeat.
Despite my hardened heart, I actually do enjoy pets. I was sad when we thought we had lost our kitten last month, but I wasn’t distraught. I’ll never understand the attachment to your Chihuahua that makes you view that rat impostor through toddler-colored glasses. I understand that sometimes our children seem like little, feral animals when they reach for chewed gum on the sidewalk or revel in their own farts, but they’re people. And animals are animals.
I guess this is why I’m so much happier with farm animals. They live outside and do their own thing. Our furniture isn’t at risk of becoming horribly scratched or hairy, and we can control how much interaction we want with them. If I have a kid that’s afraid of our goats, it’s fine. They’re penned and that child’s interaction with them is on his terms; the goat isn’t going to accost him every time he walks in the front door.
I also think that farm animals are a little easier in the licensing process since they’re outdoor animals. Here are some of our animals:
This is the cat that my son named Parizona. He was a stray kitten that found us and hasn’t left since. So far, he’s an outdoor cat and has been an awesome hunter.
This goat in particular drives me absolutely crazy. She’s a small breed, a Nigerian Dwarf, but she discovered a hidden talent for jumping and is constantly jumping over the fence. I’ll frequently find her lounging on our picnic table in a smug repose. She’s just old enough to breed, and once she’s bred, the plan is to milk her and make ourselves some totally awesome goat cheese. Most rules I’ve heard about farm dairy products is that it has to be pasteurized, sometimes professionally, for foster children to consume.
I also have a few laying ducks (and a couple drakes that will eventually become dinner as soon as I can gird up my loins to make that happen). Hunters out there are usually safe when it comes to serving game, be it duck, venison, or otherwise. In my quest to become more self-sufficient, I would like to raise meat rabbits eventually. All these things are likely above board for most agencies. Most of the time, you’ll get the advice that foster kids should be raised like your own kids, and that includes diet and lifestyle.
One last thing to mention is that serving home canned foods can be touch and go. There’s a safety risk with home canned items, so those might not be allowed. If canned goods get a thumbs down, you’d be better off blanching and freezing vegetables and freezing meats. Overall, you should be able to enjoy your regular lifestyle while fostering but some adjustments might be necessary, and it’s important to be flexible.