Pets in the foster home
by John Role’ – Senior Social Worker & IFCO Board Member, Malta
One fascinating aspect of foster care that is not very much spoken about, but very useful to be aware of, is pets in the foster home. I came across a number of foster families who had pets before fostering or brought a pet in their family once they started fostering.
From discussions I used to have with young people, children, and foster carers, many seemed to make a significant link between the pets and themselves. Especially if the pet was a rescue dog. When I look back at the individuals I spoke with, this makes a lot of sense. Rescue dogs suffer a lot before they find their new home. The would-be abused, abandoned, and very severely neglected. They would have been caught and put into a kennel to be kept safe. Very similar to the stories of children who come into care, unfortunately. They would suffer abuse at their birth family and moved to a children’s home or, in some countries, large institutions. They also would have followed the same path before finding the right family to settle down. I also found similarities when listening to these stories because abused dogs also took time to trust their new master. Similar is the child who suffers abuse and neglect. The abuse and neglect leave a significant impact on the child’s physical and psychological aspect and needs a lot of time to heal.
Children and young people who had pets stated that they found comfort and support in the animals they fostered or adopted.
Children and young people who had pets stated that they found comfort and support in the animals they fostered or adopted. It’s not the first time a dog would see a child who is feeling sad that will snuggle up to that minor to be near him or her. The dog seems to sense that the child is passing a bad patch in his or her life.
What is your experience with pets at your foster home? What stories can you share with us?
IFCO is running member discussion groups for youth, foster and kinship carers, social workers and professionals. The topic for February and March is the importance of pets.
Register via this link to join the Foster and Kinship Carer’s Discussion Group on Thursday, March 18th at 9am (GMT, London, UK time) / 8pm (Syndey, Australia time)
Register via this link to join the Social Workers and Professional’s Discussion Group on Thursday, March 25th at 9am (GMT, London, UK time) / 8pm (Syndey, Australia time)