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Become a foster carer

We are looking for knowledgeable foster carers with prior experience of caring for dogs and cats.

At Mayhew, we work hard to make sure our kennels and cattery are as comfy and homely as possible, but some animals don't cope well in this environment.

Our foster carers provide a temporary home for these animals and give them the special attention that they need. Fostering also allows us to take in more animals in need of our care. Without rescue and rehoming centres like Mayhew, many unwanted animals would be euthanised. Fostering saves lives by freeing up space. It is a rewarding role but it requires time, patience and emotional commitment.

We have three types of animal that might need foster care:

  • Animals looking for a permanent home.
  • Animals undergoing medical treatment and assessments in preparation for their permanent home.
  • Animals on our Pet Refuge programme.

Once you have applied to be a foster carer, we will contact you for an informal chat.

If both parties are happy to continue, we will arrange a virtual home visit. This is to confirm that your home is suitable for animal fostering.

I want to foster a dog

A candidate for dog fostering will:
• Have previously, as an adult, independently owned and trained dogs before.
• Be knowledgeable about dog behaviour, confident with handling dogs of various strengths and sizes and be able to carry out training.
• Have direct access to a private garden.
• Have no other pets in the home.
• Have no children or visiting young children in the home.
• Be able to foster long term (3 months+).
• Be happy and able to give the dog at least one hour off lead (long line) exercise per day.
• Not leave the dog alone for more than a couple of hours.
• Live within an hour from Mayhew. You must be able to travel to our Home for collection and drop off, supply collection and vet visits.
• Keep in contact with the foster care coordinator via phone or email and fill in a weekly feedback form.
• Be comfortable holding video calls with prospective adopters over FaceTime or Zoom.
• Be contactable 7 days a week between the hours of 9am – 5pm
• Be able to meet and introduce the dog to potential adopters at short notice (within 24hrs).

I want to foster a cat

A candidate for cat/kitten fostering will:
• Have some previous experience of cat ownership
• Be knowledgeable about cat/kitten behaviour
• Be patient and confident with handling cats and willing to follow advice to work on the cats specific needs.
• Not leave the foster cat for longer than four hours a day. Foster carers in full time work will be considered for certain cases.
• Live in the following postcodes: HA0, HA1, HA3, HA8, HA9, NW2, NW3, NW4, NW6, NW8, NW9, NW10, NW11, UB1, UB5, UB6, W2, W3, W5, W6, W7, W8, W9, W10, W11, W12, W13, or W14.
• Be able to travel to our Home for cat/kitten collection and drop off, supply collection and vet visits.
• Be comfortable holding video calls with prospective adopters over FaceTime or Zoom.
• Be able to keep in contact with the cat welfare coordinator whilst a foster cat/kitten is in your care by providing updates via phone or email.
• People with pet cats or dogs will only be considered suitable for unaccompanied kittens. Applications will only be accepted if the resident dog is cat friendly/resident cat does not find having a kitten(s) in the home stressful. All pets must be fully up to date with their vaccinations and flea/worm preventatives. Pet cats must not be known flu carriers.
• Be willing to keep a foster cat/kitten entirely indoors. Homes with gardens are accepted but access must be discussed with the Cat Welfare Coordinator in advance.
• Ideally have some experience of medicating cats (this is not compulsory).
• Be emotionally prepared to return the cat/kitten to our Home for rehoming when asked.

We are especially keen to hear from people who are flexible with the type of cat they can foster, and from those who are at home regularly (e.g. part-time workers, home workers, rota workers etc). Flexible working hours will allow you to bring the cat into our Vet Clinic for check-ups.

Kitten fosterers should not leave kittens alone for longer than four hours and must be experienced cat owners. Bottle feeding experience is a bonus but not compulsory.

Fostering an animal that is up for adoption

Animals come to Mayhew for many reasons. They may have been found as a stray, been handed over by their owner or rescued from a welfare situation. Some animals wait for permanent homes for longer than others. We are keen for these animals to be fostered to provide more space at Mayhew for animals in need. Please bear in mind that we cannot predict when the animal will find a home. You may take the animal home on a Monday and have to return it on the Friday. In this case, you will be making two return trips within a matter of days.

Once we have found an animal a permanent home, we arrange a final vet-check before rehoming.

These are usually done on a Tuesday or Thursday afternoon. Foster carers can choose to attend a pre-arranged appointment time or return the animal to Mayhew on the morning of the final vet check. They can also collect the animal after their vet check and return them to Mayhew by 11am on the day of the adoption. Some cats may be able to be collected by their adopter from the foster home. Dogs are usually collected by the new owners from Mayhew on a Saturday.

Fostering an animal on our Pet Refuge programme

Our Pet Refuge programme offers a lifeline for pet owners in crisis by providing temporary care for their animal. This may be due to illness, mental health, domestic violence or other emergencies. These owners have no family or friends to help during their emergency.

Once back on their feet, they will continue to care for the animal.

In these cases we always try and find foster homes so that there is no need for the animal to stay at Mayhew. This scheme offers care for up to three months. After this period, we ask the owner to consider rehoming their animal. To be a Pet Refuge foster carer, you can live outside of the M25. But you must be willing and able to travel to and from Mayhew. Once the owner has confirmed that they are able to have their animal back, we will arrange a time for their return.

 What else do I need to know?

We are unable to cover your travel expenses but we will provide food, bedding, toys and any other equipment needed. As a charity, we also welcome and appreciate any help towards these items. If your foster animal becomes ill, you must bring it back to Mayhew for veterinary treatment. In case of an emergency out of normal Mayhew hours, please contact RSPCA Harmsworth Animal Hospital on 0300 123 0712. Please note Mayhew will not pay for private veterinary fees.

Selecting a foster animal

We work with you to make sure we select the most suitable animal for your circumstances. However we may not always have an animal that is suitable for you. For example, if you are a parent, we may not have a dog that is good with children. In these circumstances, we ask for your patience and will contact you when we have a suitable animal. We know that things may not work out in an animal's foster home.

Fostering an animal is a big committment

Do not underestimate the emotional attachment you will form with your foster cat or dog. At Mayhew, we are looking for foster carers who are dedicated to helping many animals, and not an opportunity to try out an animal before deciding to adopt them. You should keep in mind that as a foster carer you will not be given priority for adoption - if a suitable adopter views the animal in your home before you show your interest, they will have priority.

This might lead to the animal displaying new behaviour in the home environment or the foster carer realising that they cannot cope with that particular animal. On these occasions we will always have the animal back to Mayhew either the same day or the next day, as space allows. One third of foster carers will adopt the animal that they are caring for. Do not underestimate the emotional attachment you will form with an animal. At Mayhew, we are looking for foster carers who are dedicated to helping many animals. It is not an opportunity to try out an animal before deciding to adopt them. You should also note that as a foster carer you are not treated as a priority for permanent ownership. If an adopter views the animal in your home before you show your interest, they have priority. Mayhew must also consider your home to be a suitable permanent home for the animal.