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  • Become a foster carer

    Could you foster a cat or a dog? Mayhew are looking for volunteers who are able to provide a temporary home to our rescued animals.

    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. We are always in need of new foster carers. 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.
    To be a Mayhew foster carer:
    • You must live within a one hour drive of Mayhew.
    • You will need to travel to and from Mayhew to collect and bring back the animal when needed.
    • You will need to be comfortable with adopters visiting your home.
    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 home visit. This is to confirm that your home is suitable for animal fostering.

    I want to foster a dog

    An ideal candidate for dog fostering will:
    • have previous experience of dog ownership and confidence with handling dogs.
    • be able to foster long term (three 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 four hours.
    • live within an hour’s drive of Mayhew. You will be required to drive to the home for dog collection and drop off, supply collection and vet visits.
    • may have other pets, but they must be neutered or spay. If you have a dog, they will need to come with you to Mayhew to meet any foster dog you may be taking.
    • Keep in contact with the foster coordinator via phone or email and fill in a weekly feedback form.

    Once the dog is ready for adoption, you will need to be contactable by phone for viewings. This will be:
    Monday to Friday from 12pm to 3pm
    Saturday from 1pm to 3.30pm
    Sunday from 1pm to 2pm

    You can get in touch with our Dog Fostering Coordinator via email or phone on 07951 652 822.

    I want to foster a cat

    An ideal candidate for cat fostering will:
    • 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. You must be able to travel to the home for cat collection and drop off, supply collection and vet visits. Applicants who live further away must drive to reduce travel time for the animal.
    • have some previous experience of cat ownership and be confident handling cats.
    • keep in contact whilst a foster cat is in your care and provide updates via email, text or phone.
    • not have any pets of your own.
    • be willing to keep a foster cat indoors.
    • have some experience of medicating cats (this is not compulsory).
    • be emotionally able to return the cat to the centre for rehoming when asked.

    We are currently only accepting foster carers for nursing mums and kittens in preparation for next kitten season. Kitten fosterers must not leave the kittens alone for longer than 4 hours and must be experienced cat owners. Bottle feeding experience is a bonus.

    You must have flexible working hours as most cats will need to attend a vet re-check during the week. You can get in touch with our Cat Fostering Coordinator via email or phone on 020 8962 8000.

    Apply to be a foster carer

    If you would like to apply to be a foster carer, please fill out our application form.

    Apply here

    Any questions?

    If you have any questions about becoming a foster carer or would like any more information, please get in touch with us.

    Contact us

    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 Putney Animal Hospital on 0870 908 5376. Please note Mayhew will not pay for private veterinary fees.

    Selecting a foster animal and falling in (or out) of love

    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.

    Sometimes we receive inaccurate information from the previous owner.

    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.