How to become a foster parent for animals with medical needs in Knox County

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)- Roughly more than 1,000 animals a year need a foster home while under the care of Young-Williams Animal Center.

Good Sam Dog, the canine Knoxville police found thrown over an Alcoa Highway overpass, was one of those animals needing a medical foster home, because she was recovering after surgery.

Maggie Loveday, assistant placement coordinator at Young-Williams, said that they fostered out 2,028 animals in 2019.

About 70% of those animals needed some type of medical attention, specifically neo-natal kittens.

“Kittens from zero to eight weeks, we sent out 1,403. That’s a lot of kittens. A lot of our kittens are neo-nates, we consider as medical because they’re very hands-on, they’re pretty intensive. So anything that’s under four weeks old, you have to give ’round-the-clock care to,” Loveday said.

She said that the level of experience for medical fosters are a case-by-case scenario.

If the animal has intense medical needs, then the shelter likes a foster who has dealt with animals needing medical care in the past, or someone who has fostered for Young-Williams many times before and can handle the extra work.

She said that animals with intense medical needs could range from simply being able to watch the animal all day, to an animal that needs to be given fluids intravenously.

They do have lesser medical cases every so often.

“Something as simple as an upper respiratory infection in a cat or kitten, so that’s just an oral medication for a few days kind of thing. You don’t have to be home for very long. We just need someone to essentially have a cat coach-surf for a while, while they’re healing,” Loveday said.

Some lesser cases could also include dogs who simply can’t go for long walks or hikes and would need help defecating.

She said that the type of medical needs range from bottle-feeding, to bandage cleaning, to giving the animals medicine.

Loveday also said that medical fostering requires a lot of feces inspections, so you would want to be comfortable handling that.

Ultimately, anyone could be a foster or a medical foster, according to Loveday.

She also said all you need is love!

She said that Young-Williams foster families can choose which animal they would like to foster, as long as the shelter confirmed the animal would do well in that home.

“We will always train you to do something more intensive,” Loveday said.

Some medical foster animals require longer stays. Loveday said that if a foster home planned on going on vacation for a few weeks while they are fostering, the shelter will help find another temporary home.

She said that foster homes with children can be a great for the animals so they learn to interact with smaller people.

Homes with family pets might have a harder time to foster, but Loveday said there are cases where other animals in the home could be good for the foster animal.

She said the shelter will be hosting workshops for certain aspects of fostering in the near future.

Yo apply to be a foster, you can click here.

Loveday said they try to always provide anything the foster family needs to take care of the foster animal, including payment for medications, kennels and food.

If you can’t foster but want to help, you can always donate.

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