Dogs and cats who need to be the only pet in the home can be difficult to find placement for in adoptive and foster homes. This can result in longer shelter stays while a home is sought that fits their needs. While finding home-based placement more quickly for these pets is a common conundrum among shelters and rescue organizations, one organization is finding success through an innovative foster program.
Frosted Faces Foundation’s (FFF) Molly & Me Project was created in order to help senior dogs who are poorly socialized with other animals, but who likely have been loyal companions to humans in the past. The project provides a monthly stipend to those who foster these dogs, to help offset the cost of their care and provide an incentive for fostering them.
“The Molly & Me Project fosters we have recruited thus far have been nothing short of incredible!” says Kelly Smíšek, cofounder of Frosted Faces Foundation. “The Frosted Face sleeps in bed with them, I have seen them in Big Bear, at cabins over Christmas on ski vacations, and on stand-up paddleboards in the ocean.”
How does it work? Here are five major components:
The stipend’s details are written into their foster contract. Foster caregivers for dogs in the Molly & Me Project receive a $200 stipend each month for a period of up to one year. (Supplies like food, toys, etc. are still provided.) The contract outlines the foster’s responsibilities and steps to be taken if the foster fails to comply with the terms. At the end of each year they participate, they are issued a W-2 Form for tax purposes.
Fosters are given the training and support they need. “I am willing to admit that many of our Molly & Me Project fosters are not expert dog handlers,” says Smíšek. “We invest a sound amount of time with them on how to keep a short leash in public and offer ideas of how to avoid tricky scenarios. I was once a novice leash handler too, and only experience has taught me how to avoid and even prevent situations of negligence or risk. And even better, be an advocate for the unsocialized dogs.”
The program’s requirements are simple. The foster dog must be included as a family dog and have an enriching life. Foster caregivers must have no other animals in the home and must submit high-quality, weekly photos of their foster in a home environment or doing activities. The foster caregiver must also demonstrate the ability to avoid putting the dog or other animals at risk.
The foster can spend the stipend the way they want to. “This money can be used for whatever the foster chooses, even insurance to cover the breed if needed,” says Smíšek. “There is no doubt that these families are buying treats, toys, and outfits for their Frosted Faces too! They quickly become family.”
Foster caregivers have options. If their foster dog is not adopted by the time the 12-month term ends, caregivers have several options:
- Continue fostering the dog, looking for an adopter without receiving a stipend
- Return the dog to FFF to be kenneled and stop fostering
- Return the dog to FFF and foster a different Molly & Me Project dog, signing a new contract and accepting the $200/month stipend
- Adopt the dog (FFF will continue covering their medical expenses as they do for all adoptees, as an incentive for choosing a senior from their program!)
“Every single family has chosen to adopt their Molly & Me Project dog,” says Smíšek. “A few have even requested to stop being paid because they wanted to see the money go back to the organization for other dogs in need, and some adopted after only a few months without prompted adoption interest, because they loved the dog so much that they wanted him/her to not be listed for adoption anymore!”
“Our goal is to place dogs so that they do not linger in our kennels for their own benefit, and for the benefit of all the dogs who need our space awaiting rescue. Remember, we are working with seniors here at Frosted Faces Foundation and time is of the essence. While our space is beautiful and volunteers are aplenty, we do not advertise ourselves as a sanctuary. Our goal is family for all of our Frosted Faces.”