Opting to foster a dog from your local humane society or animal shelter is a great way to rescue stray pets in your community. Homeless animals need your help because shelters are often operating at full capacity, putting a strain on their resources.

[How Many Pets is Too Many in Your Apartment?]

Fostering a dog from an animal shelter is different from adopting in that you are only temporarily responsible for the animal’s care. Once the foster period is up, you will return the dog to the animal rescue where it will be up for permanent adoption. Before you agree to bring a new pet into your home, be sure to carefully consider whether or not you will be able to live up to the foster agreement.

Do Your Research

You will want to find out as much as you can about not only the dog you intend to foster, but also the terms of the fostering agreement. Different shelters and animal rescues have different policies and procedures, as far as the length of the fostering period is concerned.

Some shelters only need the help of foster homes while a small puppy develops, or until a dog recovers from an illness or injury, while others expect you to foster the animal until it is adopted. The first thing you will want to know is why the dog needs a foster home at this point in time to determine whether it will be a long-term or short-term stay.

[Pet Health: A Guide to Pet Vaccines]

In addition, you will want to know whether the dog has been spayed or neutered, its medical history (including any shots and heartworm treatments) and the general demeanor of the animal. You should also know whether or not the dog is house trained or crate trained, as that will determine whether or not it is a solitary animal or needs a lot of attention.

Prepare Your Apartment

You’ll need to start by checking your apartment lease to be sure your building doesn’t have any pet fees or restrictions. Even if you live in a pet-friendly building, you should be open and honest with your landlord before you agree to foster a dog.

[How to Avoid Animal Anxiety]

You will need to provide your foster dog with access to clean drinking water, food, a shelter (such as a crate) and toys. The shelter you are fostering from will be able to tell you the appropriate kind of food you should provide your dog, as well as any medications you might need to administer if it is recovering from illness or injury.

Prepare Yourself

Many people who would like to foster a dog may find that the process is too emotionally intense. To ensure the optimal outcome for you, the shelter and the dog, make sure you are mentally prepared for the toll that fostering an animal can take. At the end of the fostering period, many foster parents find it difficult to say goodbye to an animal that they have grown emotionally attached to. It is up to you to be ready when that day comes.