How Becoming a Foster Parent for Animals Offers Lasting Benefits

If you love pets, consider opening your heart and home by becoming a foster parent for animals. Often an intermediate step between sheltering and adoption, pet fostering is a great way for animal lovers to provide a temporary home and compassionate care for a pet who is waiting to join a forever family.

Why Animals Need Fostering

Some shelter animals need extra time to become socialized, more trusting of humans and better behaved before they can be adopted, notes the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. A pet foster parent can help them make that transition.

Fostering also gives animals with special needs a chance to get the individualized attention they require to prepare for the move to a permanent home. According to PAWS, a nonprofit that advocates for animal welfare, cats and dogs in particular often need foster care when they’re:

  • Too young to be spayed or neutered in preparation for adoption.
  • Mothers nursing litters.
  • Recovering from sickness or injury.

How the Process Works

The first step to becoming a foster parent for animals is to find out if there is a pet fostering program near you. These programs often operate through local humane societies, animal rescue centers and other nonprofits dedicated to animal care. You can use the ASPCA’s Find a Shelter page to locate programs in your area.

To get on a list of foster parent volunteers, you’ll likely have to fill out an application and complete some training. You’ll also have to show that you can make your home suitable for pet fostering. For example, if you have pets currently living in your home, you must be able to provide the foster animal its own dedicated space separate from other pets, according to It may be beneficial to work with a foster care coordinator to identify the type of pet you’re best able to care for.

Once you’re assigned a foster pet to take home, many programs will furnish food, supplies and equipment for the pet’s care. In some arrangements, shelters work with veterinarians who treat foster animals at no charge to you. But always make sure you understand what your responsibilities are before signing a fostering agreement. And be aware that many shelters ask that you care for your foster pet until it’s permanently adopted. While difficult to predict, this timeline can span several months.

Benefits of Pet Fostering

Pet fostering doesn’t just provide a loving and safe home for the animal you take home; it can also benefit other animals. Whenever a foster parent takes in an animal from a shelter, more space becomes available in the shelter to take care of others that need rescuing.

If animals have brought joy to your life, pet fostering can be a great way to give back by helping a furry friend in need.

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