Fostering FAQs

What is fostering?

Fostering is like temporary ownership — you take care of your foster pet as though it were your own ideally until we find the animal the right long-term, stable forever home. The more committed foster homes we have, the more lives we can save. When we have trouble finding foster homes, we can’t take in as many animals, and those we have to leave behind are often euthanized for space reasons in overwhelmed municipal shelters.

Why are your animals in foster homes?

It’s much healthier for a pet to be in a home instead of in a cage while it waits to be adopted. When a dog or cat is in a foster home, we can learn way more about the animal’s true personality (likes, dislikes, training level, exercise requirement…) versus its “cage personality,” which makes it much easier to find the best match as we are looking for a forever family. By placing our animals in foster homes, we can also rescue far, far more than we would be able to if they were in cages at a shelter.

How do I start fostering?

Complete the dog foster application or the cat foster application, and then email when you see a post on our Instagram account asking for foster help as per the post instructions!

How long does fostering last?

Fostering tends to last 2 to 4 weeks for dogs because most get adopted within that timeframe. Sometimes dogs get adopted much more quickly, sometimes it takes longer. We ask that foster parents hold onto their foster dog until the dog is adopted if possible because the less a dog bounces around, the better it is for the dog. It can be stressful for a dog to move from home to home unnecessarily. For cats, fostering tends to last at least a few months.

How do I find out which animals need to be fostered?

Follow us on Instagram. We regularly post requests for foster help.

Do I get to foster whatever animal I want?

No way! It would be irresponsible of us not to be careful about how we place our animals in foster homes. Similar to the way we try to match-make with adoptions, we do our best to set our animals up for success right from the beginning by making sure their foster parents are as suited to their needs as possible. If you don’t have the schedule, experience, etc. an animal requires even temporarily, you’ll both be miserable, and the animal’s wellbeing will suffer when it needs to move from foster home to foster home indefinitely. Based on your application, we try to pair you with a dog that we think will work for your dog care experience level and lifestyle. You’re more than welcome to respond to posts on Instagram requesting foster help for animals that look like they may be a match for you!

Do you guys deliver the animal to me?

Nope — as a foster parent, you are responsible for all of the animal’s transportation while it’s with you. This goes for picking up your foster pet, bringing your foster pet to vet appointments and adoption meetings, attending photo sessions, and more. Some foster parents use public transportation, some have their own cars, some take cabs. Animals are allowed on public transportation in NYC as long as they are in carriers/bags, and it’s generally not too tough to find cabs that will take pets. If this is a deal breaker for you, fostering may not be a good match because we expect our foster parents to bring their animals to necessary engagements regularly.

What if something comes up and I need to give my foster animal back?

We will place the animal in a new foster home if you can no longer care for your foster pet. We need at least 24 hours notice, and the more notice you can provide us with the better. If you are going out of town, let us know as far in advance as you can. If you are experiencing a specific challenge with your foster dog, email your foster coordinator right away so we can offer suggestions or trainer contacts and look for new placement if necessary.

What kinds of supplies do I need?

Not much. We can provide a leash, harness, coat if necessary, and crate if you want one for dogs. For cats we can usually provide a litter box. Most of our foster parents end up buying their own pet food and/or cat litter for convenience reasons, but we are happy to provide that too if you want to pop by once in a while to pick it up. All supplies that you purchase for your foster pet can be considered tax deductible donations to the shelter.

What kinds of challenges can I expect to face while fostering?

All kinds! Or maybe very few, who’s to say? Fostering a live animal is very rewarding and can also be at times difficult, frustrating, confusing, heartbreaking… There are lots of variables, so your experience as a foster parent will depend on your history and past encounters with animals, your lifestyle, and your personality type. It will also depend on the animal you’re fostering — each is an individual and completely different from the next. One dog might bounce into your apartment footloose and fancy free and have few accidents while the next could be quite shy at first and require housebreaking training, for example. Almost all animals in new environments exhibit signs of stress at first, so no matter the animal you take home, it’s very important that you be patient with things like accidents, barking, chewing stuff up, pacing, restless nights, and so on for at least the first few days. With brand new rescues, you may also have to have a strong stomach. Yucky stuff like a few worms, ticks, or fleas is totally normal and not a big deal or dangerous. So is diarrhea, a little vomit, scabbed skin, and other stuff like that. We’ll do our best to make sure you know about any of these fun bonuses as long as we do, but if you notice anything that hasn’t been brought to your attention, please bring it to ours so we can address it ASAP. Making sure all of our animals get individualized care and attention is one of the main reasons you guys are fostering them! Try to keep in mind they often come from very bad places where they’ve been neglected, forced to live outside or in a basement, and have never seen a vet in their life. Cut ’em some slack. Fostering is awesome, but nobody ever said it’s easy.

Is my foster dog up to date on vaccines?

Yes. All of the dogs in our care are up to date on their. core vaccines. Sometimes brand new rescues or puppies need boosters during their first few weeks with us, so you may be contacted by your foster coordinator to set up a booster visit. (You’ll be responsible for bringing your dog for that.) If you’re fostering a puppy, please see below. (For puppies, “up to date” doesn’t necessarily mean safe for walking around in public.)

I’m fostering a puppy! Is it safe to let her out on the ground with other dogs?

It’s safe to let your foster puppy on the ground and with other dogs as long as your foster puppy has had its final round of puppy vaccines, which usually happens between 12 and 16 weeks. If you’re fostering a puppy younger than this, you’ll need to wait. It’s okay to have your foster puppy on the floor of your apartment and other private spaces, and puppy play dates with other dogs you know are up to date on vaccines and not carrying anything contagious are okay. If you’re fostering a puppy older than 16 weeks, you should be all set but please check with the foster coordinator who set you up with you foster dog just to be sure.

What happens once an adoption application is approved for my foster dog?

We’ll email you to coordinate a time for the meeting/adoption.

What happens if I want to adopt my foster animal?

Let us know immediately if you are thinking about adopting your foster pet as your adoption application would need to be approved. If your application is approved, you have the option to adopt ONLY if another adopter has not already been approved to adopt the animal. You cannot decide you want to adopt your foster animal after we have a home lined up — and very excited. We place all of our adoptable animals in forever homes based on which home is the best match for the animal, so while we love it when an animal’s foster home ends up turning into its forever home, foster parents do NOT have the “first right to adopt.”

Can I foster with the intention of adopting?

Yep! We have a formal foster-to-adopt program. Read about it here!

Am I expected to pay for veterinary care for my foster pet?

Nope. We cover veterinary expenses as long as you go through us for ALL veterinary issues. If you take your foster animal to a vet without our permission, it is your financial responsibility. If you have questions about symptoms like coughing or sneezing etc., please email your foster contact, and we’ll let you know what to do and/or hook you up with vet care. (NOTE: If you join our foster-to-adopt program, you are expected to cover some of the animal’s veterinary expenses. Read more about it here.)

What do I do in the case of a veterinary emergency?

In the case of a true veterinary emergency, please contact us at 415-987-5774 or 914-646-5515. You must reach one of us and get approval before taking your foster pet to a veterinary facility, so please leave a voice message and/or text if you can’t reach us right away by phone. We will only cover the cost of an emergency visit if we consider the condition a true veterinary emergency, which we define as a condition that is immediately life threatening to the animal. Conditions that fall into this category may include unconsciousness, severe bleeding, severe burns, obvious bone fractures or breaks, severe difficulty breathing. We DO NOT consider the following issues emergencies: minor wounds (where bleeding can be controlled), minor burns (mild discomfort evident), limping, minimal blood in the urine or feces, ear or eye infection, abscesses, diarrhea, irritated spay/neuter incision site, etc.

Can I take my foster dog to the dog run?

That’s a hard no. Sorry, for safety reasons none of our dogs are allowed in any dog run or other public off leash area.

What are my responsibilities as a foster parent?

You are expected to provide your foster pet with all of the loving care it needs, which includes (but is not limited to) food, water, shelter, exercise, and medication when required. You are expected to be available via phone call, text, and/or email on a daily basis so that we can check in when necessary and coordinate meet-and-greets with potential adopters. When it’s time for your foster pet to meet a potential adopter, you’ll need to be cooperative and available to do so within 24 hours for a FaceTime call and within 48 hours. You’ll need to be able to transport your foster pet to vet appointments, adoption meetings, photo sessions, and for an in person meeting. You must answer any questions we may have about your foster pet so that we can make sure it stays healthy and gets adopted to the best forever home possible. We also ask that you put potential adopters you meet in touch with us so that we can explain and begin the application process.

How do potential adopters find out about my foster pet?

All of our adoptable pets are listed on multiple pet search websites such as Petfinder. We regularly share updates on our animals in foster care via Instagram, and we often have adoption events you can attend with your foster dog.

Do I have to attend adoption events?

Events are not mandatory but they are a great way to get exposure for your foster dog so he/she can find a forever home faster. You will receive emails from our adoption event coordinator with details.