Temporarily opening your home to an animal allows our shelter to take in more animals in need of help.
In addition, fostering offers the one-on-one attention and loving comfort that only a home setting can offer, which is precisely what some animals need to heal.
As a foster volunteer, you may host animals with special medical or behavioral needs, mother animals with nursing litters or underage animals who need special feeding and socialization, like puppies, bunnies or kittens. By fostering an animal, you are providing rehabilitation in a nurturing home environment, directly preparing them for adoption into a loving home.
Here are some examples of foster assignments:
- Bottle kittens: kittens under 4 weeks of age, feeding/stimulating every 3 hours, even overnight.
- Quarantine animals: panleuk releases, etc.
- Medical assignments: recovering from injury or surgery.
- Behavior assignments: on behavior modification plans.
- Bottle puppies: puppies under 4 weeks of age, feeding/stimulating every 3 hours, even overnight.
- Older puppies: Must have an enclosed yard since pups cannot go out on walks due to immature immune systems. If no yard, then must stay indoors and be trained on potty pads.
- Large breed pregnant dogs: Must have a quiet, dedicated room away from other pets and children.
- Small pets: hamsters, bunnies, guinea pigs.
"Being a first time foster mom to two kittens so small (9 days old) was daunting at first, but within a day their need for me outweighed my reservations over what I was capable of. I can't believe I've had them for a week already! I'm so looking forward to getting them all set for their future homes." —San Diego Humane Society Foster Volunteer
What are the requirements of becoming a foster pet-parent?
- The main volunteer contact for the family must be at least 18 years old (have this person complete the application).
- You must be able to lift, push or carry at least 50 pounds.
- You must have reliable transportation for transporting animal(s) to vet appointments or evacuating them in case of an emergency.
- All parties responsible for care of foster animal(s) are encouraged to complete the foster care training.
- You must have a schedule that allows you to meet the needs of foster animals in your care.
Can I adopt my foster animals?
YES! Foster volunteers often fall in love with a pet they are fostering and it is indeed acceptable to adopt your foster pet if you have found that perfect match for your family.
Is it difficult to say goodbye?
Yes it is. Fosters definitely need the ability to say goodbye, but rest assured our Foster Care Team will help you through it. Please remember that fostering is a temporary situation and letting go of one foster pet enables you to help another in need. Although each adoption saves a life, a great foster parent can save many lives by socializing and rehabilitating pets that need a little extra time and care to be ready for a forever home.
Is there a time commitment?
The length of foster assignments varies based on the needs of the animal. You will receive an approximate duration before you commit to an animal. Some of our youngest foster animals need around-the-clock care, including feedings every 2-3 hours, while other foster animals can be left at home for up to 10 hours at a time. We will match you with a foster assignment that works with your schedule, availability and interests.
Where do I pick up my foster animals?
You'll be given options of animals from a variety of locations. You will pick up animals from the San Diego Humane Society campus where the animal is located. We have campuses in San Diego, Oceanside and Escondido, so you can select animals at the locations that are most convenient for you.
Will I need to provide food or supplies?
San Diego Humane Society is proud to provide the necessary training, supplies and support you will need to care for your foster animals. This includes things like crates, food, litter, medication and veterinary services. If you would like to prepare your own foster kit, or donate to the Foster Care supply, please visit our Amazon Wish List for a list of frequently needed supplies.