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Fostering: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What is a Foster Home?

A foster home is a temporary living situation for pets in our program while they are awaiting placement in a permanent home, transport for rescue, or to move into one of our adoption locations.  Foster families provide shelter, food, care and love. The number of animals we can save depends entirely on the number of people who open their homes and hearts to foster them.


I am interested in fostering. What do I do?

Awesome!  Please complete our online foster application at  One of our foster coordinators will then contact you within 48 hours.  


What types of animals need to be fostered?

You can foster cats, dogs, puppies, kittens -- nearly any animal we have can benefit from foster care!  

Some of the animals who will benefit most:

  • Orphaned kittens and puppies needing to be bottle fed

  • Mother cat or dog with nursing kittens or puppies

  • Under-aged, self-feeding kittens and puppies (4-8 weeks old)

  • Animals recovering from injury or illness (may need medication)

  • Animals that are mildly sick; such as Kennel Cough in dogs or Upper Respiratory Infection in cats. (may need medication)

  • Shy or fearful animals that need socialization

  • Healthy adult animals waiting for space at the shelter, or that need a break from life at the shelter

  • Animals that would benefit from home to home adoption


Can I pick the type of animal I bring into my home?

Yes, you choose the type (dog/cat/adult/young, etc) of animal you are comfortable with inviting into your home. Together with the foster coordinator, we will decide the exact animal(s) you take home.


Why foster?

Because many of our dogs and cats cannot go directly into one of our adoption locations or be transported to rescue immediately, the only way we can save these animals is with the help of foster homes.  Our young kittens and puppies need to stay in foster until they are old enough to be spayed and neutered, at which time they are ready for adoption. In some cases, a foster home is needed to help an animal transition from the stress of having been abandoned at a shelter.  For some dogs and cats, such as those who are older, ill or injured may need to stay in a foster home until they are adopted.


What are the benefits of fostering to me?  

There are many benefits to fostering!  Being a pet foster family has rewards beyond the essential value of helping a pet in need find a new home. For some, it is a chance to have an animal companion without a lifetime commitment, or for those who want to adopt a pet, but cannot.  For others, it is the special challenge of helping an animal recover from an illness or injury, or who want to volunteer directly with animals but lack the time or inclination to do so in a shelter environment. It can be a welcome relief from loneliness for seniors, full of the joy of giving extra TLC to kittens and puppies too young to be adopted or to try new companions for an existing pet. 


What are the duties of a PVAS Foster Family?

  • Feed, socialize, love, groom, introduce basic training, and care for the animals as if they were your own

  • Bring your foster animal(s) to scheduled vet appointments and open houses to be viewed by potential adopters

  • Observe and report any problems with the animal to the Foster Coordinator

  • Return the animal to the Shelter upon request or according to any special arrangements made by the Foster Coordinator or PVAS Staff.


How old you need to be to foster?

Foster parents must be at least 18 years old.  If you are under 18, you can still foster with permission from your parents or legal guardian.


How much time does fostering take on a daily basis?

Time commitment typically range from an hour or two each day to as much as eight hours a day if you are bottle-feeding infants.  Mostly we ask you give as much love and care as you can.


Can I let my foster dog play with my personal pets?

There are a few guidelines that we ask foster families to adhere to regarding their personal pets. While foster dogs playing with other pets is often fine, we advise that you consult with your veterinarian to ensure that all of your personal pets are healthy and up-to-date on all vaccines. 


Will a PVAS representative visit my home?

No, we do not conduct home visits to foster or adopt any animal.


Can I foster a dog if I don’t have a fenced yard?

Yes. Even if you do have a fenced yard, we request that you supervise all outdoor activities with the foster dog. And we ask that you always keep him or her on a leash when you’re on walks.


What if I have children?

Fostering is a wonderful family experience and can build a foundation of philanthropy in your children. It’s important to select an animal that is age-appropriate with your children. You must also be diligent about providing guidance, instructions and rules to your children about caring for your foster animal.


What are the financial responsibilities associated with fostering?

We will provide you and the animal with all dry food, medications and age appropriate vaccinations, as well as a microchip. Spay/neuter surgery (if applicable) is also available to foster pets, and is sometimes a requirement before going to a partner adoption location (Petco/Petsmart). 

All additional supplies (toys, formula/bottles, canned food, beds, crates/kennels, carriers, leashes and collars, etc), are available by donation only. The supplies we are able to provide to you depends on our supply of shelter donations. The cost of these items is something you should try to budget for, in the event that we do not have donations at the center. 


How long will the animal(s) be in my home?

Typically, it’s at least two weeks.  Some pets need more time because of age, illness, injury, or behavior issues. You will be told up-front before you agree to foster the pet how long of a commitment we believe it will be.  Whenever possible, we try to have you foster until the animal is adopted or transported to a rescue partner organization.


How are foster animals marketed so that they get adopted?

Every animal is included on our website.  Any photos and stories you provide us, we’ll be sure to share with potential adopters too. We are also grateful when you can share about your foster animal with friends, family, on social media, etc.  The more shares, the faster we can hopefully find his or her new home.  


Can I name my foster animal?

Our foster animals already have names. We ask that you do not change the name we have given them while fostering as their name corresponds with medical and other important records.


Can I adopt my foster animal?

This depends on whether your foster animal is confirmed to go to a rescue partner organization or not. As long as foster animal is available for adoption locally, and the parents meet the shelter requirements necessary for adoption, foster parents have first choice to adopt their foster pet. Paperwork is required and our regular adoption fees usually apply.


What type of training do I receive?

We’re available to answer your questions and ask you participate in a foster orientation with us.  If the animal requires medicine or something else, we’ll be sure to cover those details with you. 


Do I need to have prior medical knowledge or expertise?

No prior medical knowledge is required.  If medication is required for your foster animal, we will cover those details with you so you are comfortable and able to administer it accurately.


What if my foster animal becomes sick?

If a foster animal becomes sick, foster parents should contact the Foster Coordinator to schedule a visit at our PAWS health care center. 


Can I return my foster animal to the shelter if I am unable to foster any longer?

We understand that situations change and it may become necessary to discontinue fostering. We request that a foster parent provide as much notice as possible so that we can find an alternative foster home to transfer the animal to. Of course, in an emergency a foster parent may always bring their animal back to the shelter.


What if I go on vacation or have a business trip?

If given enough notice, we can usually find volunteers that can foster sit for short durations. We ask that foster parents always keep the Foster Coordinator aware of any temporary foster sitting situations such as with a pet sitter or boarding or if you want to take the animal on the trip too.

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