a volunteer in a red apron is licked on the cheek by a large golden brown dog with black stripes


Our work wouldn't be possible without our incredible volunteers! Join us and make a lifesaving difference.

Don't be a Kit-Napper!

When you find kittens outside, they may not need your help.

A brown and black dog outside. He is wearing a harness with a blue collar, standing in green grass

Foster a Shelter Pet

TLC for pets who need it most

Fosters provide lifesaving care to pets who need time away from the shelter. When you open your home to foster a pet, you offer the special support that pet needs, help preserve extremely strained shelter resources, and create space for other animals in need.

HSSW is caring for more pets than ever in the history of our organization. As the need in our community grows, fosters are vital to ensure pets in our community have the care and support they deserve. From kittens and puppies to adult animals, fostering saves lives. 

Become a Foster

Types of Pets You Can Foster

All pets at HSSW are eligible for foster, but we prioritize placement for the pets who need it most. 

  • Dogs - Our greatest need is foster placement for large dogs who need the space and enrichment that's only possible in a home. We occasionally have placement needs for shy or nervous dogs who need a quiet home where they can relax.
  • Kittens - Litters of kittens - with or without mom - make up the largest number of pets who need foster at HSSW. Our greatest need is typically March - October when kittens as young as a few days to several weeks old arrive at HSSW for care. 
  • Puppies - Most puppies arriving at HSSW are in need of short-term foster placement until they are old enough to be adopted. We occasionally need long-term care for pregnant adult dogs or mama dogs with a litter of puppies.
  • Cats - Foster placement for adult cats is available throughout the year, especially during kitten season when kennel space is limited. 
  • Small Animals - Throughout the year we have occasional need for fosters to care for rabbits, guinea pigs, and other small animals. 

Why Pets Need Foster Placement

There are many reasons we may seek foster placement for a shelter pet.

  • Young animals - Puppies and kittens are often our most vulnerable residents. Foster placement reduces their exposure to common viruses (like cat and dog colds) and provides critical socialization, helping them adapt more quickly to their home when they're adopted.
  • Stress Relief - Shelters can be stressful places - especially for fearful pets and large active dogs. This stress can have an impact on a pets emotional and physical well-being. Whether their placement is a long term foster until they're adopted, or a temporary break for a few days or weeks, time out of the shelter gives pets time to relax.
  • Medical cases - Foster placement is a great way to ensure animals with special medical needs receive care in a reduced-stress environment. Most animals seeking foster for medical reasons are easily cared for and fosters receive support and training from our team. 
  • Behavior support - Shelters can be stressful places for some animals, and taking a break with a foster is not only more enriching, it also helps reduce and prevent unwanted behaviors that may result from shelter stress.

Becoming a foster is one of the most meaningful ways to support pets. If you're ready to become a foster, click here to begin the registration process.

Can't commit to fostering, but still want to make a difference? Check out our Foster Wish List to donate supplies that support our foster program.

Foster FAQ

Fostering a pet is a big commitment, and it's also one of the most rewarding ways to help shelter pets! Learn more about common questions below.

  • Do you offer training on how to care for my foster?

    Absolutely. All of our foster volunteers go through training so they're prepared to welcome a new pet into their home. A member of our team is always available to help, and we also have foster mentors to assist along the way. Dogs will often have a behavior enrichment plan that will help you understand their needs. This helps you know more about your foster and what they need to be successful in the home.

  • Is there a time commitment to foster?

    The length of the foster placement depends on the animal and their needs. We will match you with a foster assignment that works with your schedule, availability and interests. We love it when a family can foster until a pet is adopted, but for some animals (usually adult dogs) even a short-term foster can be a beneficial break from the shelter. Kittens and puppies tend to do best when they have a single home for the duration of their foster placement.

  • What are the requirements for fosters?

    Requirements will vary according to the type of foster placement you're seeking, and you'll learn more about specific requirements in the orientation process. The following general requirements apply to all foster homes and families.

    • The primary foster in the household must be 18 or older and complete all required volunteer trainings.
    • A schedule that allows you to meet the needs of foster animals in your care. There are many options for various schedules!
    • A home environment that provides a safe and comfortable environment for your foster pet.
    • Any other pets in your home must be spayed/neutered and up to date on vaccines. Resident cats must be negative for FIV/FeLV. 
    • Foster cats and kittens must remain indoors at all times.
  • What happens if I have to go out of town?

    Our foster team is here to support you. If you have to travel, our team will help find alternative foster placement or provide space for them at the shelter while you're away. We are here to support you so you can enjoy your time away.

  • Can my family help?

    Absolutely. Fostering is a family affair. If there are kids in the foster home, kitten fostering can be a great opportunity to teach them the importance of caring for animals. Of course, a home with kids may not be the right fit for all pets; our team will help connect your family with foster opportunities that are the right fit for your home and family.

  • Can I foster if I have other dogs or cats?

    The simple answer is: sometimes.

    While it's dependent on each dog's needs, having another friendly dog in the foster home can often be a big help for shy and nervous dogs. And for active dogs, a playmate can be an excellent way to burn off energy. As always, safety is our top priority - your foster dog will need to meet other resident dogs before coming to your home, just to make sure everyone gets along. 

    All foster felines have a mandatory 2-week quarantine away from all household animals when they go to foster. If it's a mom with babies, they must be kept separate from resident animals for the duration of their time in foster. If there is no mom and it's just kittens, they can be carefully introduced to household animals after the 2-week quarantine.

    Introductions of foster pets to other pets in the home must always be supervised to ensure the safety and comfort of animals in the home. 

  • Is it hard to say goodbye when your foster is adopted?

    We're not going to sugarcoat it... yep. It is! Saying goodbye to a foster is an emotional experience. Fosters need the ability to say goodbye, but when the time comes, our foster team will help you through it. It's important to remember that fostering is a temporary situation and saying goodbye to a foster pet enables you to help another in need. A great foster parent can save many lives by socializing and rehabilitating pets who need a little extra time and care.


Contact us at 
[email protected]