What is a Dog Foster Home? A foster home is a temporary living situation for dogs and puppies in our program. Dogs may stay in foster while they are awaiting placement in a permanent home. We rely on our foster homes to care for underage puppies (less than 8 weeks old) and their nursing mom, weaned puppies, adult dogs, and dogs with special needs (including medical conditions or behavioral issues). Foster families provide the shelter in a loving home, transportation to and from medical appointments when necessary, and availability to bring the pet for adoption events or to meet prospective families. We provide everything else. The number of animals we can save depends entirely on the number of people we have to foster them.
Why Foster? Most of all, fostering homeless animals save lives! Many homeless pets may not be ready to find a forever home. Finding a foster home for them may be the only way for them to get from a shelter, where they may be at risk of death, to their forever home. Being a dog foster family has rewards beyond saving a life. It can be a chance to have an animal companion without a lifetime commitment—puppies are wonderful, but do you really want a year of puppiness?!
After medical and behavior precautions are addressed, a foster dog can be a great companion for an existing pet. In some cases, you can experience the special challenge of helping an animal recover from an illness or injury or the trauma of losing a beloved owner or home. You can also gain valuable handling knowledge and experience by training your foster dog or helping them to overcome a behavioral issue. Or it may just be the pure fun of giving extra TLC to these four-legged canines that need our help. But above all, you get the satisfaction and joy of knowing that you have saved a life!
What Types of Dogs Need Foster Care? Foster homes are needed for pregnant dogs, moms with newborns, orphaned puppies less than 8 weeks old, weaned puppies over 8 weeks old, adult and senior dogs, and dogs who are ill and needing medical care. Basically, foster care is for all our dogs and puppies who need a little extra TLC while they wait for their forever homes! Some foster homes choose to specialize in fostering a specific type of dog—for example, only puppies—while others choose to foster any dog or puppy in need.
What are the Responsibilities of a Dog Foster Home? Foster homes are asked to provide foster dogs with plenty of love, adequate food and water, shelter from the elements, and exercise. Administering medications or other medical care may also be necessary. In addition to providing the basics, foster parents may also be asked to follow a behavioral or training plan with their foster dog or puppy.
Usually, foster parents are responsible for picking up their foster dog and transporting them to veterinary appointments and to adoption events. Foster homes play a crucial role in saving and rehabilitating rescued animals. They are in a unique position to help abused or neglected animals learn how to love and trust again. Foster homes can help these animals become more “adoptable” by providing socialization and basic training. By teaching or re-teaching an animal how to live in a home setting, foster homes help increase the odds for a smooth and successful transition into a permanent adoptive home.
Equipment and Supplies
Animal Lifeline will supply you with everything you will need to successfully host your foster dog. Food, medicine, toys, and puppy pee pads (if needed) will be provided. A hard crate/carrier can be available for transporting your dog in the car. We have pens and/or crates to contain your dog and for crate training. Please note, this equipment is purchased by Animal Lifeline (not donated to us) and so we require the return of all equipment and remaining supplies upon returning the dog for adoption or for continued fostering with another foster.
Please clean the items before returning and we will sterilize them for the next user.
Your dog will need a round of 3 vaccines before it is fully vaccinated. Until then there are absolutely “No Feet on the Ground”. No walks off your property, no visiting public places, ABSOLUTELY NO PET STORES and please don’t put your puppy anywhere unknown dogs have been. This means that the dog in your care can only be in your house and your yard.
Keeping the foster dog in your care
We like the foster dogs to be in the foster home for one week minimum to destress and settle before adopting the dog out. A foster assignment usually lasts 3 weeks or longer while our adoption team goes through applications and sets up Meet and Greets.
Your foster dog will need to remain in your home and under your care at all times.
This means no going out of town with your foster and no dropping the dog at your sister’s for an overnight stay because she loves puppies. If you have any upcoming trips or can only foster short term, please let us know before you accept a dog. If an unexpected trip arises, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can try to find an alternate foster for the dog. We usually don’t have extra fosters waiting in the wings so to rehome the dog with another foster may take shuffling dogs and foster homes.
Meet and Greets
You will be required to bring your foster dog to meet ’n greets with potential/ approved adopters either at the applicant’s home or at the Thrift Store. If you are unwilling or consistently unable to bring your foster for meet and greets, we may need to consider removing the dog from your care and placing into a home of a foster family that is able to accommodate meet and greets schedules. Ultimately, our goal is to find our dogs their forever homes, but that can’t happen if potential adopters never get to meet the pup!
The Thrift Store meet and greets may consist of just you and one adoptive family or it can be a larger group of fosters and adopters gathered to meet available pups. The group Thrift Store meetings are typically a Thursday evening or Saturday during store hours. We like for the fosters to stay with the dogs to be able to talk to potential adopters about the dog at these group adoption events. Following a meet and greet, your dog may be adopted and go directly home with its new family or it may return home with you if not adopted or if a home visit is required before the family can take the dog.
If you have a schedule that is difficult or you are unwilling to bring the foster dog for meet ‘n greets, please let one of the coordinators know before you agree to take a foster dog.
There are occasions where the adoption coordinators may ask you to join them in the in-home meet ‘n greet. It is a great chance to meet the family who is interested in your dog and for you to help answer any questions they may have about the dog. You may be asked to step outside during the meet ‘n greet as your foster dog will be attached to you and we want to see how the dog interacts with family and their pets without the distraction of their favorite person. Your input is valuable, but please respect the knowledge and experience of the adoption coordinators as having the best interest of the dog and being best able to evaluate the meet ‘n greet.
We have a small team of volunteers processing applications as they come in. We may literally receive hundreds of applications for just one dog and the team will have to weed through them for the best adopters. This takes time, so know that if it’s taking some time for your dog to get adopted it’s usually not for lack of applications.
Our fosters are different from our adopters. If you are looking to adopt a dog, then you will need to apply to adopt. If you are a foster, your goal is to keep that dog safe and healthy until it is placed into its forever home. You will likely fall in love with your foster. Your friends, neighbors, co-workers and family will likely fall in love with your foster, but that does not guarantee they will be able to adopt your foster. Please let us know if you’ve got someone submitting an application for your pup but know that all applications are processed in the order received and using the vetting process that has the best interest of the dog in mind. It is likely that an approved adopter is already waiting to meet your dog.
Apply here to join our team as a foster!