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A Critical Link Between Shelters and Forever Homes

The following is from the Summer 2010 issue of Protecting Animals, American Humane’s quarterly journal for animal welfare professionals. Used by permission. To learn more, visit

While foster programs are not a new concept for animal shelters, their role has increased in recent years as most shelters are no longer choosing to simply euthanize animals when they are filled to capacity. Many shelters now house more cats and kittens in foster homes than in their actual facilities during much of the year. It is not unusual for shelters to have as many as 200 to 300 cats in foster care during the height of kitten season. A robust network of fosters can be a lifeline during the spring, summer and early fall when most shelters are inundated with hundreds or even thousands of kittens, many of which are still nursing and cannot be adopted yet.

Although well worth the effort, building and managing a foster program can present many challenges. American Humane spoke with shelter professionals across the country about their foster programs and how they’re making the most of the foster phenomenon.

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