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Foster Care Programs Considerations

ASPCA, National Shelter Outreach

Foster Care Programs Considerations


Foster care can give temporarily unadoptable animals a second chance at adoption. It provides these animals with an environment where they can prosper. Such a program allows staff and volunteers to provide foster care in their homes to currently unadoptable animals until they are in “adoptable” condition. Additionally, a foster care program can do wonders for staff and volunteer morale as well as promote positive public relations.

Young animals, in particular, and sick or injured animals do not do well in a shelter situation. Stress decreases their already compromised immune system.


Consider carefully before starting a foster care program. Foster care contracts/agreements should be taken seriously. A disorganized or unsupervised foster program can be disastrous. Staff or volunteers wishing to foster one or more animals should first receive supervisory approval. If the foster program includes members of the general public, they should be throughly screened and show documentation that all animals they own are current on their inoculations and spayed or neutered.

Zoonotic diseases are diseases that are transmitted from animal to person. Common transmissible diseases are: ringworm, mites, fleas, mange and less frequently roundworm, tapeworm, coccidia, or giardia. Foster caretakers should be educated about possible zoonotic diseases and sanitary precautions.

New foster animals should be kept separate from the foster caretaker’s animals for at least a week.

Animal to animal disease transmissions. Foster caretakers that own other animals need to understand the risks of fostering. Cat-owning caretakers fostering cats should make certain their cat has tested negative for feline leukemia and feline retro virus. Both dog and cat owners should have their animals current on vaccinations.


Future Adoptability

Will this animal, after being fostered, likely be adopted?

Veterinary Care Needed

Does the potential foster home have the resources available to provide needed veterinary care and/or does the shelter have the available resources to treat the animal?

Housing Availability

Does the individual wishing to foster have proper housing available?

Time Taken From Essential Shelter Activities

If the animal is to be fostered by a staff member, will fostering the animal detract or detain the staff member from essential shelter activities?


A foster agreement contract is strongly suggested.

Animals in foster homes must be regularly monitored.

Adoption placements of foster animals should be conducted identically to those of animals in the shelter.

Fostering should be a positive experience for the animal not a simple prolonging of life.

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