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Fostering FAQ’s – For the Potential Foster Parent

After receiving emails from potential foster owners on a daily basis, we have put together a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) about fostering. Written by Site Editor Sarah (right, with foster girl Mocha in 2009). 

Please write to us if you have anything to add, or additional questions for us. We are happy to help!

Why Foster, and what does it entail?

First, see what PetFinder suggests

“To make a real impact on shelter animals, consider becoming a foster parent. In animal rescue, a foster home is a necessary ingredient for moving a dog out of a shelter and on the way to a good forever home. Some dogs don’t do at all well in a shelter environment; they may be elderly or frightened of the smells and sounds. These dogs have a much greater chance of being adopted if they’re placed in a home environment and are given some TLC.”As you spend time with your foster dog, you’ll learn the finer points about the dog’s personality. This is a wonderful gift you can give to people looking to adopt the dog. You’ll be able to inform them of all the strong points, as well as areas that need to be focused on if they are considering adopting your foster dog. If you already have a dog, fostering can provide your pup with a companion and playmate.”Fostering a dog teaches children about compassion and generosity. Fostering means that you save a life. You are making room for another dog at the shelter. One more open run or kennel means one less dog put to sleep. Having a foster dog lets you actively participate in the rehabilitation of a traumatized or needy dog. Due to the attention and security your give him in your home, your foster can become a different dog–less timid and less emotionally or physically injured.

“Most of all, fostering is incredibly satisfying. The day your foster dog finds his perfect forever home might be a sad one for you, but know that he wouldn’t be where he is without all of your efforts and affection!”

– Fran Grimaldi of NYC’s Anarchy Animal Rescue

Also see: Health benefits of having a pet

How long does fostering last for? 

This is a commitment that could last anywhere between two weeks to several months. The goal is to put the animal in a safe place that will help it become a better pet at the same time (socializing, training if needed, etc). The more you put into the efforts to get the word out, the more responses you should have, thus increasing the dog’s chance of adoption. I’ve heard stories from people whose foster dogs were adopted almost right away, and some that took months to find a forever home. Like I said, it’s a lot about the dog’s publicity and exposure; but it’s also about the dog’s health – if they are fit and healthy (and happy!), adopters will pick up on that and be more interested to take them home. And if you want, fostering could become permanent if you fall in love and decide to adopt. In almost all cases, foster families get first dibs on adopting the foster pooch!

What is the financial commitment?

About the financial cost of fostering– I was an AC&C foster parent; they don’t provide much, except a very affordable adoption fee (including cost of spay/neuter once they owner signs the paperwork). I paid for the following items out of my own pocket: leash, collar, dog food. If I did it over again, I would also invest in a crate, since it’s not the best idea to leave a dog that’s not yet housetrained to roam freely around your apartment. From my experience, fostering can cost a small amount; you may have to pay for certain expenses, but it’s possible the rescue group will pay for everything – it all depends what the shelter’s policy is. At ACC, they won’t spay/neuter until there is a formal adopter (very inexpensive), which is frustrating since foster homes are a great place for a dog to recover from that type of surgery before going to a new home… Some rescue groups will perform all surgeries on a dog before they go to a foster home. So, it just depends…

The cost is not too bad, especially since almost all rescue groups provide vaccinations and vet check-ups beforehand (check on the vet policy with fostering for the rescue group/shelter). You might not even have to spend a penny if you get items donated from the group itself; leashes and collars are easy to get as hand-me-downs or on clearance at pet supply stores. All in all, fostering can cost anywhere from $0 – $20 per week, depending on how much you are provided with and how much you would like to invest in your foster dog.

Would the rescue work to find a home for the dog – or would that become my duty?

Nowadays, almost all rescue groups have websites – or if anything, a PetFinder page. This will be a great tool in letting the world know about your dog’s adoptable status. Some groups organize adoption fairs, urging foster parents to bring their foster dog to the event. And some groups send out emails about their available dogs as well. It depends on how the rescue group or shelter conducts their publicity. A lot has to do with the foster parent, no matter how you slice it. Photos are crucial – if the foster parent can snap a few “cute” photos of their foster dog outside, it’s a great help to the dog’s adoption appeal. And any info foster parents can provide about the dog for a PetFinder bio is also key. Some foster parents write on blogs about their dog (or START a blog, like I did – being!), and some post on Facebook. Your dog will benefit from wearing an “Adopt Me” vest when he or she goes out of the home – and it’s a great way to meet people in your neighborhood! There are so many ways to get the word out that it’s really up to you just how involved you become.

Would I be responsible for taking the pet to adoption events?

Not all rescue groups or shelters have adoption events, and might not require you to bring the dog to these events. You will want to ask about this before committing to foster. It’s a fun activity, though, if that’s something that interests you! NYC Animal Care & Control does not have many adoption events, so I can safely say there’s very little chance you’d be asked to attend any events if you foster through them.

What about dogs who have developed separation anxiety in the shelter?  … and …. Will my current dog be enough company for the foster dog while I’m at work?

There are many reasons why new foster parents might be nervous about leaving a dog alone while the parent goes to work. Apartment dwellers (ie: most NYC folk) would likely be concerned about the dog barking and bothering the neighbors – or about the dog creating damage in the rental apartment – or even if the building allows dogs at all. Since many dogs from rescue groups come with a small bio, it’s good to read through and see if the dog has separation issues. And if the dog has not yet been evaluated, or is from a city shelter – it would be up to you to find out on your own. Yes, this is risky, but there are ways of “curing” the issue.

Many dogs develop separation anxiety at shelters or in kennels, when their human contact is very limited, and the environment can be quite stressful. Once a dog is in a proper home, they might relax after several days and learn that they are safe. There are special toys for overly energetic dogs who need activities during the day, and some just need company. Having a dog with separation anxiety is often easier to handle if there’s another calm animal to hang out with.

How can I properly introduce my current pet to my new foster dog?

This is a great question, and is important to research in advance. Here are some site suggestions with tips:





Advice and thoughts from other rescuers: answers many FAQ’s HERE.


And HERE are many rescue groups in need of foster homes and volunteers! 

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