To foster or not to foster?

To foster or not to foster?

Take a look at the ins and outs of animal rescue and support, and learn what it means to foster a dog or cat in need!

Do you have the capacity to take on a short-term houseguest with four legs? Being a foster parent to an animal in need is incredibly rewarding. Perhaps you’ve always loved a certain breed and want to learn more, or maybe your lifestyle doesn’t allow for long-term animal care. In any case, fostering is a great option to consider – as long as you’re prepared. Here are some questions to ask before bringing an animal into your home.

1. What is the reason the animal came into care?

In many cases, living at a foster home is the best option for the animal and her future forever humans. These include:

  • Animals who are being cared for while their owners flee domestic abuse situations or receive medical care
  • Pregnant and/or nursing animals
  • Medical situations where the pet needs a specific recovery space (e.g. quick access to outdoors with no stairs), has a contagious health condition that requires an environment without other animals, or requires one-on-one care
  • Animals who are fearful in shelter environments
  • Dogs with contagious health conditions that require an environment without other animals
  • Dogs who are being “held” while their owners flee domestic abuse situations or receive medical care

Providing assistance in these situations makes you an absolute superstar!

2. How long do they estimate the animal will be in your care?

Though the length of time may change, it is important to have clear communication points set in advance if there is a chance the animal’s stay will need to be extended.

3. What is provided to meet the animal’s needs, and what are you expected to provide?

This can include food, toys, bedding, and more importantly, medical care. The animal organization is not monitoring the foster on a day-to-day basis, but you are. What kind of plan is there to address a medical emergency?

4. How available is the organization?

Is the organization able to pick up the animal and bring her to another foster home if you have an emergency of your own? How much time and notice do they need from you?

Selecting an organization to partner with: what social issues is the agency working to address?

The best agencies to partner with are the ones that are working on ‘root causes’. This means they are providing outreach services within communities to help animal guardians get access to veterinary care or behaviour rehabilitation services. They take in animals and foster them out when it is the best option for everyone involved.

The Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada provides grants to animal agencies that are doing research, education, and awareness initiatives. With the vision that all animals be well cared for and treated with respect, funding projects that address root causes has demonstrated that not all animal agencies are equal.

With a little research, you will know that you are working with an agency that is doing good and will support you in caring for any four-legged foster that comes into your home.


As the volunteer president of the Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada, Amy is committed to see a better life for animals in Canada. With a Master’s of Public Policy degree from SFU, Amy also works as the Executive Director of the Vancouver Humane Society in British Columbia and provides support to animal-related policy improvement projects across the country.