Foster Program


Fostering is an integral part to our organization and a special way to show your passion for helping animals. By providing a foster home, you are giving that animal a better chance for adoption while keeping it healthy, socialized, and out of the shelter.

Most importantly, by utilizing a dedicated volunteer network and foster homes to get animals rehabilitated and ready to be adopted, we can help animals that we would otherwise not be able to facilitate. It is through foster homes that more animals are given the chance at a life they deserve.

So apply online to become a foster parent, or download our paper application to fill out at home and bring in to the shelter. And don’t forget to download our Official Foster Manual for all the info you need!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why foster?

To save lives! Our foster homes helped save hundreds of animals last year alone.

I don’t really get the idea of fostering. How is it different from adoption, and how does it help the shelter?

Fostering is when you take certain animals, particularly ones that don’t flourish in a shelter environment, and you provide them with care until they are ready to be adopted. Animals that are commonly included in the foster program are young puppies or kittens that have easily compromised immune systems and older dogs or cats that have health issues or simply need a break from shelter life. By fostering, you help free up space in our shelter, making it possible for us to take in and save more lives!

I would like to foster, but I just don’t think I have the time. How long do animals stay in foster care?

Some animals may stay in foster care longer than others.  While you are encouraged to foster an animal as long as it takes for adoption, we also welcome fosters who are able to commit for shorter periods of time.   Even just a weekend away from the shelter can help provide a much needed break for some of our animals!

What are the benefits of fostering for the foster parent?

Fostering is incredibly rewarding for several reasons. First, there is no better feeling than seeing the animal you’ve cared for find their forever home. You also get to enjoy the companionship of an animal without the long term investment of adopting. Who doesn’t want to spend a few weeks cuddling up to a soft, cuddly dog or cat? But beyond that, fostering is also a great résumé-building activity. By deciding to foster, you can put on your résumé that you volunteered with a respected, local nonprofit organization.

I don’t think I can foster puppies or kittens, can I still help?

Of course! We have adult dogs and cats, and occasionally receive other animals like rabbits and birds,  that could greatly benefit from being out of the shelter.  Another alternative is to donate food, cat litter, or treats which we can provide to foster homes.

How am I supposed to let go of my foster animals once I’ve gotten so attached?

Sending a foster animal off to be adopted can be a very bittersweet process for foster parents. You build a relationship with your furry friends during the time you’re caring for them and it is hard to see them go. It’s important, however, to keep things in perspective.  When a foster animal gets adopted, you’re sure to experience some heartache, but helping an animal find their perfect forever home makes this sacrifice worth it.

I would love to foster an animal, but I don’t own my house. Can I still foster an animal if I rent?

The fact that you don’t own your home should not stop you from applying to be a foster parent. Many landlords allow pets, just make sure you aware of their policies (i.e. pet deposits, pet fee, breed/weight restrictions) before you put in your application.

What happens if the animal I’m fostering gets sick? Will I have to pay the vet bill?

No, you won’t. We have our own, qualified, resident veterinarian who is only a phone call away if your animal gets sick.  So long as you bring your animal to our vet, you don’t pay a dime. However, we cannot reimburse you if you take the foster animal to a different veterinarian.

Pet supplies and food can be expensive. Will I have to buy all of these supplies?

We can provide enough of the supplies to get you started: a crate, food bowls, a leash, and some food. However, after the initial period we ask that you cover the foster animal’s supplies.  But, of course, if you need assistance we are here to help!

I’m a huge animal lover, and would love to foster, but I already have pets of my own. Can I still foster if I already have pets?

In most situations, it’s okay to foster while you have animals. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, we strive to make sure each and every animal that goes to a foster home is totally healthy and vaccinated, but there is always a chance that your foster animal could be carrying a contagious illness.  As a result, you should allow your foster animal to interact with your personal pets at your own discretion. Additionally, keep in mind that, while we try to test the temperament of animals before we place them, there is always a chance that your foster animal and personal pets may simply not get along. If you aren’t comfortable taking these risks, we encourage you to simply keep your foster animal separate from your personal pets.

Will I get to choose the type of animal I foster?

Yes! You can take care of all sorts of animals: nursing mothers, orphaned infants, injured and/or sick, and under-socialized.  We have foster animals for all levels of pet ownership experience.

What if I decide I want to adopt my foster animal? Is that allowed?

It is very common for foster parents to fall in love with their foster animal and adopt. Certainly, we are in the business of finding good homes for our animals, and would be glad to allow you to adopt if you are a good fit.  However, it is all too common that foster parents foster once, adopt, then never foster again. Please try to remember what a crucial role you play as a foster parent here at PAWS. Even if you “foster fail” (meaning you adopt your foster animal), don’t let that stop you from continuing to foster with us.

If you can help by fostering, apply online. If you can help by donating food or litter to a foster home, please contact the shelter at 859-988-9800, or email

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