How to become a foster pet parent

Do you love pets but aren’t sure if you’re ready to be a full-time pet mom? Fostering a pet is a great way to test the waters of pet ownership while helping a four-legged friend in need.

Woman with foster dog

Foster programs provide a stepping stone toward helping loving animals find “forever” homes. Whether you are thinking of easing into permanent pet adoption or simply have a heart for companion animals, follow these tips on becoming a foster pet parent to get started.

Do your research

Contact local shelters and rescue groups in your area. Online resources like can help in your search for qualified organizations. If you have a specific breed in mind, chances are there is a rescue group dedicated to that breed. Visit adoption events to speak with current foster parents to get a firsthand account of the organization and the program offerings. Make sure you speak to the person in charge of the foster program to get the details.

Some questions to ask:

  • What does the application process entail?
  • What is provided by the organization?
  • How long will the pet reside in my home?
  • What am I accountable for?

How to apply

Most organizations require potential foster parents to fill out an application and attend a volunteer information session. Once your application is accepted, the chosen organization will send a representative to your home to ensure it is a healthy and positive environment for a pet. Specific qualifications vary depending on the organization and type of pet you will be fostering.

Some things to consider before applying:

  • How much time can I dedicate?
  • What is the maximum I can budget on pet supplies?
  • Are there any lifestyle implications that may cause stress to the pet in need?
  • What type of pet is my home/lifestyle suitable for?
  • Am I willing to care for an animal with special needs?

What to expect

As a foster pet parent, you’ll be in charge of saving a pet’s life by helping them find a “forever” home. The rewards that come from helping homeless pets are priceless. It is important to keep in mind that many rescued pets awaiting a home have suffered traumatic experiences and will need lots of time and TLC before they are comfortable with you or others. Additionally, some pets may suffer from health issues or have special needs that require extra attention. Make sure you know the details before taking in a pet that you will not be able to care for. It is normal for a foster parent to become attached to a pet, so ask your organization about their policies on permanent adoption for foster parents in order to avoid heartache and confusion.

Watch: An amazing shelter dog rescue story

Watch the story of how an ill-mannered former shelter dog, Vinny Love, transforms into a wonderful companion with talent!

More on rescue pets

Advantages of adopting shelter dogs
5 Reasons why you should adopt an aging dog
Top 5 reasons to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or rescue group