Give a Dog Shelter: Volunteer to Foster

Homless Pict

On any given day, dozens of dogs and cats in the Bay Area are put down because there is no room for them in county run facilities. Rescue groups do their best to save as many as possible, but they need your help. In addition to funding to help pay for veterinary care and supplies, they need volunteers who can care for dogs in their homes until a forever home can be found.

Fostering generally isn’t a long-term commitment. Rescue groups are experienced in recognizing dogs that are highly adoptable. Most of the time, within a few weeks (sometimes a few days) a new forever home can be found. Fostering often involves taking the dog to the vet to be spayed or neutered if it hasn’t already been, administering medication if needed, and almost always a good bath or visit to a groomer. Rescue groups want to show their dogs in the best light. Your willingness to take on these tasks and allowing the dog to be part of your home where it feels safe and secure helps aid in the dog’s ability to show well to prospective families.

Can I Choose What Dogs to Foster?

Most rescue foundations are quite willing to accommodate you when it comes to fostering. If you prefer small dogs, they will only place those with you. If you work at home, are retired or have a penchant for potty training, you can ask for puppies. Can’t commit to an unknown amount of time? That’s okay too. Many rescue foundations are in need of vacation coverage during which you take care of another person’s fosters for a designated number of days.

Six Fosters and Counting.

What is it like to be a foster mom? When a dog gets dropped off at your house or you pick one up from a rescue, it’s like having a toddler in the house, which requires patience and a lot of really good treats. Dogs that come from shelters—even the good ones—take a few days to relax and feel safe in their new surroundings. They may be shy or afraid and want to hide. Once they relax, they just want to be loved. There’s nothing more rewarding when the foster that has been hiding under the dining room table for two days suddenly drops a ball in your lap. Fostering is a short-term relationship, so the hard part is letting them go to their new forever home once a family has been vetted. The upside, besides knowing that you’ve made a family complete, is knowing that you saved two lives: the dog that you fostered, and the one you made room for at the shelter, who will hopefully get his chance in the foster system.

Partial List of Animal Rescue Organizations in the Bay Area:

ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation)
Valley Humane Society
1 Lucky Dog Rescue
Petaluma PetPals
East Bay Animal Rescue & Refuge
Four Paws Rescue
Maddie’s Fund
Milo Foundation
Tri-Valley Animal Rescue
Wonder Dog Rescue

Animal Life Saving 101:

Rescue Group: an authorized organization that pulls animals from kill shelters and supports animal fostering financially. Also, a safe place to surrender a pet.

Foster: a person or family that has filled out an application with a rescue organization to foster an animal that needs temporary shelter until a forever home can be found.

Advocacy: groups or individuals that bring attention to animals that are out of time and in danger of being killed by animal services.

Sponsor: donates money to rescues to save animals.

Adopter: makes an animal part of their family through a forever home adoption.