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Photo by Dana Edelson

Foster an Animal

Foster parents provide temporary care for a dog or cat in their home, offering these pets much-appreciated time in a loving home instead of a shelter or boarding facility.

The Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals is always in need of kind, reliable foster caretakers. If you are interested in fostering, please read more below and submit a Volunteer Application.

Submit an Application

What is a Foster Home?

Foster volunteers open their homes and their hearts to pets who would otherwise be in a cage or a boarding facility. These volunteers care for dogs and cats as they await a permanent home.

Why Do Animals Need Foster Care?

While each case is unique, dogs and cats needing foster care through the Mayor's Alliance fall broadly into two categories:

Dogs and cats looking for a permanent home

The Mayor's Alliance is not a shelter, but we provide care for certain animals through our Picasso Veterinary Fund program. While these animals have received some form of medical care, they generally are either healthy or on the road to recovery by the time we place them in a foster home. Most of them are or will be available for adoption, and sometimes a foster family decides they want to adopt their foster dog or cat. But that is by no means an expectation. In fact, because foster volunteers play such a valuable role in transitioning animals from rescue to adoption, we generally prefer that they provide the necessary bridge to adoption for their foster animal, and then welcome another foster into their home.

Dogs and cats who are not homeless, but who need temporary care:

A pilot program of the Mayor's Alliance, Helping Pets and People in Crisis relies on volunteers who care for pets in their homes while the pet's family is experiencing difficult times (including domestic violence, eviction, or illness). By fostering a pet, you help to make sure the family can be reunited when the situation improves. 

How Much Time is Required?

The time required will vary depending upon the animal you foster. You will need to provide love and basic care for your foster dog or cat: feeding, walking for dogs, and play time. We are happy to talk with you to learn what pets you'll be best suited to foster.

What About My Own Pets?

You are in the best position to consider how your pets will react to a temporary new member of the household.  When you foster, it's especially important to keep your pets up-to-date with vaccinations. Your family's particular circumstances will dictate whether or not you'll allow your pets and foster dog or cat to interact.

What About Food and Medical Care?

The Mayor's Alliance pays for all medical care for foster pets it places into foster homes, and can provide assistance with supplies, including food. Although it's not required, many volunteers who foster kindly donate the food and basic supplies to care for their foster cat or dog.

Finding a Permanent Home…and Letting Go

The Mayor's Alliance will seek a permanent home for your foster pet. Finding an adopter is not your responsibility as a foster volunteer. However, you are welcome to help with this process by sharing news about your foster pet with family, friends, and co-workers.

For some people, letting go of a foster dog or cat at the end of the foster term is difficult. This is something you'll want to consider before taking on a foster pet. For most people who foster, any sadness they experience in saying goodbye to their foster pet is decidedly outweighed by the reward of knowing they played a critical role in the life of a dog or cat whose future is far better as a result of the love they gave and the help they offered at their moment of greatest need.