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Out of the Cage! The Blog of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals

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(Photo by Dana Edelson)

Photo by Dana Edelson

Foster a Pet

Foster volunteers provide temporary care for dogs, cats, or rabbits in their homes, offering these pets much-appreciated time in a real home setting instead of a shelter or boarding facility while they await adoption. Most animal shelters and rescue groups are always looking for committed and reliable foster volunteers to care for animals in their homes while they await permanent homes. In fact, many rescue groups rely exclusively on volunteer foster homes because they do not have a shelter facility to house their animals.

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.

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?

Most rescue organizations pay for a foster pet's medical care — generally with a particular veterinary facility with which it has a relationship. They also usually pay for food and supplies, although many foster volunteers kindly pay for some or all food and supplies out of choice.

Purchase an Adopt Me Vest

An Adopt Me Vest lets potential adopters know your foster dog is available for adoption every time you take him or her on a walk. Vests are available in small, medium, and large sizes.

Finding a Permanent Home…and Letting Go

Generally, the shelter or rescue group for which you are fostering will seek a permanent home for your foster pet. However,most rescue organizations welcome your 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.

Who Can Match Me With a Foster Pet?

Animal Shelters & Rescue Groups

New York City area animal shelters and rescue groups take in dogs and cats (and sometimes other animals) from the public or the streets, and/or pull animals from Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) for adoption. Many of these organizations have active volunteer foster programs to provide temporarily care and TLC for their animals while they await adoption.

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) Organizations

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) community cat caretakers often remove kittens and friendly adult cats from the colonies they manage for adoption into indoor homes. Some of these groups use foster volunteers to provide general and specialized care for cats and kittens awaiting adopiton — including bottle-feeding and taming.

Foster Dogs

For more than a decade, Foster Dogs, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has provided foster support to NYC's animal rescue community by connecting shelters and rescue groups, adopters, foster caretakers, and other partners together in a shared mission to help animals in need.


911fosterpets serves as a matchmaking vehicle, connecting potential foster households with pets needing foster care. They also provide shelters with the tools they need to manage foster programs and volunteers.