Q&A: Why Should I Foster a Pet?

Fostering a pet is a rewarding experience for animal lovers.

It means opening your heart to an animal in need and providing a safe and stable environment that feels more like a real home than a shelter.

VS-Photograph_20240523_GDS_MMARS_002_©MuttMisfitsAnimalRescueSociety copy-1Photo © Mutt Misfits Animal Rescue Society

Just like people, pets need a place to feel secure, relax, and let their guard down. 

In a foster home, pets do not have to worry about where their next meal will come from, whether they will face potential threats from other animals, or if they will be warm and dry. 

Fosters are not just temporary caregivers. They are the stepping stones to a pet's forever home. They play a crucial role in teaching pets what it is like to eat, sleep, and play in a safe environment. This allows their true characters to emerge, paving the way for successful, permanent adoptions.

Why is fostering important?

VS-Photograph_20240508_GDS-BI_NexGardPLUS_Acorn_001_©LASPCA copy
Photo © LA SPCA
VS-Photograph_20240317_GDS_Purina_Chewy_ElReno_001_©ElRenoAnimalShelter copy
Photo © El Reno Animal Shelter
VS-Photograph_20240410_GDS_SummerleeFoundation_MHHS_002_©MohawkHudsonHumaneSociety copy
Photo © Mohawk Hudson Humane Society
VS-Photograph_20240322_NSAW_RoyalCanin_HSGD_002_©HumaneSocietyofGreaterDayton copy
Photo © Humane Society of Greater Dayton


  • Saves Lives: Shelters often operate at full capacity and struggle with limited resources. By fostering, you help them save more pets.
  • Reduces Stress: Shelters, despite their best efforts, can be stressful due to noise, confinement, and activity. A foster home offers a peaceful environment that improves a pet's well-being.
  • Improves Adoption Chances: Foster pets are more adoptable. Caregivers provide personalized attention, helping pets become socialized and trained.
  • Gives Pets a Second Chance: Fostering lets pets experience love and care.
  • Fulfills a Temporary Need: Fostering is ideal for those who love animals but cannot commit to a permanent pet due to travel, work, or other life circumstances. It also allows them to enjoy companionship without a long-term commitment.

how do Dogs Benefit from Fostering?

VS-Photograph_20240416_GDS_TABR_001_©TornadoAlleyBulldogRescue copy
Photo © Tornado Alley Bulldog Rescue

Fostering makes a significant difference in the lives of canines, especially ones with unique needs. 

  • Nursing Moms: They need quiet and safe places to care for their babies without fear of predators or environmental challenges.
  • Motherless Puppies: From neonates to toddlers learning to play, young pups need an extra set of eyes while they grow healthy enough to be adopted.
  • Sick and Injured Dogs: Pups heal and recover quicker in a home environment than in a shelter. Having a quiet, safe home where they can relax and be loved allows their immune system to focus on their body’s needs.
  • Stressed Dogs: Adult dogs often struggle to make the sudden adjustment from home life to a kennel. There are strange sounds and smells, their favorite blanket is gone, the food is different, and there is no doggie door to go outside. Fostering is the opportunity for them to stabilize while their foster parent searches for a forever home.
  • Hospice Dogs: No pet should spend the end of its life in a shelter environment. There is nothing like the comfort of a home. A hospice home keeps terminally ill or senior dogs comfortable.

How can I Become a Foster?

  • Contact Local Shelters and Rescue Groups: Start by reaching out to local animal shelters and rescue organizations. They often have foster programs that provide necessary information and requirements.
  • Understand the Commitment: Depending on the pet's needs, fostering can range from a few days to several months. Be prepared for the time and effort required to care for a pet, including feeding, grooming, and medical care.
  • Prepare Your Home: Ensure your home is safe and pet-friendly. Remove any hazards and set up a comfortable space for the foster pet. Gather supplies such as food, water bowls, bedding, toys, and litter boxes for cats.
  • Learn About the Cat or Dog: Get as much information as possible about the pet you will be fostering. Understand their medical history, temperament, and any special needs they might have.
  • Provide Care and Socialization: Foster pets need love, attention, and basic training. Spend time socializing them with people and, if possible, other animals. This helps them become well-adjusted and ready for adoption.
  • Stay in Contact with the Shelter: Maintain regular communication with the shelter or rescue group. They can provide support, answer questions, and offer resources such as veterinary care and food if needed.
  • Promote the Pet for Adoption: Help the shelter by promoting the foster pet through social media, word of mouth, and adoption events. Your insights and experiences with the pet can be invaluable in finding them a forever home.
  • Prepare for Goodbye: Saying goodbye can be the hardest part of fostering. Remember that by letting go, you are making room for another pet in need. Celebrate the successful adoption and the role you played in giving the pet a new life.

how can I help pets in need in addition to fostering?

Greater Good Charities works year-round to support pets in need. We renovate shelter spaces and provide critical food and supplies, medical support, training, and pet transport nationwide.

Your donations help these initiatives and send aid to shelter pets in need.