Are you trying to decide whether fostering is the right option for you? Do you have questions about how the program works or the impact it has on animals in our community? Here are some commonly asked questions about pet foster care that will help answer your questions and guide your decision on whether or not this program is the right fit for you.

Q. Do you just need fosters for dogs? What type of pets need foster care?

  1. Lowell Humane Society sends many different types of animals into foster care for a variety of reasons! Our greatest foster needs are for cats recovering from URI and small animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits on pregnancy watch if they were previously housed with males. Other frequent foster needs include litters of kittens, unweaned kittens without a mom, litters of small animals like guinea pigs or hamsters who are still nursing, and pets requiring long-term treatment or care. We will occasionally send dogs to foster, but typically they need to go to a dog-free home as they are often working on a behavioral plan, or because they are long-term residents who are stressed by the kennel.

Q. Why would fostering be a better option for me than adopting?

  1. If you are someone who likes to travel, has a busy lifestyle, gets bored easily, is on a fixed income, or just loves helping animals in need, fostering could potentially be a better match for you than adoption. You can plan your fostering around vacations and trips, you can choose to foster animals whose needs match the pace of your lifestyle, you can try out living with different types of animals, the shelter covers the cost of medical care and provides all of the supplies, and it is one of the best ways to make the greatest impact on a large number of animals on a regular basis. 

Q. I am not sure if I have the space for a foster pet in my home. How do I know how much space they will need?

  1. All you need is a single room for your foster pet to be kept separate from your resident pets. An office, spare bedroom, heated mudroom, or even a large bathroom would work. We require your pets to be separated from the shelter animals because 1) proper intros between pets take much longer than what the typical length of foster is and 2) shelter animals are often in foster because they are being treated for illnesses that we don’t want your pet to catch.

Q. How long do animals typically need to be in foster care?

  1. The length of stay in foster varies based on the type of animal and the reason they are going to foster. Many cats go to foster for treatment for URI which is a two-week treatment, then they can be returned to the shelter. Litters of kittens need to stay in foster until they are weaned from their mom and 2.2 lbs for surgery which is roughly at 2 months of age. Pregnancy watches for guinea pigs are 72 days from the date they were separated from the male, and pregnancy watch for rabbits is 30 days. In rare cases, a pet could need foster care for 3-4 months if they are recovering from injury, waiting on major surgery, or receiving ongoing treatment.

Q. Is it hard to give back the pet? I am not sure I would be able to bring my animal back to the shelter.

  1. We won’t lie, it can be difficult for some people to return their foster pets once they are ready for adoption, but it is an important part of the process. We remind our fosters that they are an integral chapter in their foster pet’s life, but they can help so many more animals in need by allowing this pet to be adopted to another loving family that is unable to foster. There is a shortage of foster care homes and many animals who need this care. By opening up your home to more animals in need of healing, you are giving so many more animals a chance at life than if you were to just adopt your first foster. Some things that help are reading the happy tail adoption stories that we share on our Volunteer & Foster FB Group and receiving updates from staff on how your former foster is doing in their new home.

Q. What if I really want to keep my foster pet, can I keep them? 

  1. We encourage our foster families to foster three pets before they decide to adopt. However, if you really want to keep your foster and cannot imagine a life without them, we will of course allow you to adopt them. Our foster care program is not designed as a “foster to adopt” program as we invest staff time, donated resources, training hours, and more to ensure our foster families are prepared to be part of this program. It is expensive and time-consuming for us to continually replace fosters who leave or decide to adopt and can no longer foster, so we do not allow folks to participate in the program if their sole intention is adoption. 

Q. Will I be a good pet foster?

  1. Do you love helping animals? Are you willing to learn new things and communicate with staff about your foster pet? Do you have time to give a pet the attention and care they need? If your answer to those questions is “yes!” then you are on the right track to becoming an awesome foster parent!

Find out more about our Foster Care Program here.


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