Thinking About Being a Foster Parent?

As an Open Door facility, Humane Animal Rescue turns away no animal in need. This results in an overabundance of cats, kittens, dogs, puppies, and small animals; especially during the warmer months. Thousands of homeless animals enter our shelters each year and many any are not quite ready for adoption and require the love and care of a foster family to prepare them for their forever home.

We depend on a unique and dedicated group of foster volunteers to help us save more lives! By fostering a homeless animal, you can experience the joys of being a pet parent without the lifetime of responsibility.

Fostering Involves:

  • Having your current pets up to date on vaccinations.
  • Having spare space for foster animals to be separate from your own pets (possible for up to several months).
  • Having enough free time to set aside for your fosters. We expect you to spend at least an hour every day with your fosters.
  • Being able to reliably transport fosters back and forth to shelter when necessary.
  • Being able to let go. It can be very difficult to let go once you have become emotionally attached to the animals. Know that the love you give means they are more
  • likely to find a forever home!
  • Being patient. The first day probably won’t be perfect. It will get easier!

Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh Provides:

  • All necessary medication and medical care
  • Food and litter (when donations are available)
  • Education on how to care for your foster animal

You Provide:

  • A safe and nurturing environment for your foster animal
  • Socialization for shy animals
  • A chance for sick animals to recover

Common Fostering Questions

The length of foster care depends on a variety of factors; including age and health of the animal and open space at the shelter. Typically, foster care lasts approximately two weeks to two months. When we release an animal to a foster home, we determine an approximate amount of time needed, and we ask that, barring any major problems, the foster home keeps the animal for the required time until the animal is deemed adoptable.

Remember, take on only what you can personally handle! For most of us, life is very busy. Consider how much time you are able to devote to a foster animal(s). In addition to daily care (medicating, socializing, and cleaning), the foster will have scheduled, and sometimes unscheduled, trips to the shelter for medical checkups.

Not every animal is eligible for, or needs, foster care. Animals available for foster care are those animals we expect to become adoptable upon completion of a term in a foster home. Here are some of the reasons we send animals to a foster home:

  • Young puppies and kittens, even those with their mothers, are sent into foster care because they are highly susceptible to diseases that are present in an institutional setting, such as an animal shelter
  • An animal needs to recover from a minor medical issue. This can include: wounds, minor injuries, URI, or weight gain.
  • An animal has a behavior “problem” that can be improved upon by proper handling and socialization.
  • At times, our shelter becomes overloaded with animals. We will send animals into foster homes to ease overcrowding and alleviate stress on the animal.

Note: Only animals designated by the Foster Coordinator will be eligible for the foster care. You may not ask staff to release an animal to you that has not been specifically designated for the foster care program.

Yes! Your pets at home must be up to date on all vaccinations and we ask that you have a spare room or an area in your home where you can keep your foster animals separate from your own pets.

Once your application has been accepted by our Foster Manager, you will complete a foster training session. After that, you will be added to the Foster Email group to receive notifications when foster homes are needed. The process is as follows:

  • Staff members will notify the Foster Department of the need for a foster home once the animal has been evaluated for age, health, and behavior status.
  • The Foster Coordinators will reach out to all fosters via email with details about the animal.
  • If a foster parent believes that their home is a good match, the foster will then contact the appropriate Foster Coordinator.

You and the Foster Coordinator will then arrange a time for you to pick up the animal(s) from the shelter. We will not release a foster animal without an appointment. You will sign a contract for every foster assignment at pick up; you will receive a copy of this contract along with all applicable paperwork for the animal.

Note: Foster animals must stay in the foster’s immediate care and residence. If you cannot care for your foster animal for the entire length of the foster agreement, please notify the Foster Department as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements.

All animals at our shelters receive routine medical care from our team of veterinarians and veterinary technicians. It is your responsibility to keep track of your foster animal’s treatments and medications. You will be given a full medical history when you pick up your foster animal(s) and medical timeline to follow to ensure the animal is being properly vaccinated and treated while in your care.

Some of the animals placed into foster care require consistent training to ready them for new lives with permanent families. We are committed to helping our foster parents work on any known or unforeseen behavior issues that may arise with their temporary guests and our foster coordinators are always just a phone call or email away. Visit our behavior resources section for tips for advice on caring for that fearful feline or to ensuring that Fido is a “good dog.”

Being a foster parent is an incredibly rewarding and important job, but can be emotionally difficult. You will become attached to your foster animal(s) and it can be difficult to give them up. Although you might be sad, the new pet owners will be excited and happy about finding a new companion! Celebrate that your foster has found its forever home.

Just remember, as a foster parent, you are giving a very special gift to all the animals you care for and love – a second chance at a full and wonderful life.


Make a Difference!

Your gift today will help save an animal’s life. We rely on donations from friends like you to rescue, shelter, and find homes for pets. Please be as generous as you can to help us give them the care they need and the love they deserve.


Care They Need.
Love They Deserve.


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