Foster a Cat or Dog
Help provide a safe space for pets to begin their new, happy lives.
Animal House Shelter would not exist without foster homes. Our foster families save pets who are too young to be adopted yet, elderly, recovering from surgery, scared or depressed. Fostering, is a selfless, compassionate and generous commitment and we recognize that.
As foster parents to the cats and dogs of our facility, you provide the love and stability they need. We thank you for that!
Save a Life
When you foster a pet, we have room to bring another pet to our no-kill shelter. You’re saving two lives!
Free Food & Medical
We provide you with all the food and supplies you need. We take care of all their medical needs as well.
Perfectly Paired Pets
After you fill out your foster application, our foster home coordinator works with you to find the right pets for your home.
Why Foster an Animal?
- Fostering allows us to save even more lives by allowing us the space to rescue another animal from animal control before they are euthanized.
- Fostering a dog or cat is a fun and rewarding experience that the whole family can participate in and receive unconditional love in return.
- We cover the cost of all of the medical needs, food, bowls, playpens, litter boxes, cages ect while you are fostering so there is no cost to the foster home.
- You are keeping the animal in a safe, quiet environment while they get all of their booster vaccines so they won’t get sick.
- We receive over 300 emails a day pleading for our help to rescue hundreds of cats and dogs! The more people willing to become a fosters, the more animals lives we can save every day!
“If someone asks me why I foster and spend all this time on these dogs the answer is… pure love. I may only be one part of their journey but I am saving many lives. The dogs give me so much unconditional love and loyalty in the short time I have them, its the least I can do. My favorite part of fostering is adoption day. I love meeting their new families and sending them home. Bittersweet yes, but its worth my heartache knowing they are safe and going home.”
Typical Steps to Become a Cat or Dog Foster Parent
- Fill out the foster care application form.
- Our foster home coordinator will contact you as soon as we process the application to discuss what type of foster animal may work well in your family.
- Once the animal arrives, we will notify you when you should arrive at the shelter to pick up the animal and we will give you everything you need to take them home that day!
- Love and care for your foster animal.
- If fostering a kitten or puppy, they will need to come back to the shelter every 15 days for booster vaccines and go to our vet clinic for neutering on a specified day & time.
- If fostering an adult dog or cat, you would need to be able to bring them back to the shelter to meet potential adopters.
- Return the animal to the shelter to find their permanent home through adoption.
Frequently Asked Questions About Fostering a Pet
What are the requirement's to become a foster?
- Before applying to be a foster, ensure all family members are in agreement with fostering a pet in need
- You must complete a foster application online.
- Be 21 years of age or older and be able to pick up foster pets at AHS
- You have an approved application and received a phone call from our foster care specialist, a copy of a current drivers license and credit card and a signed foster agreement, prior to picking up their first foster animal.
- All foster homes must be open to a “home check” and willing to apply for a IDOA Foster Home License (This is required by IL state law – there is a $25 fee payable to Illinois Department of Agriculture and you receive your license)
What types of animals are available to foster?
- Pregnant/nursing dogs and cats
- Lots of litters of orphaned puppies and kittens until they can be spayed/neutered (per state law, litters of animals must be kept together until they are at least 8 weeks of age)
- Animals needing extra socialization
- Dogs and cats that have medical or surgical needs
- Dogs or cats that have had longer stays in the shelter
- Elderly, depressed or scared animals.
Will it cost me anything to care for the animal?
We cover the cost of all of the medical needs, approved veterinarian visits, food, bowls, playpens, litter boxes, cages ect while you are fostering so there is no cost to the foster home.
How long will I typically care for my foster?
We have both cat and dogs, who are available for either short-term or long-term care.
This depends on each individual animal(s). Most kittens/puppies need to continue in foster care until they have been altered, vaccinated and ready for adoption. This typically takes 4-6 weeks with frequent appointments at the shelter and our local vet clinic.
In a long-term foster home, it is up to the family/individual as to how long they/you will foster the dog or cat. Ideally, the dog or cat would reside in the foster home until they are adopted. This could be anywhere from a week to several months. Requirements of fostering a long term dog or cat would include bringing the dog or cat to AHS for potential adoption visits. We do our best to accommodate the foster family and potential adopter for the best day and time to meet.
What if I have pets?
You will need to have a safe space in your home where you can keep the foster animals separate from your own pets for the duration of their care if fostering young puppies or kittens that have not received all of their vaccines yet. When fostering an adult dog or cat that is up to date on all of their vaccines already, we will need to introduce any current dog you have to the foster animal at the shelter to make sure they get along and they would not have to be kept separate at home. Your current dog or cat has to be spayed/neutered, current on distemper & rabies vaccines and Heartworm (dogs) or FeLV/FIV (cats) tested in order to foster.
What if the animal(s) need medical care?
AHS will pay for any approved medical care that is necessary for the animal(s). Most medical care will be done here at the shelter, but at times it may be necessary for you to bring the animals to one of our veterinarians for care (Crystal Lake and Algonquin areas). Most vaccinations, dewormings, etc will be done here at the shelter on specific schedules, so you will have to be able to bring them to the shelter for those scheduled appointments.
What if I have an after-hours emergency?
Don’t worry. There is a list of home contact numbers given to every foster home. The people on the list are all very experienced foster homes themselves and will be more than happy to answer any questions you have.
Who can become a foster parent?
Anyone! Even if you work full-time, you can still foster (depending on the needs of each individual animal(s). All you need is a desire to help animals in need. You do need to be located with one hour of the shelter’s location in case of emergency.
Can I "try-out" a foster animal for a few days?
Unfortunately we do not allow you to test drive the animal(s). Changing their environment frequently causes too much stress so we try to minimize that as much as possible.
If a situation arises with the animal you are fostering, please contact the shelter or anyone on the emergency contact list to discuss solutions.
What supplies will I need to foster an animal(s)?
This depends on each individual foster animal(s). You will need to have a safe space in your home where you can keep the foster animals separate from your own pets for the duration of their care. We will supply you with food/medications and most other necessary items to care for the animal(s).
What are some of the reasons an animal needs to be in foster care?
At any given time, we may need foster homes for cats and dogs for so many different needs. Below are some examples:
- The animal is recovering from medical conditions (e.g., a broken leg, heartworm treatments) and just needs a few weeks in a loving home to mend.
- Some animals might need help with training, medical issues, rehabilitation from surgery, behavior and/or socialization.
- Some animals are shy, scared and/or stressed in the shelter environment and need a quiet place to reside while they wait for their forever home.
- There may be adult dogs or cats that have stopped eating due to the stress of losing their family and need the security of a home situation to get back on her feet.
- The dog may have a minor behavior problem (jumping up, mouthiness) that a foster family can work on to make the animal more appealing to adopters.
- Young puppies and kittens that need to get all of their vaccines before being around other animals so they need to be isolated in a home environment so they won’t get sick.
Or the shelter may simply have a space crunch (especially during times of natural disasters like hurricanes or other emergencies) and need to find a short-term housing alternative for some of the animals.
Why do young puppies and kittens need to be fostered?
Young puppies and kittens cannot be housed at the shelter itself because they are vulnerable to becoming ill without any vaccines to protect them. Because of this, Animal House Shelter is only able to save as many puppies and kittens as we have foster homes available to take them. We need short-term foster homes (typically 4-6 weeks) to provide a healthy, germ-free environment and lots of tender, loving care to kittens and puppies or pregnant dogs or cats.
Animal House Shelter provides you with a playpen or kennel, food, bowls, newspaper, ect- anything you need. You will need to bring the puppy(s) back to the shelter on specified dates for vaccines as well as a neutering appointment at a specified date. We of course pay for the neutering and any other vet appointments that Animal House Shelter has agreed to. The animal can return to the shelter for adoption once all the vaccines and any medical procedures have been completed.
Why might an adult cat need to be fostered?
Every week Animal House Shelter has an average of 5 adult cats abandoned at our shelter. Some of these poor kitties are left in boxes on our front walk, some are thrown from cars in the street in front of our shelter and others are brought in to our facility.
These precious, loving creatures come to us scared and confused and they often become quickly depressed. They do not adapt well to losing their family and comforts of a home and they often become gravely ill because of this depression.
There is a bright side to this sad story, however, and that is the miracle of a FOSTER HOME! By offering one of these kitties a place to stay while we vaccinate them and booster those vaccinations you will be giving them a precious advantage that can truly mean the difference between life and death.
I'm worried I will fall in love with my foster pet!
If you decide that your foster pet should become a permanent family member in your home, it’s a wonderful thing! You will simply need to let your foster counselor know you would like to adopt your foster, fill out the adoption application, and pay the posted adoption fee.
With puppies/kittens, AHS needs to know if a foster home would like to adopt the animal 14 days before the date of adoption because that is when they are posted to the public for adoption.