Foster Homes and Why We Need Them

Foster homes provide temporary shelter and care for animals prior to adoption.  Providing foster care is a personally fulfilling way to contribute to saving homeless pets.

There are many reasons why foster homes are so important:

- Foster care can help save an animal’s life when the shelter is full.

- Some animals don’t do well in a shelter environment because they are frightened or need a little extra care.

  1. -Newborn animals that need to be nursed or bottle-fed usually need foster care.

  2. -Some animals need time to recover from an illness or injury before adoption.

Whatever the reason, these animals need some extra love and care before they can be adopted.  Providing foster care for a few days, weeks, or months can be a lifesaving gift for an animal.

Would I be a good foster?

If you want to do something to help the animals, fostering can be a flexible, fun and rewarding volunteer job. Here’s why:

- It’s more flexible than volunteer jobs that require you to show up at a specific time for a certain number of hours.

- It’s a great way to enjoy a pet if you are not in a position to make that lifetime commitment right now.

  1. -Would you like to add a dog or cat to your household, but you’re not sure?  Fostering can be a great way to find out.

Taking animals into your home, loving them, and then letting them go requires a special kind of person.  Your role as a foster parent is to prepare the animal for adoption into a loving home.

How much time will it take?

The specific needs of the animal will determine how much time is involved.  Newborn orphaned puppies and kittens, for example, must be fed every few hours.  A frightened animal will also require some extra time.  You can discuss this with the shelter staff to determine what type of animal you will be best suited to foster.

What skills are needed?

It’s best to have some knowledge about companion animal behavior and health, but training for you will be provided. Some of the animals most in need of foster care are those requiring a little extra help or some training.  Shy cats often need time to learn to trust and the quiet of a home environment. Dogs often benefit from a little obedience training, so if you familiarize yourself with some basic training techniques, you can be a big help in preparing your foster dog for a new home. Just by getting to know the animals, you will help Al-Van learn more about their personality prior to adoption.

What about needed medical care?

You will be given training and written information that will explain medical care and veterinary treatment for your foster animal.

What about my own pets?

You’ll want to consider how the animals in your household will adjust to having a foster pet.  Some animals do very well with a temporary friend and can help socialize the foster animal.  Other pets have a harder time with new animals being added to or leaving the family. You’re the best judge of your pet’s personality. For the safety of your pets and the foster animal, it’s important to keep your pets up-to-date on vaccinations. In many cases, the foster pet will need to be isolated from your own pets, either temporarily or throughout the foster period.

Will I have to find a home for the animal myself?

Al-Van Humane Society will take full responsibility for finding a new home, although, you can help by telling your friends, family and co-workers about your foster pet.  You will be asked to have your foster available to participate in local adoption events.

What about when it’s time to say good-bye?

Giving up an animal you’ve fostered, even to a wonderful new home, can be difficult emotionally. Some people like to be there when the pet goes home with the new family.  Seeing your foster animal ride off into the sunset will help you remember that he has found a loving new home. A lot of foster families get photos and updates of their old charge enjoying their new homes. Knowing you were part of saving a life and helping the animal find a loving home is tremendously rewarding. Sometimes a foster home turns into a permanent home. That’s why rescue, shelter, and humane organizations are always on the lookout for new foster homes!

But is it fair to the animals?

Some people are reluctant to foster animals because they are concerned that it is unfair to take in a dog or cat, establish a bond, and then allow the animal to be adopted out into another home. Isn’t that a second abandonment? Not at all! Being in a foster home can be a lifesaving bridge for a stray or frightened pet. It gives the animal a chance to get used to life in a house, and an opportunity to learn that people can be kind, food is available, and there is a warm, secure place to sleep. Foster care can help prepare a dog or cat for a new life in a permanent home. There’s no shortage of animals that need this preparation time before finding their own people.

How do I give fostering a try?

When you are ready, contact us at 269-637-5062.  There will be some training involved and some papers to sign, but you should be able to go home soon with a new foster animal. Foster parents make an enormous difference.  It is important, valuable work and best of all, it saves lives. To get the process started, just complete the foster program application below.

The volunteer team at Al-Van Humane Society is an essential component to the success of our shelter.  AVHS volunteers contribute in a variety of ways - they are an indispensable part of our community events, outreach programs, and the well-being and placement of animals in our care.

We rely on volunteers to staff meet and greets, assist with fundraising events, transport animals for spaying/neutering or adoption events, help with the day–to-day operation of the shelter such as clerical work and computer technology and so much  more.

Volunteering can work around your schedule and talents. Consider joining our dedicated group of volunteers and help animals - hands-on. 


If you are interested in becoming an Al-Van volunteer, just complete the application and one of our volunteer coordinators will contact you.