Please join our foster care program. Some of our pets can really use your help!
Foster homes are an integral part of the operations at Northeast Animal Shelter. Not only do they clear space at the shelter allowing us to take in more pets in need, but foster homes provide animals with decompression time in a home, and one-on-one attention, preparing them for adoption.
Your time as a foster parent will provide guidance and structure for your foster pet, but will also give you a chance to acclimate to having a pet companion in your home, without the permanent commitment. Fostering is a wonderful way to understand what kind of animal will fit your family's needs.
3/16/2019: We have many foster homes for felines so our application process is suspended. Please check back later.
3/16/2019: We are in need of foster homes for pregnant canines and for shy, nervous, high arousal, reactive, or resource guarding teens and adult dogs. Most commonly these are dogs 30-70 lbs.
Foster parents should live within a reasonable driving time of the shelter, since pets may need to be transported back and forth for medical care or to meet prospective adopters. Foster parents should ideally not leave an animal home alone for more than 3 hours at a time, at least to start. All medical and food expenses will be covered by Northeast Animal Shelter.
Answers to frequently asked questions can be found below and will help you understand what more is expected of foster caregivers.
If you are interested in becoming a foster caregiver, please complete our Online Foster Care Application.
Behavior Fosters Needed!
You could truly make a difference to our homeless pets. While most of our pets are eagerly waiting to find their forever families with wagging tails and loud purrs, some of our pets are not quite sure what to make of it all. Some of these pets may have had to face challenges before they came into our care and some of them just don’t know what love is. These special pets need you!
If you’d like to become a foster care provider for some of our behaviorally quirky guests please apply today!
Some challenges you may face are pets who have never been socialized or handled by humans. These are generally cats or young kittens that were found outdoors or were from hoarding situations or dogs that haven’t had the opportunity to live indoors and be shown what being part of a loving family is like. Other traits you may help with would be resource guarding, reactivity to other animals or strangers, or fear based reactions.
For each of these fosters you help with you will meet with our behaviorist or trained staffed prior to taking the pet(s) home with you. You may need to come in and spend time with the pet a couple times here or on a field trip to help with the transition into your home.
These types of foster opportunities are generally for about 2 weeks but could be longer. We also have opportunities for “sleepovers” or “weekend get-a-aways”.
Fill out our online application today so you can start helping right away.
What is a foster home?
A foster parent provides a temporary home for pets that need a little "extra care" before going to their new home. Sometimes the foster home is the first stable and loving environment the pets have ever experienced. Foster parents have the unique opportunity to personally help our rescued animals.
Why are foster parents needed?
Some animal shelters are forced to euthanize dozens of healthy and friendly animals each day to make space for the new ones coming into the shelter. Northeast Animal Shelter is a no-kill shelter. We are contacted every week by individuals and organizations wanting our help to save the pets in their care. Many of these pets are highly adoptable. Simply put, foster parents maximize the number of pets who can be saved.
Why should I become a foster caregiver?
Would you feel good knowing you are making a difference, in the life of a displaced pet? A few months of inconvenience turns quickly into a rewarding, educational, challenging, and fun experience you will never forget.
Fostering can be rigorous, but it is always rewarding! Fostering also helps us evaluate the pet so we can provide as much information as possible to help us place the pet in the perfect home. Foster caregivers must be 21 years of age or older. If you rent a house or apartment, we will contact your landlord for verification of his or her permission for you to have pets temporarily. Some foster caregivers will use a spare bedroom, bathroom, laundry room for their foster pets.
But, you should understand that choosing to be a foster caregiver is a serious undertaking. It will change your routine and your own companion animals will need to be okay with it. Fostering is a very rewarding experience for everyone involved. Not only do foster caregivers nurture and care for their charges, they really "share" the experience with the pets.
What is involved?
Being a foster caregiver involves feeding, cleaning, grooming, and playing with the animals. Sometimes, however, that's just the tip of the iceberg for fosters. Because many rescued animals are sick, stressed, or frightened, they may require special care. A frightened animal may require weeks of extra attention and behavioral modification to become ready for adoption.
Fostering a pet in need of shelter, love, and guidance is a time-consuming effort, but it's also one of the most rewarding ways to help homeless pets. Providing a "stepping stone" for animals in search of permanent homes saves lives, alleviates the strain on animal shelters, helps set the stage for successful adoptions, and teaches you the skills that will enable you to help other animals in need.
Will my household and lifestyle be a good fit?
The health and welfare of all individuals in your home — human and animal — must be considered before bringing in another creature. Fostering a homeless pet should never be considered unless your home environment is happy, safe, healthy, and spacious enough to nurture the foster pet adequately and retain sanity among the existing members of your home. If any of your family members have allergies, excessive stress, other physical or mental health issues, career instability, financial difficulties, or housing or space restrictions, fostering is not a good option for you at this time.
But if you believe you have the ability to foster, and the entire household agrees that fostering would be a positive experience, your next question should be "Do I have the time?"
Fostering a shelter pet is a 24/7 job. Although you may not be physically interacting with the pet every second of the day, you will be responsible around the clock for the pet's safety, comfort, and general well-being, and this responsibility alone can be exhausting.
If your work or family schedule is already so hectic that adding another time-consuming responsibility will only create more stress, do not consider fostering at this time.
The amount of personal attention needed will vary greatly from pet to pet, but you can expect to spend anywhere from three to seven hours a day interacting with a foster pet, and even more if you're planning to foster puppies or kittens. Teaching dogs or cats the lessons they will need to become happy, thriving, lifelong members of another family is the essence of fostering, and this takes time and patience.
Can I keep the pet I foster if I want to?
It is only natural to become attached to a pet you take care of and nurture. If you do fall in love with a foster pet, we can assist you through our adoption process. We would hope you will still volunteer to foster other pets in the future.
Do I get to choose the pet I foster?
This is not very likely. We will place a pet based on need, temperament, and matched to your abilities.
What about expenses?
Northeast Animal Shelter will cover the cost of veterinary care, food, and supplies.
Veterinary care is paid for by NEAS, provided you take your foster pet to a pre-approved veterinarian. We have established relationships with individual area veterinarians and they provide certain services for us at a lower rate. In case of emergency, you would need to check with the Shelter before seeking any medical care.
We may request that certain foods be fed to your foster pet. Sometimes a pet will not eat at first, s/he may be frightened or nervous. Eventually s/he will eat. For the same reasons, s/he may have diarrhea in the beginning. Feed a bland diet and monitor the stool for changes. We ask that you keep us up to date on any issues that may occur during their stay with you.
Will I have difficulty letting go?
Anyone who fosters must be realistic about the expected outcome: the pet will be adopted by another family. While it is impossible not to become attached to a sweet dog or cat living in your home, it's necessary to keep your original goals in mind and remain committed to finding the pet a new family.
Of course it can be a difficult process for you to let them go, but keep this in mind: Once one rescue has found a good home, that opens up a space for another one to be saved.
Maybe you are thinking...
Oh, I could NEVER do that! I could NEVER give up the pet! Well, we know how you feel, because we all feel the same way. Admittedly, it is not painless, you do cry, and you miss them. Yet, we promise, the pain disappears when another NEW pet arrives from the shelter that NEEDS you.The pain is fleeting compared to the wonderful feeling of knowing that YOU truly are saving more than one pet's life by allowing us to have enough foster homes.
I already own a dog and a cat. Can I still foster?
We ask that you keep a foster cat separate from your own pets. Foster dogs may be allowed to interact with your own pets. Before you bring a foster animal home, consult with your veterinarian to make sure your own pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations. You may wish to ask your veterinarian if your pets need any additional vaccinations.
What happens when I arrive home with my new foster pet?
When introducing a pet to a new environment, do so gradually. Remember that the pet might be frightened and could bite, run away, scratch, or cower in a corner. Depending on the pet and his/her history, there may be incidents of housebreaking issues, spraying, damage, and/or barking. Please be forewarned and “animal proof” your home.
If you have children, we request that you monitor their contact with a foster pet at all times. We cannot guarantee any pet’s behavior and this will help to protect both the child and the pet. Foster pets are under a lot of stress and do best in a quiet environment.
NO FOSTER PET IS ALLOWED OUTSIDE UNATTENDED OR UNRESTRAINED. If you feel you cannot go along with this, you should not foster because the foster animal’s life will be compromised. NO CAT SHOULD EVER BE ALLOWED OUTSIDE FOR ANY REASON UNLESS IT IS IN A CARRIER.
Pets do die. This is a reality of being involved in this kind of work. If you take a sick pet and there is a concern about its future, you must be prepared for his/her possible death. If you cannot handle this, please say so.
Cat Fosters: Common Foster Situations
We see many cats or kittens that are found outdoors. Because they can't talk, we can only guess at their history. These are common situations that cats or kittens would need a foster home for:
Pregnant or nursing moms: These special kitties would need to live in your home for 8-16 weeks. We can't always tell when a pregnant mom will deliver but once the kittens arrive they need to be with you until they are 8-10 weeks old. You would bring them to the shelter when they are 6 weeks old for vaccines and deworming then take them back home for another 2 weeks until they are ready to find new homes. Mom will need another 2 weeks after the kittens have returned to the Shelter for her milk to dry up then she'll be ready to be spayed and find her new home.
Orphaned kitten(s): These Pee Wees are usually found by someone outside when a mother cat is no where to be found. They will need to be home with you until they are 8-10 weeks old. They need someone home with them more often than not because they need to be bottle-fed every couple of hours. Depending on how old they are, you may need to help them to go to the bathroom for the first few weeks. Around 4-5 weeks old you'll start teaching them how to eat and where to find the litter box. Fostering Pee Wees is very rewarding but can be risky, depending on their health, and a lot of work.
Unsocialized kitten(s): Sometimes we like to call these babies "spittens". They will need to be with you for 2-6 weeks. They are generally between 4-16 weeks old and haven't experienced people before. They need someone home with them more often than not as they learn what love is. You need to spend time petting them and teaching them how to play. They start off very fearful and often hiss and spit at you but eventually you will hear them purr and see them relax as they learn that affection is a good thing.
Medical Recovery: These cats or kittens are often recovering from a surgical procedure such as spaying or neutering. They will be with you for about 2 weeks. They can also be being treated for conditions such as diabetes or upper respiratory infection. They may require medication 1-3 times per day or other specialized care.
Finishing School: Sometimes a mother cat needs a break from her babies. These kittens are usually about 6-7 weeks old and will need to stay with you for about 2 weeks. These pee wees are still learning how to consistently use the litter box and love to be rambunctious!
Dog Fosters: Common Foster Situations
Many of our dogs come to NEAS through our Saving Homeless Pets Across America Program. These dogs are rescued from high kill shelters, found on the side of the road or in dumpsters, or even from individuals who have more than 50 dogs on their property. We partner with shelters and rescue groups across the US but the majority of these dogs are coming from rural areas in the South. Most often there is no information about their background and because they can't talk we need to get to know them as we meet them. Some arrive happy and eager to find new homes. Others are shy, nervous, or scared. Then there are other who have never lived indoors and just have no manners and no idea why we ask them to. These are some of the common situations our dogs may need a foster home for:
Pregnant or nursing mothers:
Finishing School: Young pups
Adoption Ambassadors: Longer term stays
Roving Rovers: Field Trips
Weekend getaways/Overnight stays:
Dogs with fear-based behaviors:
Dogs with resource guarding behaviors:
Dogs with high arousal behaviors:
Dogs with reactive behaviors:
To become a foster parent for dogs or cats, please fill out our
We can save so many more cats and dogs if we have YOUR help.