Fostering a shelter pet is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. By taking an animal in need temporarily into your home, you’re:

  • Freeing up a spot in the shelter for another animal.
  • Giving your foster the time he needs to be ready for adoption.
  • Helping APS learn more about the foster so he can end up in the best home possible.
  • Socializing the foster to a home environment and possibly getting him used to being around other pets and different types of people.

About the APS Foster Program

APS tries to put dogs and cats into foster homes after they have spent several weeks or months at the shelter without being adopted. This gives them a relief from shelter life and special adoption promotion, while providing space in for another animal. Additionally, the foster volunteer has the opportunity to work with their foster to help increase their chances of being happy in their new home.

Aside from regular day-to-day care (feeding, grooming, exercise), the responsibilities of a foster home may include basic training; behavior modification (to correct problems such as jumping, mouthing, barking, destructive chewing, dashing through doors); socialization and temperament evaluation (to determine whether the dog is good with different types of people and other animals); medical care (dispensing medication, taking the dog to vet appointments), and of course plenty of playtime and snuggling.

Some foster cats and dogs are adopted quickly and may only stay in their foster home for a few weeks, while others may be around for several months until they find their perfect forever home. APS will work with your specific needs to provide you with a foster that best suits your home (i.e. if you have children, other pets, have a fenced in yard, etc.). We will also provide you with information and support, crates, bowls, leashes, medicine, litter boxes, toys, etc.

Cats

Adult cats and older kittens who are passed their tiny, fluff-ball stage are most in need of foster homes – especially black cats who are notoriously the hardest shelter animal to find homes for. These adults and older kittens who have been at the shelter for two or more months are very often passed by as adopters choose tiny kittens and cats who stand out with bright, colorful coats. In a foster home these felines can get all the attention they deserve and a special advocate to tell adopters how amazing they are!

Dogs

Medium-to-large, adolescent dogs are prime candidates for foster homes. They may be overlooked at the shelter because they are too big, unruly, or ordinary-looking. They are past the adorable puppy stage, but still have plenty of puppy energy that needs an outlet. Given enough time, and some basic training, these dogs that might otherwise be euthanized for lack of space now have a chance at finding permanent, loving homes.

Fostering Puppies and Kittens

There is great need for kitten foster homes during “kitten season” (usually early spring-summer), and occasionally, we have young puppies in the shelter who need a few weeks of foster care until they’re old enough for spay/neuter surgery.

 

Finding a ‘Furever’ Home

Foster parents help to find ‘Furever’ homes by hanging posters at the shelter, workplace, and pet supply stores; attending adoption events; posting the cat or dog’s picture on websites; writing blogs; making videos; and simply spreading the word about their foster to anyone who will listen. Prospective adopters will have the opportunity to come and meet the animal in a home setting.

Why foster

Fostering a shelter pet may seem like a formidable task, but it’s a very tangible way to make a difference. Everyone benefits: The foster volunteer gets to spend time with a special foster, and the shelter gains space for another animal. The foster gets a break from shelter life and a second chance at becoming a cherished pet. The new owners get a companion that is better adapted to home life, and therefore has a better chance of remaining in the new home permanently.

Why not to Foster (Yes, you read it right!…)

Fostering requires a significant amount of time and dedication to providing a happy, safe, and healthy environment. Fostering can require an extra 1-3 hours per day that will have to fit into your schedule (walking/exercising, feeding, playing with, training and cuddling, promoting, etc.). Many of our volunteers work full-time and foster, so it’s certainly possible! However, if you are not ready to devote at least 1-3 hours a day to a new cat or dog, fostering is probably not for you. Introducing a foster to your household (both 2 and 4 legged family members) can be a challenge and takes time and patience to fully acclimate. If there are ever any issues, APS will help you work through them! If fostering sounds like too much for you, please see our volunteer page here for many other types of volunteer opportunities.

If you are interested in being an APS Foster Home, please contact the Volunteer Manager at volunteer@apsofdurham.org. The application is available for download above.

Can’t foster indefinitely? Be a weekend/overnight foster!

Many people may not be able to keep pets due to schedule, living situation, or both, but perhaps you’ve wanted to “borrow” a dog for the day, to take for a hike, a walk in the park, or just to hang out with! Borrow one of our APS dogs for a night, a weekend, or just a few hours!

A 2017 study from Arizona State University found that “Sleepover Programs” and similar foster programs, wherein animals can leave the shelter even just for a day or two, lowered stress levels. Lisa Gunter, a doctoral candidate studying behavioral neuroscience at the Canine Science Collaboratory in the Department of Psychology, began the project:

Anecdotally, people who took a dog home for a sleepover reported that after the dog settled down, it would immediately go for a long sleep.

“Is sleep potentially a component to their welfare?” Gunter said. “Getting good, uninterrupted sleep could benefit them as well. That could be one mechanism by which we’re seeing this reduction in cortisol. The dogs are getting a good night’s sleep. That’s something they can’t get at the shelter because they have a lot of noisy neighbors.”

Dogs are selected by shelter staff, giving priority to those that are most in need, and taking into consideration the location and activities you have planned for your day foster.

The dogs given priority include:

  • Animals that are very shy and need a period of socialization
  • Active dogs who would greatly benefit from a day to expend energy.
  • Dogs who have been in the shelter a long time and would greatly benefit from additional promotion.

For a dog to leave the shelter for an Adoption Event or Day/Weekend Foster, the dog must be available for adoption, spayed or neutered, and be healthy (not on any medication). Going out for the day gives dogs the opportunity to have an update on their webpage, a blog, more pictures and a video. The dogs first to be considered for Day/Weekend Foster will be dogs who have been here a while, but have not had the opportunity to receive this additional promotion.

If you are interested in Day or Weekend Fostering, please email Annika, Foster Program Manager, by the end of the day on Tuesday with at least three dogs you would be interested in taking out. That will give APS Staff time to evaluate your choices, spay or neuter them, and have one of your choices ready when you come to pick up.

You may let Annika know later in the week that you’d like to Day/Weekend Foster, but the choices of dogs available to go will be limited to dogs who are already ready to go out. APS Management Staff must approve any dog leaving the shelter each time the dog leaves the shelter. We will only know which dogs are still available for adoption after 2pm on Saturdays. If Annika knows you intend to Day/Weekend Foster, she will confirm with you which dog is available to go with you after 2pm on Saturdays. If you are picking up Saturday afternoon, please check in with Annika first.

Dogs are able to leave the adoption floor between 2pm on Saturdays and 10am on Mondays when we are closed to the public. We want adoptable dogs available to be seen in our adoption center when we’re open. Day/Weekend Foster Volunteers are able to take their approved dog out for a few hours, overnight, or for two nights during these hours between Saturday and Monday. On Saturdays and Sundays staff leaves the shelter at 4pm. If you have your Day/Weekend Foster after 4pm on these days, you must keep them overnight.