Could Fostering be a Fit For You?

Each year our foster parents save the lives of hundreds of animals by giving them a second chance.

Some of the animals brought to the Lakeland Animal Shelter have special needs. They may be sick, injured, scared, or pregnant. Some are simply too young to thrive in a shelter environment. To give these animals the best chance of finding a new home, we place them in volunteer foster homes until they’re ready to return to the shelter to go up for adoption.

As a foster parent, you might take care of a litter of kittens for weeks or months, or you might bring home a dog that is undergoing treatment for heartworm and needs a calm place to stay. You might take care of an older cat being treated for an upper respiratory infection or a dog or cat that has had a traumatic injury and needs a temporary home to recover in after orthopedic surgery. Whatever the situation, our foster families make a world of difference to homeless pets at our shelter every day.

The amount of time and effort required of foster volunteers varies greatly, depending on the needs of the animal(s) being fostered. Some animals will need no more care than an existing family pet. Other animals require more -- such as a litter of 2-week-old kittens that must be bottle-fed every 2-3 hours or a cat who must be given medication twice a day.

If you decide are interested in becoming foster parent for our shelter, our staff will help you decide what level of commitment you are able to make and what types of animals you can handle. Some foster families only work with kittens, while others only work with under-socialized dogs. Some foster families are able to take any animal, no matter what!

When deciding what will work best for you and your family, consider the following:

  • How much time are you willing to spend taking care of your foster animals? Four hours or more? Two hours maximum? You can expect to spend a minimum of at least 1-2 hours daily with your foster animal. Some animals will need four or more hours of your time every day.
  • Do you have animals at home? It’s important to keep your existing pets separated from your foster animals to prevent disease transmission between them. Also, will it cause your pets undue stress to share their home with strange animals?
  • You also should consider how your spouse and/or children will respond to having foster animals. Fostering is a great way to educate your children about animals, but it can also be difficult. Sometimes foster animals get sick, and sometimes they don’t survive. Do you think that you and your family will be able to care for an animal for a month or more, and then bring it back to the shelter, or will you become too attached to let go? The average foster period for each animal is at least 6 weeks, but many need care for much longer.
  • You will need to be at least 21 years of age, live in a place that allows pets, and have reliable transportation. You also must have the time and ability to bring foster animals back to the shelter for appointments with shelter staff as well as potential adopters on a fairly regular basis.

Once you have gone through the application and interview process with shelter staff, they will start you off with relatively “easy” cases, while you get used to the process and train and support you from there.  

if you think you might be interested in becoming a foster parent for our shelter after considering all of these factors, please fill out a foster profile form to get started.