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Foster Care FAQs

What is the Foster Program?

The Foster Program allows adoptable animals to move out of the adoption centers while they are waiting for their new home, opening up more space in the adoption centers and giving more wonderful dogs and cats a second chance at a forever home. Foster volunteers open up their homes to dogs and cats in need and help find them forever homes.

What kind of animals need foster homes?
All kinds of adoptable dogs and cats. WHS puts healthy, adoptable animals into foster homes to open up space in the adoption centers. We also need help fostering animals that may not do well in the adoption center environment, including mothers with litters of young ones, puppies or kittens too young to be adopted, animals recovering from surgery, and shy or timid animals overwhelmed by the adoption center environment.

Who can be a foster parent?
Anyone with the time and energy to dedicate to caring for a cat or dog and the willingness to help them find a new home. Foster volunteers are caring, compassionate people who want to make a difference in an animal's life. You must live in the DC Metro Area and have some familiarity with caring for animals in your home or the willingness to learn.

What are the requirements for fostering animals?
Foster caregivers need to be able to keep animals in their home (i.e. owning their own home or living in a pet-friendly rental). WHS will provide routine preventative medical care including spay/neuter, vaccinations, heartworm or FeLV/FIV tests, and dewormer. Foster parents are responsible for food, shelter, and any medical care not provided by WHS. Foster parents must be willing to help find the animal a new permanant home (including meeting with potential adopters), and be able to release the foster pet to their new owners. Having a car is beneficial but not required.

Can I return my foster animal to the adoption center if I am unable to foster any longer?
Yes, we will always take an animal into our adoption center. We prefer that foster parents continue to foster until the animal is ready to be placed for adoption or until a permanent home is found. It’s extremely stressful for an animal to be returned to the adoption center environment; however, we understand that situations change and it may become necessary to discontinue fostering.

We request that a foster parent provides as much notice as possible (minimum two to four weeks), so that we can find an alternative foster home. In an emergency, a foster parent may always bring their animal back to the adoption center.

What if I go on vacation or have a business trip?
If given enough notice, we can usually find volunteers that can foster pet sit for short durations. We ask that foster parents always keep adoption center staff aware of any temporary foster sitting situations.

Are foster animals ever euthanized?
Much energy, love, time and veterinary care is devoted to our foster animals, and WHS is committed to finding homes for ALL the adoptable animals within our care. Some animals are in foster care, because they’re seriously ill or injured. If, after medical attention, these animals are too young or too weak to heal and are suffering, then the adoption center staff will humanely euthanize these animals.

Fortunately, most animals in foster care heal beautifully. On rare occasions, an animal in foster care may start to exhibit potentially dangerous behavior that was unknown or suppressed when the animal was at the adoption center. The adoption center may determine that this animal is too dangerous and humanely euthanize the animal or seek an alternative facility or rescue organization for its care. Your safety is our number one priority. You must always inform the adoption center staff if your foster animal exhibits any aggressive behavior.

What happens during the foster process?
Once you are an approved foster, when there is a dog or cat that needs foster care, the Foster Care Coordinator will contact you. If you are able to foster at that time, you will pick up the animal at the adoption center and bring him or her home to get settled in. When a potential adopter is interested, you will arrange a meeting between the adopter and your foster pet. You will then work with the Foster Care Coordinator and adoption counselors to find your foster animal a permanent home. After the adoption is approved, you will help your foster transition into their new, loving home!

For information on how to promote a foster animal, click here

How do I become a foster parent?
If you are interested in becoming a foster for WHS, please complete the Foster Application.

After filling out the application, you will be contacted by the Foster Care Coordinator, and if approved you’ll attend one of our foster trainings. We want to make sure you have all of your questions answered before you get started. After the training, you will be ready to start fostering!