Be A Pet Foster Parent

Why is Pet Fostering Important?

By opening up their homes to animals for short periods of time, foster families provide more room at the Center and allow us to take in more animals. Ultimately, our foster families enable us to save more lives and help more animals in need. Thanks to the tireless dedication of our incredible foster families, Helen Woodward Animal Center was able to place more than 3,300 orphan animals into loving forever homes in the last year! Would you like to join this team and open up your home and heart to orphan pets?

Apply online to become a pet foster


Frequently Asked Questions

  • An animal lover who generously volunteers to open their home to orphan pets until these pets are ready for adoption.
  • Pets need fostering until they can be made available for adoption, here are some of the reasons we might send them to a foster home.
    • Too young. Puppies and kittens need to be at least 8 weeks old to be adopted.
    • Not yet up to date on vaccines.
    • Waiting to be spayed or neutered.
    • Pregnant or nursing moms with babies.
    • Undergoing medical treatment or recovering from a procedure.
  • Foster homes provide a soft place to land for animals coming into our care and can help ease their transition into their forever home with socialization and love.
  • An assignment is what we call one set of fosterlings. It can last anywhere from a couple days to a couple months and can include one or many animals! We have lots of different types, for a summary of what’s involved see below.
  • Our amazing foster families will only be in charge of one assignment at a time so they can focus all their energy on those kiddos.
  • Yes, as long as you are willing to learn! We provide a lot of training as well as a manual and folder of information to take home with every foster assignment.
  • There are lots of great resources for new pet families, our new fosters can find it very helpful to read up on puppies and kittens before taking home their first assignment!
  • Love, time and transportation! All you need to provide is love and attention, time to care for the foster pets, and transportation to and from the Center for pick up, drop off, and any appointments.
  • The Center provides all supplies needed to care for foster pets (food, bowls, toys, blankets, potty pads, litter box, etc.).
  • The Center also takes care of all medical needs of foster pets (vaccines, check-ups, spay/neuter surgeries, etc.).
  • Puppies are typically sent out to foster homes in groups of 2 or 3. They can be left home alone for a maximum of 4 hours per day.
  • Pups can have supervised playtime outside in a secured backyard (wood, plastic, chain link, etc.) but cannot go for walks unless they are fully vaccinated and over four months old.
  • Assignments typically last 1-2 weeks, depending on the age and vaccination record of the puppies.
  • Puppies must stay at your home. They can never go to parks, restaurants, beaches, hikes, doggy playdates, etc. 
  • Kittens are typically sent out to foster homes in groups of 2, 3, or 4. They can be left home alone for a maximum of 6 hours per day.
  • We recommend they stay in a bedroom or bathroom as a more enclosed space can help them to feel more at home in a strange new place, particularly for kittens who might be a bit more shy.
  • Felines are always indoor only.
  • Assignments typically last 1-3 weeks, depending on the size, age, and vaccination record of the kittens.
  • To be a kitten foster, resident cats and kittens must be indoor only.
  • To be a cat foster, resident cats and kittens must be indoor only.
  • These canine and feline families need a peaceful, quiet, and safe place to raise their litter. Mom does almost all the work caring for the babies!
  • Canines can be kept in an x-pen while feline families do great in a spare bedroom or bathroom.
  • Once babies are old enough to wean onto solid food (4-6 weeks) you assist with this transition.
  • Canine families can be left for a maximum of 4 hours a day and feline families can be left home for a max of 6 hours.
  • Assignments typically last 2-3 months, depending on how far along a pregnant mom is or on the age of the babies.
  • These sweet babies are extremely vulnerable to disease and a foster home is the safest place for them.
  • They require around the clock care and bottle feeding every 2-4 hours. Because these babies are very fragile and require special care, extra neonatal training is given to the incredible fosters who are able to take these babies on.
  • Assignments typically last 1-2 months, depending on the age of the animals.
  • Adult animals often go out to foster care as singles, occasionally adult cats will go out to foster with siblings. Adults can be left home alone for up to 8 hours.
  • Felines are always indoor only.
  • As long as adult dogs have all their vaccines, they can go on walks.
  • Assignments typically last 1-2 weeks.
  • Adult dogs must be leashed if there is an unfenced pool. 
  • Our foster program is not set up as a foster to adopt program; we are looking for fosters who are interested in continuing to volunteer throughout the years to come.
  • Check out our adoptable dogs here and cats here.
  • Helen Woodward Animal Center is committed to the health and well-being of our pets. The Center goes to great lengths to ensure that every animal receives the lifesaving care that they need – no matter the cost.
  • Fostering is a great way to put the Center’s mission to practice: People helping animals and animals helping people.
  • Foster pets bring a lot of joy to their foster families.
  • We understand returning the animal(s) can be challenging, but you save more lives with each assignment.
  1. Submit application
  2. In-Person Foster Orientation: This will take place at Helen Woodward Animal Center. You will learn everything you need to know before taking your first assignment at this live event.
  3. Virtual Home Check: We will pass your application along to one of our virtual home check volunteers. They will reach out to schedule a 15 or so minute video chat session to help you figure out where the best place in your home would be to set up for canines and felines and can answer any other questions you have at this point.
  4. Onboard! We approve your application and get you some foster babies.

Upcoming Orientation Dates

June 10, June 24, July 1, July 22, August 12,

August 26, September 16, September 30,

October 14, October 28, November 4,

November 18, December 2 and December 16


All Orientations are from 10am – 12pm at Morse Hall (located next to Club Pet Boarding)

How To Get Started with Pet Fostering

To apply to become a Helen Woodward Animal Center foster parent, click here to submit an online application.

Helen Woodward Animal Center and BLUE Buffalo have launched a new adoption program, Shelter Stars, that brings benefits to new adopting families.  As a foster or volunteer for Helen Woodward Animal Center, you have access to the Shelter Stars program as well!  We encourage you to pick up an adoption code card at Paws in the Ranch to receive instant BLUE savings as well as your registration code to sign up for access to additional savings.

Be sure to check out the Shelter Stars training video (available on the Fosters Facebook Page) to learn more about all the additional savings you and adopters will receive.


What to do now …


  • Pick up your first $5 BLUE savings coupon & adoption code
  • Use adoption code to register for program at
  • Check out all the BLUE support online
  • Upload receipts to receive additional savings for BLUE


Questions? Get in touch with us!

Foster Program:

858-756-4117 ext. 366, ext. 375, ext. 357