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Learn more at our free, no-obligation
Intro to
Fostering class


Lend a Paw to Animals in Need — Become an ARF Foster

ARF foster families help save lives every time they open their homes and hearts to an animal in need.

Why Foster for ARF?

  • ARF provides all supplies needed to foster (including crate, food, toys, and litter)
  • ARF has a full-time Foster Coordinator who is available to answer questions and offer support
  • ARF has a full-service clinic to take care of all medical needs for foster animals, including surgery and vaccinations
  • Fostering is a great opportunity to volunteer together as a family; caring for a cat, dog, kittens, or puppies without a long-term adoption commitment
  • ARF handles the entire adoption process at our facility, so all YOU have to do is love and care for the foster animal for a set period of time

Most importantly, fostering saves lives. ARF rescued more than 700 animals last year because of our foster families, and we are always in need of new foster homes. Join us in this lifesaving effort by signing up today. Email ARF’s Foster Coordinator.


Frequently Asked Questions


What is a pet foster parent?
A pet foster parent is someone who is willing to provide a short-term home to cats, dogs, puppies, or kittens in need of care before going up for adoption at ARF. We only ask you to provide love and care, and we will help with everything else!

Why are pet foster parents needed?
ARF rescues all of our animals from overcrowded public shelters. When we rescue puppies and kittens, they need foster homes until they are old/big enough for surgery and adoption. A rescue animal may come down with an illness, and a foster home is needed to allow them time to recover in a warm, loving environment. We also occasionally need foster homes to provide additional socialization, recovery from orthopedic/dental surgeries, and to give animals who are stressed a break from the shelter environment.


What are the joys of fostering?
The answers to this question are as varied as the people who foster. Some of the most common comments ARF receives are:

  • The satisfaction of knowing they were directly responsible for saving an animal's life
  • The joy of raising kittens and puppies for a few weeks without the responsibility of a longer term commitment
  • The opportunity to work with their children on a great family project that’s fun and teaches responsibility

Where are the animals that need foster homes?
Puppies and kittens that come to ARF from public shelters are only rescued after foster homes are lined up. There is not space or staff to care for them at ARF, so we rely on foster homes to care for them until they are old/big enough for adoption. We go to public shelters every week for adult dogs and cats, and house them here at ARF until they are ready for adoption. Sometimes they become ill with something they picked up at the public shelter, or we discover they need surgery (such as dental, bad knees/hips), and that is when foster homes are requested.

Who should foster a pet?
Given they have the time and dedication, anyone can become a foster parent. When considering becoming a foster parent, it is important to take into account your schedule, your home environment, and your willingness to give a significant portion of your free time to your foster animal. If you have a full-time job, fostering puppies might not be for you, as they need to be let out and fed every few hours. However, an adult dog could be left crated for a portion of the day, which could work for someone with a full-time schedule. Kittens also tend to be less involved, so they could be ideal for someone who works full-time (providing they are kept in a safe room with everything they need and given a lot of attention and care when you are home.)


How long is the foster commitment?
The foster coordinator will let you know what the expected timeframe will be. Once you return your foster animal to be spayed/neutered, they remain at the facility and are put up for adoption. For puppies, this is at 8 weeks or 2 lbs; kittens can come back for surgery when they weigh two pounds. Adult dogs and cats were likely in foster recovering from an illness, and can return for surgery when they are healthy (usually after a week on antibiotics). If your foster animal is recovering from orthopedic or dental surgery, the foster timeline can be anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks.

What does it cost to foster a pet?
ARF provides all of the basic supplies you will need to foster an animal: crate, litter, toys, food, and blankets. All of the animal's medical needs are taken care of at our clinic.

What kind of support will I get?
A foster coordinator is available to answer questions, schedule routine clinic appointments, and offer support. There is also a hotline to answer behavior-related questions, a full-service clinic for medical-related questions, and an emergency line for after-hours emergencies.

If I foster a pet, will I be able to take vacation?
We ask that if you commit to fostering, you plan on being home for that animal's entire foster timeline. If you need to leave town, it will be arranged for the animal to come back to ARF or go into temporary foster, but the coordinator will need ample notice to make those arrangements. We ask that you do not engage pet sitters, as they have not gone through ARF's foster orientation and do not know ARF protocols.


I already have a pet. Can I still foster?
Absolutely! We ask that you initially keep your foster animal separate from your own for 7 days to allow your foster animal time to settle in and to prevent any possible spread of illness. After this time, allowing supervised interactions with your own pets is both fine and encouraged.

Can I adopt the animal I foster?
Our foster homes receive priority on adopting the animal in their care. If you are interested in adopting a foster animal, let the foster coordinator know before they are scheduled to return for spay/neuter surgery.

How can I volunteer to become a foster parent?
All potential foster families are required to attend a free Foster Orientation class, held each month at our Walnut Creek facility. This class goes over ARF's policies and procedures, and outlines housing protocols and foster timelines. Once you attend the presentation, you can complete the application to become a foster parent. Sign up for the orientation!

I am less than 21 years old. Can I foster a pet?
Yes, with parental approval. Both you and your parent will need to attend Foster Orientation, and your parent will need to fill out the paperwork (since ARF considers them the responsible party.)

What happens after I fill out a Foster Application Form?
Once you application is reviewed and approved, you will be entered into the cat and/or dog database, and will begin receiving foster request emails. To begin fostering, reply to the foster request with which cat/dog appeals to you, and the coordinator will work with you to match the best animal for your home.


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