What is Foster Care?

Each year, thousands of animals come in to the shelter and are not ready to be put up for adoption. Foster Care is a program specifically designed to place those animals into temporary homes where they can receive the care that they need.

What are some of the reasons an animal is placed into foster care?

  • Lack of space
  • Underweight
  • Too young /needs bottle feeding (for circumstances where the mother may not be available)
  • Pregnant or Nursing
  • Emergency boarding situations
  • Injured
  • Socialization (dogs who need foster care specifically for socialization are part of our New Leash on Life foster program for dogs)

The majority of animals placed into foster are cats/kittens and dogs/puppies. We do occasionally provide foster care for ferrets, rabbits, and guinea pigs as well.

What are my duties as a foster parent?

  • To provide daily care, cleaning, feeding, and administration of medication if prescribed (food, medications, and other supplies are all provided by the SPCA).
  • To socialize and provide TLC for the animals in your care.
  • To provide transportation to and from the shelter for any necessary medical or vaccination appointments.

To BE COMMITTED to your fosters! Your foster care time commitment will vary dependent on your animal’s particular circumstances and can range from one week to three months or more.

Wondering about the level of work required for foster animals? Check out our all new foster care manuals:

What are some of the qualifications necessary to become a foster parent?

  • Home must have a separate area where your foster animals can be isolated from your resident animals.
  • Foster parents should have a flexible schedule to allow for vaccination appointments, routine veterinary exams, and any emergency that may occur.

(The Foster Care Department has staff available Monday through Saturday to assist you should any questions or issues arise. The SPCA also has medical staff on call 24 hours a day to assist with emergency situations should they occur.)

How does the SPCA Foster Care Program work?

The SPCA receives animals that are not immediately ready to be placed up for adoption. Potential foster volunteers are contacted with an individual animal’s information (reason for foster/age/number of animals/expected foster care time frame). If you are willing and able to foster when called, a pick-up time is scheduled. At that time, you will be given any necessary supplies. (For health and space reasons we prefer the animals to be placed as close to intake as possible.)

The animals are placed into a foster home and remain there until they are ready to return to the shelter and be placed up for adoption. Foster parents, family, and friends do get first priority if choosing to adopt their animal (regular adoption fees apply). It may be necessary to bring the animals back to the SPCA for vaccinations, veterinary appointments, and the spay/neuter surgery (all of which will be scheduled by SPCA staff).

How do I become a foster parent for the SPCA?

Fill out a Foster Care Application! (You must be 18 years old to apply.) Applications can be picked up directly from the shelter or downloaded here. Once filled out, the application can be mailed or brought to our 300 Harlem Rd., West Seneca shelter, or you can email the application to fostercare@yourspca.org.  Need help filling out the application? Just call, and one of our foster care coordinators can fill it out for you by phone:  716-875-7360, ext. 216!

For more information on the program and to find out more about how you can help save lives by becoming a foster parent, call or email the department: 716-875-7360 ext. 216 or fostercare@yourspca.org.


Q: Why is there such a huge need for SPCA foster parents?

A: In 2013, out of 12,000+ animals surrendered to the SPCA, 3,266 of them were in foster homes! Foster care volunteers saved these lives! Based on the trends we’ve already seen this year, we know that number will be higher in 2014, which is why we need additional foster homes. The problem is too large for just one organization…we need to work together with community members to save these animals’ lives.

Q: What are the different foster programs at the SPCA?

A: There is general foster care for animals who have specific requirements and/or medical needs, who are pregnant/nursing, or for completely healthy animals for whom we just don’t have room (more specific information is provided above). Then there are two behavioral foster programs for animals who get a little nervous and don’t do well in a shelter environment, and/or who require some kind of behavior modification. New Leash on Life is the name of this dog program, and Pawsitive Journeys is the cat program.

Q: What kind of animals go into foster care?

A: Cats and dogs are the most common animals fostered. Smaller animals like rabbits and guinea pigs are placed in foster care from time to time.

Q: What does it cost to be a foster parent?

A: Your time and your love! That’s it! The SPCA provides any necessary veterinary care and medications, crates or cages, food, and any other supplies required by the animal(s)!

Q: What if I fall in love with my foster pet and can’t let her go?

A: Foster families DO have the opportunity to adopt their foster pets once the animals are ready to be adopted!

Q: What if my friends or other family members get attached to my foster pets? Can they adopt them?

A: Yes, it is a possibility! If someone you know has a definite interest in adopting one of your foster animals, provided the person is approved for adoption, we’ll discuss with you the necessary steps to make that happen!

Q: I’m afraid to foster because I KNOW I’ll get too attached! Does that happen?

A: Sure, sometimes that happens! People do become attached to their foster pets and just can’t let them go. Many continue to act as foster parents for other animals in need. HOWEVER, THIS ISN’T ALWAYS THE CASE!! All foster parents obviously love their patients, but many of them don’t experience a need to keep them. When it’s time for their fosters to go up for adoption, they bring their animals to the shelter, and walk out with new animals in need of temporary foster care!

Get Email Updates