What is Foster Care?

Each year, dogs, cats, and, occasionally, other types of animals, come into 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 (when the mother cat is not available)
  • Nursing litter
  • Emergency boarding situations
  • Injury rehabilitation
  • Ringworm treatment


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 FOSTER ANIMAL(S) FOR THE DURATION OF CARE! Your foster care time commitment is dependent on each animal’s particular circumstances and can range from one week to months. We will discuss each animal’s projected needs with you on a case-by-case basis.

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

  • Volunteer must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Volunteer must have completed orientation through the SPCA’s Volunteer Services Department.
  • The home must have a separate area where foster animals can be isolated from resident animals.
  • Foster parent should have a schedule that allows for vaccination appointments, routine veterinary exams, and any emergencies.
  • Foster parent is encouraged to have app-capable technology (tablet, iPhone, etc.) to utilize our foster caregiver support software Maddie’s Pet Assistant.

How does the SPCA's Foster Care program work?

When the SPCA receives an animal or animals not immediately ready to be placed for adoption, potential foster volunteers are contacted with the number of animals needing care, reasons fostering is required, age(s), expected foster care time frame, etc.

If the volunteer is willing and able to foster when called, a pick-up time is scheduled. At that time, the volunteer is provided with any necessary supplies.

Once in the foster home, caregivers feed and tend to the animals and provide any needed medications or treatments.

Should any concerns arise, the Maddie’s Pet Assistant app offers guidance for medical and behavioral issues and alerts foster parents if the problem needs the attention of the SPCA’s Veterinary Services Department.

Animals placed into foster homes remain there until they are ready to return to the shelter and be placed up for adoption. Foster parents and their family members and friends do have first priority if choosing to adopt the foster animal(s).


Mama dog nursing puppies in a crate, size 600 by 600

How do I become a foster parent for the SPCA?

Fill out a Foster Care Application!

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, NY 14224 shelter, or the application can be emailed to fostercare@yourspca.org. 

For more information on the SPCA’s Foster Care program, and to learn how you can help save lives by becoming a foster parent, just call the SPCA at (716) 875-7360, ext. 216, or email fostercare@yourspca.org.

Additional Foster Care FAQs

Q: What kind of animals go into foster care?

A: While the majority of animals placed into foster are cats/kittens, along with some rabbits and dogs/puppies, we keep a list of  foster homes for small mammals, reptiles, and exotic animals. Put your animal expertise to use and let us know you may be able to provide care for those pets some people consider slightly more “unusual!”

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)! (We of course wouldn’t mind if you wanted to make a donation for supplies to pay it forward to the next animal that needs a foster home!)

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

A: ABSOLUTELY! It’s a perk of (and thanks for!) being a loving foster parent! Foster families DO have the opportunity to adopt their foster pets once the animals are ready to be adopted…before anyone else has a chance!

Q: What if my friends or other family members get attached to my foster pets? Can they adopt them before the animals are available to the general public?

A: Yes, and we encourage it! 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!

See the difference puppy-fostering made in one local family’s life! Go to pg. 6 of our 2021 Annual Report >>


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!

For more information on the SPCA’s Foster Care program, and to learn how you can help save lives by becoming a foster parent, fill out an application using the link below, call the SPCA at (716) 875-7360, ext. 216, or email fostercare@yourspca.org.

Get Email Updates