What is an animal foster parent/family?Wake County Animal Foster Care Program

An animal foster parent/family provides temporary, in-home care for friendly kittens, puppies, cats, dogs, rabbits or other animals in need until they can be placed for adoption or transferred to an approved rescue partner.


Who should foster?

Any person who is invested in saving lives and assisting in reducing the pet overpopulation by advocating spay/neuter and responsible pet ownership.

Why are pet foster parents needed?

Foster parents maximize the number of animals rescued, and they also help to care for animals that would be difficult to care for in a shelter or kennel environment: puppies and kittens who are not strong enough to fight germs, orphaned kittens and puppies, animals recovering from major surgery, or animals needing one-on-one behavior rehabilitation, socialization or a break from the shelter environment.


How long would I keep a foster animal?

The length of time a foster home is needed depends on the reason for fostering. Typically, pets stay in a foster home for two to 12 weeks.


What does it do for the animal?

The animal learns manners and socialization and is much less stressed than it would be in a shelter environment. By teaching dogs manners and basic obedience skills, you help them to become the sort of companion that most families want. Often foster animals have come from a difficult situation, and restoring their confidence and trust is an important step in helping them learn to be well-mannered, tolerant, loving and responsive.


Can I choose a particular animal to foster?

Our primary goal is to find loving, permanent homes for our animals. We will guide you to the animals that are most in need of a foster home. We do our best to match those in need with appropriate foster home scenarios and skill levels.

I already own an animal. Can I still foster?

Before you become a foster parent, consult with your veterinarian to make sure your own pets are up to date on their vaccinations. You may wish to ask your veterinarian if your pets need any additional vaccinations. Your personal canine or feline pet also MUST be spayed or neutered prior to your becoming a foster. There are exceptions, but those are to be discussed with the Coordinator.


If I fall in love, can I adopt my foster animal?

Yes. Foster parents adopt many of our animals;however, we don't sign folks up who only want to find a pet to adopt. We are looking for folks who want to help us save as many lives as possible!

Can I try to find a home for my foster animal on my own?

All foster parents are required to assist in finding a new home for their foster. This includes attending adoption events, updating your foster's biography and keeping updated photos of your foster on our website. When an adopter is found for your foster, all you need to do is bring the animal in and have the new adopters come to the Animal Center to complete the adoption process.


When is the greatest need for foster homes?

Our greatest need is in the spring and summer, when many cats and litters of kittens arrive at our shelter, but we have a year-round need for pet foster homes of all animal types.


What types of pets need to be fostered?

  • Infant puppies and kittens that require bottle-feeding every 2–4 hours
  • Kittens and puppies (until 8 weeks of age and 2 lbs.)
  • Rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, ferrets, guinea pigs and other small pets
  • Animals recovering from treatable illnesses
  • Underweight animals
  • Animals in need of minor behavior modification and/or socialization
  • Animals that need a break from the shelter environment
  • Current foster pets in need of foster sitting while the foster is out of town
  • Animals in need of short term housing before going to another destination

What are the requirements to be a pet foster parent?

  • Be at least 18 years of age or have family participation
  • Have a valid driver's license
  • Have proof of medical, auto, and homeowner's or renter's insurance
  • If renting, provide proof of permission from your landlord that you can have pets in your home (we don't cover costs of pet rent or pet fees)
  • A veterinary reference providing evidence that your personal pets are up to date on vaccinations and monthly preventatives and are spayed/neutered
  • Isolate the foster animal(s) from family pets for an initial 10-day period
  • Live and house foster pets within Wake County (or be willing to drive the pets to and from the Animal Center if you live outside Wake County).

Do I need to live in Wake County to foster?

You must live and house the foster pets either in Wake County or within a neighboring county and be willing to drive back and forth from outside the County, as needed – it is possible, as we do have fosters who live outside the County. You may discuss individual concerns and expectations with the Foster Coordinator.

What else should I be prepared to do as a pet foster parent?

  • Maintain a peaceful, loving environment for the foster animal(s) and spend quality time socializing them
  • Visit Wake County Animal Center medical staff for basic medical care and treatment of the foster animal(s)
  • Bring adult animal(s) to the Animal Center monthly for health updates and status checks
  • Bring puppies and kittens to the Animal Center every two to three weeks for health updates and status checks
  • Commit to the entire foster period for the animal(s) and return the animal(s) promptly at the end of the foster period as needed
  • Attend adoption events, write animal biographies for your foster and update photos
  • Be prepared for the possible illness or death of the foster animal(s)
  • Be prepared for the possible destructive behavior of the foster animal(s)
  • Be willing to provide basic obedience training for dogs in foster care
  • Be willing to communicate with the foster coordinator if any problems arise
  • Return the foster to the shelter as requested, either for adoption or to transfer to an approved rescue partner

How do I apply to be a pet foster parent?

If you are interested in opening your heart and home to these deserving animals, please complete the Animal Foster Program Questionnaire to initiate the application process. The Questionnaire can be completed online.


Animal Foster questionnaire

Additional questions?

Any further questions about the program can be directed to the Foster Coordinator, Joanne Duda via email, Joanne.Duda@wakegov.com, or phone, 919-250-4474.