Embrace National Foster a Pet Month

A little kindness and care has a big impact

4 minute read

A black and white dog smiles at the camera with a woman in a casual knee length dress stands behind

There’s more to the month of June than sunshine and beautiful flowers. June is National Foster a Pet Month. It’s the perfect time to recognize the profound impact that fostering can have on both the animals and the people who participate in this important life-affirming practice.

For current and aspiring pet owners, there’s a lot to learn and a lot to gain from fostering an animal. Opening your home and your heart to a pet in need is a simple way to make a big difference. From stray dogs seeking refuge to orphaned kittens yearning for a brighter future, there’s a never-ending need for your help. You can bestow some much-deserved love into a pet’s life while enriching your own.

What is fostering?

So, what does it truly mean to foster a pet? To put it simply, fostering a pet means taking them into your home and caring for them unil a permanent home and adoptive family are found. Fostering gives an animal a nurturing environment where resources and connections are more plentiful than they can be in a shelter. There are roughly 26.6 million pets seeking refuge in shelters in the United States and Canada while they await a forever home.

A brown and whie pit bull sleeps on a rug with a black ring toy nearby

Mochi the foster Pittie enjoys a nap after playing with his indestructible Kong ring toy.

For families who can’t commit to a lifetime with a furry friend but have room in their homes and hearts to help an animal in need, fostering is something to consider. Often, fostering dogs spans about 2 to 4 weeks while cats normally spend a few months in the foster system.

The importance of fostering.

While shelter staff do everything they can to help our furry friends, resources are often limited. The more families that foster pets, the less overcrowded shelters will be and the more animals we can collectively help.

Fostering a dog or cat provides much more than their basic needs. Many pets that are up for adoption may be dealing with injuries or diseases picked up from being neglected or having to fend for themselves as strays. Fostering also allows animals time to heal.

Another benefit of fostering is that it helps prepare the animal for their eventual forever home. A foster pets can learn the ins and outs of home life and basic obedience skills that will serve it well with its new family.

As much as fostering a pet will impact an animal in need, there is a lot for humans to gain as well. Fostering can be the best learning experience for aspiring pet owners. For those not sure of their pet parent goals, fostering a pet can be used as a trial run with an animal to see if they’re the right fit for your home. Whether or not this home is temporary or will shift to a permanent residency is up to you and the pet.

A brown and whie pit bull kisses his foster mom

Mochi gives his foster mom a kiss to thank her for he love and fun day playing in the yard.

Through fostering, you can learn how an animal’s love can improve your mental health and overall wellness. It’s been proven that caring for a pet lowers blood pressure and reduces anxiety and stress. Nurturing another living creature has many rewards.

How to foster a pet.

Discover pets in need of a temporary home by reaching out to your local animal shelter or rescue. If you’re unaware of the shelters near you that may need volunteers, there are nationwide programs such as Greater Good Charities, which are designed to direct qualified aspiring foster parents to their future foster pets. Sign up through their website to become a member of the fostering community and really make a significant difference.

In addition, there are state-based programs you can join. The Animal Care Centers of New York is just one example of an eager community ready to help you embark on your fostering journey. With any organization, you’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaire or answer questions in person about your ability to foster and care for an animal. Shelters will need to understand the environment you’re providing. Some common questions include

  • Are there children in the home?
  • Are there other animals?
  • What is your schedule like? How much time will you be able to spend with your foster?
  • Do you have experience with animals?

Once you’ve been approved to foster, the next step is to prepare your family and home. You’ll have spoken with the shelter or organization that provided you with the pet to get a better understanding of the proper food and toys the pet prefers. Some organizations will provide foster families with leashes, crates, and litter boxes, while the rest is in your hands. As long as your new furry friend is being cared for and provided with all the resources it needs, you’ll be doing a great job. You’ll have the opportunity to care for the pet as if it’s your own by taking it to vet appointments and walks, and showing them the ropes.

A black white and tan heeler mix explores its new backyard

Chloe (later named Penny by her forever family) explores her new backyard where she'll play the days away until she goes to her forever family.

Depending on the organization you foster from, you’ll be assigned a foster coordinator who will help with adoption meetings. Some foster teams are smaller than others and require a little extra patience, but you’ll be provided with all the help you'll need.

Fostering is far more than a temporary home; it's about offering sanctuary and a sense of belonging to animals who have known hardship and uncertainty. You’ll provide an animal with a place to heal, hope, and be happy while they wait for their forever home.

A heeler mix dog kisses its foster mom

Chloe loves on her foster mom after an exciting day at work meeting lots of new friends.

As we observe National Foster a Pet Month, let’s embrace the opportunity to make a difference in these sweet animals’ lives. Let ’s open our homes, our hearts, and our arms to these deserving dogs and cats. Together, we can create a warmer, more compassionate world for all furry friends, one foster pet at a time.