Many of our dogs and cats cannot go directly into our shelter – the only way we can save these animals is with the help of foster homes.
Fosters provide a temporary home for pets in the care of P.A.W.S. while they are awaiting their forever home or the opportunity to move into our onsite adoption location.
The Benefits of Fostering
There are so many benefits to opening your home to foster a dog or cat, but just to name a few:
Have an animal companion without the lifetime commitment.
Help an animal recover from an illness/injury, with medical care covered by P.A.W.S..
Give extra TLC to puppies and kittens too young to be adopted.
Foster homes help animals transition from the stress of living at the shelter.
Ready to foster?
What are the requirement’s to become a foster?
- Before applying to be a foster, ensure all family members are in agreement with fostering a pet in need
- You must complete a foster application
- Be 21 years of age or older and be able to pick up foster pets at P.A.W.S.
Who can become a foster parent?
Anyone! Even if you work full-time, you can still foster (depending on the needs of each individual animal(s). All you need is a desire to help animals in need. You do need to be located with one hour of the shelter’s location in case of emergency.
Can I “try-out” a foster animal for a few days?
Unfortunately we do not allow you to test drive the animal(s). Changing their environment frequently causes too much stress so we try to minimize that as much as possible.
If a situation arises with the animal you are fostering, please contact the shelter or anyone on the emergency contact list to discuss solutions.
What types of animals are available to foster?
- Pregnant/nursing dogs and cats
- Lots of litters of orphaned puppies and kittens until they can be spayed/neutered (per state law, litters of animals must be kept together until they are at least 8 weeks of age)
- Animals needing extra socialization
- Dogs and cats that have medical or surgical needs
- Dogs or cats that have had longer stays in the shelter
- Elderly, depressed or scared animals.
What supplies will I need to foster an animal(s)?
This depends on each individual foster animal(s). You will need to have a safe space in your home where you can keep the foster animals separate from your own pets for the duration of their care. We will supply you with food/medications and most other necessary items to care for the animal(s).
What are some of the reasons an animal needs to be in foster care?
At any given time, we may need foster homes for cats and dogs for so many different needs. Below are some examples:
- The animal is recovering from medical conditions (e.g., a broken leg, heartworm treatments) and just needs a few weeks in a loving home to mend.
- Some animals might need help with training, medical issues, rehabilitation from surgery, behavior and/or socialization.
- Some animals are shy, scared and/or stressed in the shelter environment and need a quiet place to reside while they wait for their forever home.
- There may be adult dogs or cats that have stopped eating due to the stress of losing their family and need the security of a home situation to get back on her feet.
- The dog may have a minor behavior problem (jumping up, mouthiness) that a foster family can work on to make the animal more appealing to adopters.
- Young puppies and kittens that need to get all of their vaccines before being around other animals so they need to be isolated in a home environment so they won’t get sick.
- The shelter may simply have a space crunch (especially during times of natural disasters like hurricanes or other emergencies) and need to find a short-term housing alternative for some of the animals.
Will it cost me anything to care for the animal?
We cover the cost of all of the medical needs, approved veterinarian visits, food, bowls, playpens, litter boxes, cages etc. while you are fostering so there is no cost to the foster home.
How long will I typically care for my foster?
We have both cat and dogs, who are available for either short-term or long-term care.
This depends on each individual animal(s). Most kittens/puppies need to continue in foster care until they have been altered, vaccinated and ready for adoption. This typically takes 4-6 weeks with frequent appointments at the shelter and our local vet clinic.
In a long-term foster home, it is up to the family/individual as to how long they/you will foster the dog or cat. Ideally, the dog or cat would reside in the foster home until they are adopted. This could be anywhere from a week to several months. Requirements of fostering a long term dog or cat would include bringing the dog or cat to P.A.W.S. for potential adoption visits. We do our best to accommodate the foster family and potential adopter for the best day and time to meet.
I live in a rental house or apartment. Can I still foster?
Yes, as long as your landlord allows for you to have dogs or cats in the residence. A copy of your lease will be required along with your landlord’s contact information.
I live in a condo/townhome. Can I still foster?
Yes, a copy of your bylaws will be required at time of application.
Why do young puppies and kittens need to be fostered?
Young puppies and kittens cannot be housed at the shelter itself because they are vulnerable to becoming ill without any vaccines to protect them. We need short-term foster homes (typically 4-6 weeks) to provide a healthy, germ-free environment and lots of tender, loving care to kittens and puppies or pregnant dogs or cats.
P.A.W.S. provides you with a playpen or kennel, food, bowls, newspaper, etc- anything you need. You will need to bring the puppy(s) back to the shelter on specified dates for vaccines as well as a neutering/spaying appointment at a specified date. We of course pay for the neutering/spaying and any other vet appointments that P.A.W.S. has agreed to. The animal can return to the shelter for adoption once all the vaccines and any medical procedures have been completed.
What if I have pets?
You will need to have a safe space in your home where you can keep the foster animals separate from your own pets for the duration of their care if fostering young puppies or kittens that have not received all of their vaccines yet. When fostering an adult dog or cat that is up to date on all of their vaccines already, we will need to introduce any current dog you have to the foster animal at the shelter to make sure they get along and they would not have to be kept separate at home. Your current dog or cat has to be spayed/neutered, current on distemper & rabies vaccines and Heartworm (dogs) or FeLV/FIV (cats) tested in order to foster.
What if the animal(s) need medical care?
P.A.W.S. will pay for any approved medical care that is necessary for the animal(s). Most medical care will be done here at the shelter, but at times it may be necessary for you to bring the animals to one of our veterinarians for care. Most vaccinations, dewormings, etc will be done here at the shelter on specific schedules, so you will have to be able to bring them to the shelter for those scheduled appointments.
What if I have an after-hours emergency?
Don’t worry. There is a list of home contact numbers given to every foster home. The people on the list are all very experienced foster homes themselves and will be more than happy to answer any questions you have.
Why might an adult cat need to be fostered?
These precious, loving creatures come to us scared and confused and they often become quickly depressed. They do not adapt well to losing their family and comforts of a home and they often become gravely ill because of this depression.
There is a bright side to this sad story, however, and that is the miracle of a FOSTER HOME! By offering one of these kitties a place to stay while we vaccinate them and booster those vaccinations you will be giving them a precious advantage that can truly mean the difference between life and death.
What if I fall in love with my foster?
If you decide that your foster pet should become a permanent family member in your home, it’s a wonderful thing! You will simply need to let your foster counselor know you would like to adopt your foster, fill out the adoption application, and pay the posted adoption fee.
Still have questions?
You can email us at email@example.com
P.A.W.S. Tinley Park
8301 W. 191st Street
Tinley Park, Illinois 60487
Telephone: (815) 464-7298