WHY JOIN US?
- When you foster an animal, you are helping save his/her life!
- Fosters provide invaluable socialization opportunities for shelter animals.
- Enjoy temporary companionship if you're unable to have a pet long-term.
- Fostering is a great way for the whole family to volunteer together from the comfort of home.
- Being a foster is a great way to gain animal handling skills.
- Berkeley Humane provides all the supplies, you just provide the love and care!
- Must be 18 or older.
- Have genuine concern for the welfare of animals, consistent with Berkeley Humane's mission.
- Be able to monitor medical conditions and evaluate the behavior of the foster animals.
- Be able to check on the foster animal every 4-5 hours.
- Must provide care and socialization.
- Must provide regular transport to medical appointments and adoption weekends.
- Must be willing to separate foster animals from your own animals.
- Must commit to 4 months of availability.
- No experience necessary!
Attending a foster orientation is your first step to becoming a Berkeley Humane foster!
Animals who are 7+ years old, or have been available for adoption for 30+ days, are available for Trial Adoptions!
- Trial adoptions allow potential adopters—who meet all adoption requirements—to foster an animal for 10-14 days with the intention of adopting the animal.
- During the 10-14 day trial period, potential adopters act as a foster for Berkeley Humane, and must abide by Berkeley Humane's Foster Program protocols. Berkeley Humane will provide food, toys, bowls, and bedding so there is no cost until you decide to adopt.
- Trial adoptions are available for residents of Contra Costa and Alameda counties.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who can foster for Berkeley Humane?
A: Anyone over 18 who can meet the following criteria: Show genuine concern for animals. Be able to monitor medical conditions and the behavior of foster animals. Provide regular transport to medical appointments, adoption weekends and events (this can be by car, taxi, walking or public transport so long as all laws are obeyed and animals are safely secured). Be willing to separate foster animals from resident pets. Confirm with family and roommates that they are comfortable fostering and can follow protocols. Fostering for Berkeley Humane does not require any previous experience!
Q: What is a Foster Care Provider?
A: A foster care provider is a volunteer who provides short-term housing for Berkeley Humane’s cats, dogs, puppies or kittens in their own home. If you are looking to adopt, please note that our Foster Program is not to provide a “trial period” before deciding to adopt an animal of your choosing. Read about our Adoptions process here!
Q: How long do you foster an animal for?
A: The length of time an animal is in foster depends on the age, health and adoption status of the animal. Typically, foster stays range from 1 or 2 weeks (ex: healthy, adoptable animals) to 2 months (ex: young animals and nursing mothers).
Q: Where do the animals come from?
A: We partner with municipal shelters in the East Bay to transfer in animals according to Berkeley Humane’s capacity and population. Municipal shelters generally provide animal control and must accept any kind of surrender, stray or at large animal for any reason at any time and our ability to intake animals from them helps alleviate overcrowding.
Q: Why do these animals need fostering?
A: Foster homes increase the number of animals that we can save. Some puppies and kittens not old enough to be adopted. Some animals are sick and need a bit of time in foster to recover. Foster homes help animals become more socialized which improves their mental health and helps them become more adoptable.
Q: What do you know about the animals?
A: Most of the time, the animals have unknown backgrounds before ending up in shelters. We learn more about the animals we intake through behavior assessments and medical examinations than we do from the source shelter.
Q: What support do I get and how much does it cost?
A: All supplies and medical care are provided by Berkeley Humane. This should not be a financial burden to the foster home! The Foster Program Coordinator is available for support and advice throughout fostering.
Q: Can I travel and foster?
A: Fostering is a great option for folks who travel too much to commit to adopting a pet at this time. We do require that you be home the entire time you have a foster animal. If you do need to leave town, please give advance notice so that the Foster Program Coordinator can arrange for the animal to come back to Berkeley Humane. Pet sitters cannot care for foster animals.
Q: Can I foster if I already have pets?
A: Absolutely, as long as animals can be housed separately and your pets are current on all vaccinations. Cats and kittens are always kept separate (behind a closed door) from pets, but dogs can interact while supervision is available. Homes with resident dogs are wonderful for helping us socialize our dogs! Berkeley Humane staff facilitates introductions between foster and resident dogs for the greatest chance of success.
Q: Can I adopt the animal I foster?
A: Though we hope that fosters will complete their 4 month commitment first, if you happen fall in love with the animal we have matched you with, you are welcome to adopt! When volunteers and fosters meet our adoption criteria, we prioritize them for adoptions. Our Foster Program is not intended to allow homes to select and “try out” an animal before adoption. If you are primarily interested in adopting, please check out our adoptable pets page and visit us during our adoption hours!
Q: What if I need time with an animal before deciding to adopt?
A: Animals that have been available for adoption for 30+ days and animals 7+ years old are eligible to be taken home for a 10-14 day trial adoption. A trial adoption is when a potential adopter – who meets all other adoption criteria for the animal – wants time to decide before they adopt or would feel more comfortable getting to know the animal in their home! Check out our adoptable pets page and visit us during our adoption hours to see which long-term residents are available for trial adoption!
Q: Can I foster if I work full time/odd hours?
A: We do our best to play matchmaker and set you up with an animal that will fit your lifestyle. When considering your availability, take into account your schedule, home environment, energy level and free time that you’re willing to dedicate to your foster animal.
Q: How soon can I start fostering?
A: Once you’ve attended a Foster Orientation and signed all the appropriate paperwork, you are ready to begin! When you are matched with your first foster animal will depend on our current population and adoptions numbers. The more open you are with your preferences, the more likely you’ll be matched with an animal quickly!
Q: I am looking for temporary housing for my pet. What can I do?
A: Foster programs are intended to care for homeless shelter animals. We are currently unable to accommodate family and owned pets. There are numerous pet sitting companies and boarding facilities in the Bay Area and you may be able to negotiate a long-term agreement with one. If you have difficulty keeping your pet due to housing or cost, please visit our resources page for information about pet-friendly housing and other resources. We also provide a Pet Food Pantry program on the last Saturday of each month.
Q: It doesn’t sound like being a Foster will work for me. How else can I help?
A: Please check out our other Volunteer opportunities. You can also help animals in our care by donating an item listed on our wish list!