WHY JOIN US?
- When you foster a shelter animal, you are helping save his/her life!
- Fostering provides 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!
How to Get Started!
Sign up to attend one of our foster orientations! This is your first step to becoming a Berkeley Humane foster volunteer!
Our Foster to Family program extends Berkeley Humane's impact by placing homeless dogs and cats into longer-term foster homes that will assist with finding new, loving families to adopt them — without the animals needing to return to the shelter. We still provide everything needed for success including marketing support! Foster to Family is great for homeless animals and helps relieve shelter overcrowding. If you are interested in becoming a Foster to Family volunteer please contact:
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, landlord and/or 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 and surrounding communities to transfer in animals according to Berkeley Humane’s capacity and resources. 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 Berkeley Humane can save from other shelters. Some are puppies and kittens not old enough to be adopted yet. Some animals are sick and need a bit of time in foster care to recover. Foster homes can also 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 our care. We learn more about the animals we take into our program through behavior assessments and medical examinations than we do from the shelter they came from.
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 volunteer. 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. 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's shelter. 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 other 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: Although we hope that fosters will complete a minimum 4-month commitment first, if you happen fall in love with the animal you're fostering, 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 prior to 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 different from fostering. A trial adoption is when a potential adopter – who meets all adoption criteria – 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 adoptions.
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 the amount of 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 volunteer 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 to foster quickly.
Q: I am looking for temporary housing for my pet. What can I do?
A: Berkeley Humane's foster programs (including Foster-to-Family) are intended to care for homeless shelter animals. We are currently unable to accommodate 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 to help with food and supplies.
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!
Want to learn more? Read about our foster animals on our blog!