“Becoming a foster parent is a lot like being a grandparent… all the fun of playing with and enjoying an animal without the lifetime responsibility.”


About the Programs:

Fostering an animal (or a few!) can be one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. Not only do you get to relish in the love and joy they bring to your home but you’re also able to play a large role in the enrichment of their lives. Allowing a shelter animal temporary reprieve in your home gives them relief from shelter life while also helping them to become more adoptable. During their time in your home we are able to learn more about certain behaviors or attributes they may have, thus allowing us a better shot at finding them the most suitable forever home. Fostering also enables us to rescue more animals that would otherwise be euthanized

We place animals in foster homes for a variety of reasons and not all of our dogs and cats are available for this program. Take a look at the considerations below and explore the various Fostering Options to see if you may be able to help!

A few things to consider:

  • You must be allowed to have the animal in your home. If you rent, landlord approval is required before take the animal into foster.
  • Are the people who share your home with you in favor of bringing an animal into the living environment? All household members must be in favor of the particular foster situation.
  • An extra room in the house is very helpful, especially for puppy or kitten fosters. In certain cases, the foster animal needs to be kept separate from other animals in the home so having extra space is extremely helpful.
  • Having a flexible schedule is very helpful, one that will allow for ample play, socializing and potential vet visits, event appearances and adoption meetings.

Fostering Options:

Long Term Foster

Long Term Fosters are wonderful options for both cats and dogs that have either been at the shelter for a long period of time (six months or more) or are having a hard time adjusting to shelter life. They may be fearful of humans or un-socialized with other animals and need a quiet, patient environment where their social skills can be nurtured. These are many times special needs animals that require an experienced foster home to help them develop into more adoptable animals. In these cases, foster parents commit to a certain time frame and would need to be willing to show their animals to potential adopters from their home or a specified location. Inquire with shelter staff about which animals would be available for Long Term Foster!

Recovery Foster

Recovery Fosters are usually limited-time commitments for ill or injured animals. It’s proven that cats and dogs who are recovering from an ailment heal so much quicker in a quiet home-environment rather than a busy and bustling shelter. Many times the illness is contagious to other animals, such as kennel cough or URI, so it’s important to take that into consideration if you have other pets in your home. Other times it’s anything from a bad burn to a broken bone that requires restricted activity or extensive treatment/care. Shelter staff will equip Recovery Fosters with everything they need in order to properly care for the specific animal such as a crate, required medication/instructions, food and any other essential supplies. Once the animal is well or treatment is finished they must return to the shelter to be put up for adoption. To find out if any of our animals are in need of a Recovery Foster, please call the shelter or inquire within.

Slumber Parties

Slumber Parties are one of our most popular Foster Options! This option allows you to take almost any of our adult dogs for one night of fun, games and cuddles. Slumber Parties begin at the end of our day (between 5pm and 6pm on weekdays and between 4pm-5pm on weekends) when you may come to the shelter and select an adult dog to come home with you over-night. The animals(s) must be return to the shelter at the time of opening (11am sharp). It’s important that these dogs be treated as indoor pets and sleep inside the home. You are welcome to take them out and about to the beach or around town wearing an “adopt-me” vest, but it is imperative that they remain on-leash at all times. We encourage our Slumber Party Fosters to do a small write-up about their experience with their doggy guest, highlighting positive and negative behaviors/attributes/tendencies/talents/tricks. It helps us to learn a little more about each of our animals since many of their histories are unknown. Slumber Parties are especially needed during Holidays as well as days the shelter is closed (Mondays). Cats and puppies are not available for this Foster Option.

Pregnancy Foster

Pregnancy Fosters are extremely vital around puppy and kitten season and to be one means you truly save lives. The Santa Cruz SPCA is inundated with desperate pleas for help from other shelters that have very pregnant dogs and cats needing rescue. If rescue doesn’t arrive, these innocent expecting mothers are euthanized due to lack of space and resources. In order for us to be able to provide this life-saving rescue, we must have foster homes lined up. Birthing at a shelter is a death sentence for the babies that have extremely low immunity. Pregnancy Fosters commit to caring for the mother until and during birth and then caring for mother and babies together until the little ones reach the adoptable age of eight-weeks-old. At this point, mother and babies returns to the shelter to be adopted. This is a verytime consuming Foster Option and requires experience with birthing mothers. However, it can be oneof the most rewarding in the end. We will provide all necessary supplies and will also maintain regular correspondence. If a Pregnancy Foster is not needed at the time of inquiry, your Foster application will be kept in our system and you will be notified when on is available.

Puppy/Kitten Foster

Every Spring as well as other odd times throughout the year, we receive litters of recently born or very young puppies and kittens that are too young to be adopted. Puppy/Kitten Fosters commitments can range anywhere from 1-7 weeks but every situation is different. Many times the babies are the only ones needing the foster, sometimes we also have the nursing mother who needs a place to keep doing her motherly job. Being a Puppy/Kitten Foster is a hefty job but also a wonderful experience. We find that the baby animals do extremely well in foster homes with children who are all too willing to help socialize them! The ultimate goal is to place the puppies or kittens in a healthy, safe and social environment until they are of adoptable age. Puppies or kittens must be housed indoors and have little to no outdoor exposure. Experience with puppies in not required but preferred and the Santa Cruz SPCA will provide all necessary supplies.

Each animal leaves a footprint in my memory, something that I can think of later and smile.
Susan Labicane, Foster Volunteer

To participate in any of these Foster Options, you must submit an approved application.

Become a Foster Care Parent!

Submit a Foster Care Application