About HSDR’s Foster Program 

Every animal in our care has to be medically and behaviourally adoptable and we use our foster homes to help them get to this stage to go to their forever home.

At the shelter we have a lot of dogs surrendered to us due to behavioural issues. The shelter can be a stressful place for these types of dogs. We rely on experience dog foster homes to help work through these behavioural issues using positive reinforcement based training to help prepare them for adoption into their furever homes.

Unfortunately there are many cats surrendered to HSDR due to medical and behavioural reasons. These issues can worsen in the shelter environment so we rely on foster homes to provide a quiet and relaxing environment for these cats to recuperate and prepare for adoption to their new families.

Each year we have a "Kitten Season" which usually starts in March and tapers off around November. The shelter overflows with pregnant mom cats, orphaned kittens without moms and many, many litters of kittens! They need time to grow before they are big enough for adoption and the best way to keep them healthy is to keep them out of the shelter and in foster homes! Kittens are adorable but still a lot of work and commitment to their care. This includes providing a clean environment, socialization and play time, medical care when needed and availability to bring them in for regular checkups with the medical staff at HSDR.

Small mammals need specialized care and attention. Many people don’t realize the responsibility of owning these special breeds and they end up being surrendered to the shelter. Small mammals have amazing personalities and can be great companions but they need some individual attention to come out of their shells to show their best self to adopters.


How to Become a Volunteer Foster Family


Submit an Application 

The application helps us learn about your family, household and experience. Download our Foster Application online and email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Otherwise, please come in to the shelter and speak to our friendly, knowledgeable staff. 




Conversation about your Application

Only selected candidates will be contacted for an interview. During the interview we will discuss your application and more information about the foster requirements.


Foster Orientation and Training Session

During this session you will learn about HSDR and the role of foster parents. You will be provided with informational manuals and hands-on training on how to care for some of the more vulnerable animals at HSDR.


Foster Volunteer Requirements:

• Must be 18 years of age or older.

• Must ensure their pets are spay/neutered and fully vaccinated.

• Must have a separate room to isolate a foster animal.

• Must have time to care for foster animals.

• Must have reliable transportation.

• Must have landlord’s permission, if renting.

• Must have family consensus.

• Must commit to at least 6 months.

• Must be available to come to scheduled appointments. 

• Must abide by the foster agreement signed upon joining the program.

• Must attend an orientation session.     


Foster Job Descriptions

Dog Training Foster Parent

Cat Training Foster Parent

Kitten Bottle Feeder Foster Parent

Kitten Litters Foster Parent

Small Mammal Foster Parent



Q – What supplies will I need?

A – HSDR will provide all supplies, from food and medication to blankets and towels. If you run out of anything during your fostering time, you can contact the Foster Department to arrange a pickup of more supplies.

Q – Can I foster if I have my own pets at home?

A – You need to keep your foster animals separate from your other pets. In most cases your foster animal will need a separate space in your house, a sanctuary room. A sanctuary room should be easy to clean and disinfect and free from any hazardous or dangerous items for small animals. If you have a space for this then we absolutely will accept volunteer foster parents who own their own animals in addition to fostering. It is recommended that your animals should be up to date on vaccines – and spayed/neutered of course!

Q- What if I work all day?

A- Individuals who work all day can still make great foster parents; it might just limit what kind of cases you can take on. Most cats can be left alone during the length of a regular work day but cats with special needs may require more regular monitoring. We would still encourage you to apply and discuss your schedule with our Coordinator in the interview process.

Q- Do I need to have experience?

A- Although training is provided we are looking for individuals that have some experience with the species of animals they are looking to foster. The more experience you have the more complex of cases you may be able to take on. HSDR will be on hand during your whole foster experience to answer any questions you may have, make recommendations and schedule appointments as needed. We are here to help and guide you through the process.

Q- What is the time commitment for fostering?

A- The time period for fostering can greatly vary depending on the case. With the assistance of our veterinary staff HSDR will give the best estimate for the length of the foster period. Duration could be days or months.

Q- How often will the foster animal need to come in for appointments?

A- This will vary depending on the animal. Some animals may require weekly or bi-weekly veterinary appointments at HSDR, others may require monthly recheck visits and others will be required to bring the animal in for meet and greet appointments. Foster parents are required to get the animal to all scheduled appointments at the shelter. In the event that the animal becomes unwell at any point in time the foster parent should contact HSDR and be prepared to seek medical attention on short notice if it is required. 

Q- What if I want to adopt after the foster period ends?

A- In most cases foster parents can have the opportunity to adopt their foster animal if they give advance notice to HSDR before the foster period ends. The regular adoption process (application, interview and adoption fees) will apply. This only applies to the foster parent themselves. Anyone else wishing to adopt your foster animal will have to wait until the animal becomes available and go through the regular adoption process; the animal will be available on a first come first served basis.