Many of the animals that come into our SPCA Centres across the country need additional care, treatment and socialisation before finding their new forever home.
Our volunteer foster parents provide a temporary home for these animals and help them recover from surgery, give them medicine for an illness, or work with them to improve their behaviour.
We need foster parents to provide temporary homes for cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and farm animals year-round, but our greatest need for cat fosterers is during the busy summer months.
Please help by applying today.
Why foster an animal?
- If you can only open your home on a temporary basis, fostering an animal is a great way to rescue an animal in need
- Every animal that you foster is given a second chance at life – and the more you foster, the more lives you can help save
- All SPCA foster parents receive training at our workshops and ongoing support from our foster department
- We supply all food, bedding, toys and everything else to make the animals comfortable while staying in your home
- Our on-site hospital perform health checks and provide medicine as required.
What you need to help?
- Time – on average an animal will be staying with you between 3-6 weeks but this can differ depending on the type of animal you foster and each individual animal’s circumstances
- Spare room (required for cats but also useful for dogs) – a safe and secure space away from other animals which could be a spare room, bathroom or laundry.
- Written consent from your landlord – if you don’t own your home.
- Care – most animals will require medication throughout their stay (training on how to medicate an animal is provided)
- Transport – you will need your own transport 24/7 to bring foster animals to and from the centre or to an after-hours vet should your foster animal need emergency veterinary treatment in the middle of the night.– some animals might need more than one visit to the vet (this is not required for large farm animals as we can help with transport to the foster home)
- Availability for vet appointments – you must be able to bring the foster animal to vet appointments on weekdays (this is not required for large farm animals as vet appointments take place at the foster home)
- Attend a foster information session at the centre before you start fostering
- Your love and patience
Special notes for dog, small animal and farm animal foster parents:
- Our dog foster parents should have experience handling and training dogs and ideally be at home for at least part of the day; this is because many of the dogs that are needing foster require socialisation and special training as many have never experienced a real home environment before.
- Our small animal foster parents will need to provide their own suitable accommodation for their foster animals, such as a large hutch, playpen or spare room. If they would like to house the foster animals outside, a fully fenced section is required. Fosterers need to have some experience with rabbits and guinea pigs; we will also provide you with a full foster manual and ongoing assistance.
- Our farm animal foster parents should have experience with the type of farm animal they would like to foster. All farm foster animals will need socialisation but only some require you to be home during the day
What does fostering involve?
Every animal has different needs, but a typical foster experience might include:
- Filling out our application form and a quick follow-up phone interview with our foster team to make sure fostering is right for you
- Property check by one of our Field Officers (dogs and large animals only)
- Attending an information and training workshop at our centre
- Pick up your foster animal and required supplies. We’ll give you food, bedding, toys, medicine and anything else your foster needs – some animals may also need a follow-up vet appointment
- For dog fosterers we also do a meet and greet at the centre with all members of your household and your resident dogs to ensure they are compatible with your potential foster dog
- Give your foster animal your love, care and patience, and introduce them to a real home life experience, rules and boundaries
- Complete daily monitoring records
- Return the animal back to the SPCA Centre when they have recovered or are scheduled for return
Which animals need foster care?
- Mothers with a litter of kittens
- Orphaned kittens or puppies who are able to feed themselves, but are not yet old enough to be desexed and adopted out
- Sick or injured animals that are under the care of SPCA’s vets, but need the nurturing environment of a home
- Teenage dogs that need training and to know what a home is
- Animals with diseases contagious to other animals who can’t be housed at the centre
Can I foster if I have my own animals?
Yes, we welcome pet owners as foster volunteers. Please keep in mind there is always a health risk when exposing your pets to other animals, in any setting. So we ask that your own animals be fully vaccinated. To ensure your resident dog and foster dog get along we will arrange a meet and greet at the centre before you can take the foster dog home. If you foster cats and kittens, please discuss with the foster department before introducing them to your pets. Rabbits and guinea pigs need to be monitored at all times around other pets and should be housed separately.
Can I foster if I have a full-time job?
It depends on the flexibility of your job and your schedule, and the animal you would like to foster. If you work full-time you could, for example look after an adult cat. Most of our foster parents do work full-time, but are able to spend time with their foster animals before and after work. It is, however important that you are able to accommodate urgent vet visits in your schedule if a foster animal is seriously ill and needs to be seen by a vet right away.
How much time do I need to spend with my foster animals?
As much time as you possibly can. The more time you spend with your foster animals, the more you will help with their socialisation. You’ll also be able to spot signs that your animals are not feeling well, which in kittens and puppies could be critical. Besides, it’s a lot of fun to play with foster animals!
How long do animals stay in foster care?
The typical foster stay is between two weeks to a couple of months, depending on the need of the individual animal.
What expenses are involved with foster care?
All foster families are provided with all the bedding, equipment (such as litter trays) and medical expenses are covered for the animals in their care. Cat, dog and large animal fosters will also have all food for their foster animals provided but we ask rabbit and guinea pig fosterers to supply their own grass, fruits and vegetables.
If you have any questions, please contact our foster team on 09 256 2525 , or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that we are currently not taking or processing applications for dog foster parents. Other applications are welcome.
For: Foster parent
Thank you for your interest in fostering an animal from the SPCA. Foster families are vital to the work of the SPCA, and we simply couldn't help the huge number of animals we do without foster families, who provide love and care for animals in their own homes every year.
Please fill out this form as completely as you are able. If you need assistance, please call the team at your local SPCA Centre.