SPCA New Zealand

Volunteer positions

Foster parent
Dunedin Centre

Foster parent

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, birds and occasionally rabbits and guinea pigs. Currently our greatest need is for cat/kitten fosterers who are available over the Christmas/New year period as we are coming into the busy summer season.

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.
  • We supply all food, bedding, toys and everything else to make the animals comfortable while staying in your home.

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 animal you foster
  • 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 (this is not required for large farm animals as we can help with transport to the foster home)
  • Availability for vet appointments – you will need to be able to bring the foster animal to vet appointments on weekdays.
  • Your love and patience


Special notes for dog and small animal foster parents:

  • Our dog foster parents ideally should have experience with handling dogs, and need to be at home for at least part of the day; this is because many of the dogs and puppies 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 let the foster animals outside, a fully fenced section is required.

​Foster FAQs

Which animals need foster care?

  • Mothers with a litter of kittens or puppies
  • Orphaned kittens or puppies who are able to feed themselves, but are not yet old enough to be desexed and adopted out
  • Sometimes we will have very young kittens who need hand-rearing, these animals are only placed with experienced fosterers after discussion with the fostering coordinator.
  • Sick or injured animals that are under the care of our vets, but need the nurturing environment of a home
  • Teenage dogs that need training and to know what a home is

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.

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 a mother cat with a litter of kittens or, in some cases, an animal that needs medical rehabilitation. 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 this young could be critical. Besides, it’s a lot of fun to play with your 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?

Foster families are provided with all the food, bedding, equipment (such as litter trays) and medical expenses are covered for the animals in their care.

If you have any questions, please call 03 473 8252 (Dunedin reception) or 021300985 (Fostering coordinator) or email dunedin.reception@spca.nz.

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