SPCA New Zealand

Volunteer positions

Foster parent
Napier 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 look after them until they are ready for adoption.

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.
  • 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 3-12 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 or other location to house a crate (which we will supply).
  • Written consent from your landlord – if you don’t own your home.
  • Transport – you will need your own transport to bring foster animals to and from the centre or to a vet when your foster animal need veterinary treatment. Some animals might need more than one visit, especially if they become unwell (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 for routine procedures such as desex and vaccination or a consult. Vet appointments will be booked at a time that is convenient for you where possible.
  • Your love and patience.


Special notes for dog and small 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 let the foster animals outside, a fully fenced section is required. Ideally, fosterers have some experience with rabbits and guinea pigs but we will provide you with guidance and ongoing assistance.

What does fostering involve?

Every animal has different needs, but a typical foster experience might include:

  • You first need to complete a fostering application at our centre and we’ll discuss this with you.
  • We may need to do a property check if you are interested in fostering dogs or large animals.
  • Once we have an animal in need of foster that we think suits you, we’ll contact you to discuss and see if the animal and timing are okay with you.
  • You will come to the centre at an agreed time and pick up your foster animal and required supplies. We’ll give you food, bedding, toys, medicine and anything else it needs – some animals may also need a follow-up vet appointment.
  • For dog fosterers we also do a meet and greet with 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.
  • Take the animal to any required vet appointments.
  • Return the animal back to the SPCA Centre when agreed.

​Foster FAQs

Which animals need foster care?

  • Bottle-fed kittens or puppies
  • 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
  • Sick or injured animals that are under the care of our vets, but need the nurturing environment of a home
  • Dogs that need training and to know what a home is

Most animals needing foster homes from our Oamaru Centre are cats with kittens, or young kittens on their own.

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 and up to date with flea and worm treatment.

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 becomes 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 young kittens and puppies could be critical. Besides, it’s a lot of fun to play with your animals!

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. You will need to provide transport for the foster animals.

If you can help give an animal a second chance at life, please get in touch on 06 8357 758 or napier.info@spca.nz, or drop into the centre at 31 Mersey Street, Pandora, and have a chat!

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