Our rescue does not have a shelter or other facility, so we rely on the generosity of a special group of volunteers to house our adoptable animals. The more foster families that we have available, the more animals we can help and save.

Fostering does not need to be a long-time commitment, nor do you need previous experience. DC PAWS has set up a program for its fosters that is supportive and rewarding. Fostering can also be challenging, so its important to know what to expect.

How to get started

Complete our foster volunteer interest form. Once completed, you’ll have a conversation with a member of our foster recruitment team who will tell you more about what to expect. After completing that call, we’ll do a quick home visit to ensure the animals have a safe place to stay. If you have current pets, we’ll also check in with your vet to make sure all are spayed/neutered and up-to-date on vaccines. If you rent, we’ll confirm with your landlord that you can have pets in your home. This may sound like a lot, but everything is often done within less than a week. We want everyone to be set up for success.

What DC PAWS provides foster volunteers

While you are fostering an animal, we provide all the vet care, which includes monthly preventatives against heartworm, fleas and ticks. We also provide a collar, leash and ID tag, and a crate, if you need one. We have a training and enrichment program to help fosters feel more confident in training the dog in basic obedience and to troubleshoot any behavioral concerns. Our rescue has a supportive network in which fosters can learn from each other and more experienced volunteers.Every animal is assigned its own adoption coordinator that helps market the dog, screen potential adopters and assist the foster in and supporting the animal in its temporary home.

Time commitment required

It’s ideal that a foster volunteer can keep the dog or cat in its home from the moment the animal arrives via transport until its adopted. That time frame depends on many factors, but can be as short as a few days to a few months. But we understand that not everyone can be a full-time foster. We have opportunities to volunteer as a weekend or temporary foster. (Even full-time fosters need to go on work trips or take vacations.) If you have any interest in foster, complete the form, and we can talk about your schedule and how we can make it work.

Falling in love with a foster

When you bring an animal into your home, give it love, and watch its personality bloom, it can be hard to let go. For many, the fear of not wanting to let go stops them from even considering foster volunteering. But when you remember that your job as a foster is a temporary one, designed to help the animal get to its forever home, it makes it easier to see it adopted. Plus, when you let the animal get adopted, you now have the chance to help save another life when you foster again.

DC PAWS does not offer a foster-to-adopt program and cannot always guarantee specific dog placement. However, if you have preferences or requirements on things such as size, breed mix, or exercise needs, we will work to match you with a foster who fits those needs. Also, fosters can – and do! – adopt the animals who are originally meant to stay with them for a short while. If you have questions about adopting foster dogs or our adoption process overall, please let us know.