Frequently Asked Questions - Foster Care

What are the requirements of becoming a foster caregiver?

Please review our list of requirements to be a Dakin Humane Society Foster Caregiver.

What do foster caregivers do?

As a foster caregiver for Dakin, you will be providing a safe and cozy space for foster animals. During their stay with you, you’ll socialize with them and care for them while they await adoption. Depending on your comfort level and experience, you may be asked to provide your foster with medication and treatments, this is especially true for cats/kittens that go into foster. Our veterinary team will work with you if you are interested in learning skills to help sick shelter animals.

What are the benefits of fostering?

Fostering is a rewarding experience for everyone involved. It not only provides the animal with individualized attention, but it benefits you as well. For some people, it is a chance to have animals in their lives without the full-time commitment of having a pet. You will also have opportunities to build relationships with other foster parents and learn new skills.

What age do you have to be to foster?

The primary foster caregiver must be 18 years old, but the whole family can be involved in providing care.

What is the time commitment?

The time commitment to provide a foster home varies depending on the situation. Generally, this can range from one week to three months. This time range depends on factors such as age, recovery, treatment time, behavior plans, etc.

What if I work full time?

No problem at all, most foster caregivers work full time. Most of the animals that go into foster care need care 2-3 times a day and that can be done around your work schedule.

Where do I pick up my foster animals?

All foster pickups, medical care, and drop-offs for fosters take place at Dakin's Springfield Animal Resource Center at 171 Union Street, in Springfield, MA.

Will I receive any training or additional support?

We offer a variety of learning opportunities, including one-on-one coaching by the Foster Coordinator, veterinary staff, or foster mentors to help you learn to give medications to your foster animals as well as online webinars to help you expand your skills.

We also have a mentor program for fosters that are just starting out and working to grow their skills or any foster that feels like they could benefit from having a one-on-one mentor. Mentors are available to answer any questions you may have about routine care of your foster, offer tips and tricks, and be a resource after-hours when staff isn’t available. Mentors are existing Dakin volunteers with high levels of experience and skill.

Do I need to have medical knowledge and expertise?

While it is helpful to have some prior knowledge, it is not necessary. We are happy to help guide and teach you the skills needed to care for your foster animal no matter what level of knowledge you may have.

Questions about your home and pets

What considerations are there for my own pets?

Dakin recommends that your resident animals are up-to-date on their vaccinations. We advise prospective foster caregivers to check with their veterinarian for guidance on whether fostering is recommended with the (existing) pets in the home. This is especially important if your pets are elderly or have compromised immunity.

What do you recommend for a space to keep my foster cat/kitten?

We recommend a single indoor room that is separated from your resident animals. It is best if this room is able to be easily disinfected. Little to no soft furnishings or rugs is recommended. Bathrooms and offices make great foster spaces.

Questions about caring for foster animals

What types of animals need foster care?

There are a wide variety of animals in need of foster care and the needs change daily. You can read all about which species of animals need foster homes here.

How often do I have to bring them to Dakin?

Trips to Dakin’s Springfield Animal Resource Center in Springfield can be frequent, up to several times per week. We require foster caregivers to have reliable transportation in order to meet the needs of the animal(s) in their care.

Who supplies medical care?

Dakin provides all medical care. Foster caregivers are required to bring animals to the Springfield Animal Resource Center as needed for medical care and/or treatment. This can include several trips per week. Dakin staff will work with you to try to make these routine or medical visits as easy as possible for you, around your schedule.

Who provides food and supplies?

Generally, our foster caregivers provide food, litter, toys, and other routine animal care supplies. Dakin can provide these items when needed at the foster caregiver’s request.

Can foster caregivers adopt their foster animals?

Yes, we lovingly refer to this as "foster failing". If you want to adopt your foster pet please let us know ASAP so that we can be sure to make note of that and not start seeking an adopter for your foster animal.

Can I return my foster animal if I am unable to foster any longer?

Yes, we will always take our animals back into our care. As much notice as possible is appreciated, but we are committed to making this work for everyone involved.

What happens if I go out of town?

We ask that you try to plan ahead for vacations and make sure that the foster animal's timeline matches your schedule so that you will not have a foster in your care at the time of a trip. However, we know that life happens and sometimes an animal may need to come back to us sooner than anticipated. If you have an animal in your care and will be going out of town please contact us so that we can make the best plan for your scenario (other member/s of the household care for the animal, animal return, pet sitter care for the animal, etc.)