Kind People Across the US Are Fostering Animal Shelter Pets

Homes are needed for dogs and cats as shelters close due to stay-at-home directives.

(Anna Hoychuk /

Foster homes provide a safe and nurturing environment for pets that are waiting to be adopted. According to Pet Rescue, many shelters and rescue organizations will not take-in homeless pets unless they have a place for them to live. As shelters close due to the coronavirus, finding foster homes has become urgent and kind-hearted Americans are stepping up to help.

While the Humane Society of the US asked states to declare animal shelters essential services, many have had to close because of volunteers and staff not being allowed to work. And social distancing made pet adoption days impossible according to The Guardian.

At the same time there has been an increase in pets coming into shelters because their owners are too sick to take care of them or can no longer afford to keep their pets. This is above and beyond the estimated 6.5 million dogs and cats that go into shelters every year in the US.

But these extra pets are being placed into foster homes and pets are a great distraction for people who have to shelter in place. [People] “talk about having more time on their hands, wanting a distraction and to do some tangible good,” Tamela Terry, president of Maryland’s Humane Society of Prince George’s County told The Guardian.

TODAY interviewed a representative from Best Friends Animal Society, a non-profit organization, who said according to their data system, during the week of March 14-20, there was a 93 percent average increase in the number of animals going into foster homes.

“In the last week or two, shelters have come up with innovative plans to continue lifesaving, like virtual meet-and-greets by webcam and online meeting platforms like Skype, appointment-only fosters and adoptions and curbside pickup of pets,” Julie Castle, chief executive officer for Best Friends Animal Society, told TODAY.

Here are just a few: Friends of Detroit Animal Care and control in Michigan started a “cuddle shuttle”” to bring shelter dogs and carts to their foster families. North Carolina’s SPCA is now livestreaming adorable pets and the Animal Rescue League hosted an adoption event they called “Social Distancing Sidekicks”.

In Arizona, the Arizona Humane Society in Phoenix has a new drive-up service. People who volunteer to foster animals send a text when they arrive and the shelter staff brings the paperwork to the car to complete and the new foster fur baby. According to Bretta Nelson, a spokesperson for the organization, there are 345 pets (most of the animals) from the shelter being fostered.

“Fosters make such an amazing difference,” Kristen Beitzel, certified veterinary practice manager and vice president of medical services at East Bay SPCA in Oakland, California said. “We are hopeful that even after shelter-in-place is lifted, people will still be excited to open their homes until animals are ready for adoption.”

One couple Paul Shapiro and Toni Okamoto weren’t planning on becoming pet owners according to the Guardian. But as the coronavirus spread through California, the Sacramento local shelter was forced to close.

“They needed immediate fosters to come down that day, so since my wife worked from home she just got in the car and drove there immediately,” Shapiro told The Guardian. “You pulled up and they put a dog in your car. It was that dire.”

They are now the parents of a two-year-old Pitbull they named Eddie. Shapiro described himself as a pet lover who never owned pets. Eddie has enriched their lives so much that the couple has decided to adopt him. That’s just one of many foster animal success stories.

There is still a need for pet fosters across the US, so if you are interested, contact an animal shelter or rescue near you. Pets add so much to people’s lives that you will not be disappointed to have a fur baby in your home.

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