Animal Fostering

Some of the animals brought to the Champaign County Humane Society have special needs. They may be sick, injured, scared, or pregnant. Some are simply too young to thrive in a shelter environment. To give these animals the best chance of finding a forever home, we place them in volunteer foster homes until they’re ready to return to the shelter and go up for adoption.

As a foster parent, you might take care of a litter of kittens for a week or two, or, you might bring home a dog who is undergoing treatment for heartworm and needs a calm place to stay. You might take care of an older cat being treated for an upper respiratory infection, or a young dog who has never been inside a home and doesn’t know how to play. Whatever the situation, our foster families make the world of difference to homeless pets every day.

Is Fostering Right For You?

The amount of time and effort required of foster volunteers varies greatly, depending on the needs of the animal(s) being fostered. Some animals will need no more care than an existing family pet.

Other animals require more -- such as a litter of 2-week-old kittens that must be bottle-fed every 2-3 hours, or a cat who must be given medication twice a day.

If you decide to become a CCHS foster parent, our shelter staff will help you decide what level of commitment you are able to make and what types of animals you can handle. Some foster families only work with kittens, while others only work with under-socialized dogs. Some foster families will take any animal, no matter what!

When deciding what will work best for you and your family, consider the following: How much time are you willing to spend taking care of your foster animals? Four hours or more? Two hours maximum? You can expect to spend a minimum of at least 1-2 hours daily with your foster animal. Some animals will need four or more hours of your time every day.

Do you have animals at home? It’s important to keep your existing pets separated from your foster animals, to prevent disease transmission between them. Also, will it cause your pets undue stress to share their home with strange animals?

You also should consider how your spouse and/or children will respond to having foster animals. Fostering is a great way to educate your children about animals, but it can also be difficult. Sometimes foster animals get sick, and sometimes they don’t survive. Do you think that you and your family will be able to care for an animal for a week or more, and then bring it back to the shelter, or will you become too attached to let go?

How Much Does it Cost?

There in an annual fee of $25.00 paid to the Dept. of Agriculture for your foster license. Animal food, medicine, and supplies are provided by CCHS at no cost to the foster volunteer.

I’m Ready to Foster!

When you decide that you're ready, please send an e-mail to the CCHS Medical Care Manager, Karen Simmons, at Karen@cuhumane.org. Karen will likely set up a time to meet with you and if it seems that fostering will be a good fit for you and CCHS, you’ll be asked to fill out a foster application.

Eligibility: You must be 21 years of age, live in a place that allows pets, and have reliable transportation. You also must have the time and ability to bring foster animals back to the shelter for appointments with the Medical Staff as needed.

Once you’re an approved foster, you will be provided with a handbook about fostering, and you will be asked to fill out the Illinois Dept. of Agriculture license form, and write a check for $25.00 (this is a once-yearly licensing fee.) Once that’s complete, you’re ready to foster!

Your First Foster Animal

The CCHS staff will start you off with relatively “easy” cases, while you get used to the process.

You might bring home a frightened cat who just needs love and affection, or a couple of puppies to play with for a week or two before getting into the more difficult foster animals.

The CCHS medical staff is available 7 days a week from 8-4:30 if you have any questions or concerns about your foster animal(s). A member of the medical staff carries a pager 24 hours a day, and you will be provided with the pager number so that you can always reach someone in the event of an emergency. We will also put you in contact with other foster parents who can mentor you in the process.