Official websites use

A website belongs to an official government organization in the City of Boston.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock or https:// means you've safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Heat Emergency in Boston
Mayor Wu announced a heat emergency in the City of Boston through Wednesday, July 17. Cooling centers will be open at 14 BCYF community centers Monday through Wednesday, from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Last updated:

Pet Foster Parent Program

By being a pet foster parent, you provide a temporary home for an animal currently in the care of City of Boston Animal Care and Control.

Dogs and cats are the most common pets needing foster homes. But, sometimes there are birds or small mammals (like guinea pigs and rabbits) that need foster care.

Common Questions

Common Questions

There are several possible reasons:

  • Some animals don’t do well in a shelter environment because they are frightened or need a little extra care.
  • Young animals that are too young for adoption or surgery are at risk of illness in a shelter and need to gain weight in a place with fewer animals.
  • Pregnant and nursing moms and their unweaned babies need a quiet place to grow.
  • Some animals need a safe place to sleep while their owners recover from an illness or injury.

Whatever the reason, these animals need some extra love and care before they can be adopted or returned to their owners experiencing hardships. 

If you want to do something to help the animals, fostering can be a flexible, fun, and rewarding volunteer job. Here’s why:

  • It’s a great way to enjoy a pet if you are not in a position to make that lifetime commitment right now. Fostering can be an excellent option for college students or military families.
  • Would you like to add a dog or cat to your household, but you’re not sure? Fostering can be a great way to find out.

Taking animals into your home, loving them, and then letting them go requires a special kind of person. Your role as a foster parent is to prepare the animal for the next step in its journey.

The specific needs of the animal will determine how much time is involved. Newborn orphaned puppies and kittens, for instance, must be fed every few hours. A frightened animal who needs socialization or training will also require some extra time. Shelter staff can work with you to determine what kinds of animals you’ll be best suited to foster. Some animals need a foster for as little as a week. Others may need care for eight weeks or more.

Some of the animals most in need of foster care are those that require a little extra help or some training. Shy cats often need time to learn to trust and the quiet of a home environment. Dogs often benefit from a little obedience training. If you familiarize yourself with some basic training techniques, you can be a big help in preparing your foster dog for a new home.
Just by getting to know the animal, you’ll help the shelter learn more about her personality and needs.

The shelter will provide foster parents with all the necessary food and medication. You will also sign a contract that explains:

  1. who to call in the event of illness or injury, and
  2. what steps to take in the event of an emergency.  

You’ll want to consider how the animals in your household will adjust to having a foster pet. Some animals do very well with a temporary friend and can help socialize the foster animal. Other pets have a harder time with new animals being added to or leaving the family.
For the safety of your pets and the foster animal, it’s important to keep your pets licensed and up-to-date on vaccinations. Any medical costs for your own animals are your responsibility. In many cases, the foster pet will need to be isolated from your own pets, either temporarily or throughout the foster period.

How to apply

  • All foster volunteers must be able to meet all of the following basic requirements:
  • Fosters must be over 18 years of age. They must agree to be the primary caregiver and point of communication for any foster animals placed in the home.
  • There must be no animals in the home, or all animals in the home are altered (spayed or neutered), up to date on vaccines, and all dogs are licensed in the appropriate municipality.
  • Fosters must own their home or have written landlord approval that animals are allowed.
  • When caring for foster animals, fosters must be able to transport them to regularly scheduled rechecks at the animal shelter in Roslindale. Rechecks occur about every two weeks and are scheduled Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • In the event a foster animal becomes ill or injured, fosters must be able to get the animal to the animal shelter in Roslindale the same day. Our hours of operation are 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., seven days a week.
  • In the event of an after hours emergency, fosters must be able to transport a foster animal to MSPCA-Angell emergency veterinarian in Jamaica Plain in a timely manner, if directed to do so.

If this sounds like you, please complete our online request for more information or sign up to be added to our foster volunteer database:

Volunteer database signup

Have questions?

If you have questions about our foster program, you can contact us at or 617-635-1800.

Back to top