How opening your home saves lives

By Natalie Dal Pra

Looking for an opportunity to help San Diego-area animals? If you’re a dog-, cat-, (or even hamster-) lover, pet fostering is a short-term commitment that reaps big benefits for both animals and humans. The San Diego area has an abundance of animals in need of homes, and there is a huge demand for fosters while these pets are waiting for their fur-ever families.


According to Nina Thompson, director of public relations with the San Diego Humane Society, the shelter is at 105 percent capacity for dogs, meaning there are more pups than kennels available. Because of this, the Humane Society relies heavily on fosters.

“SDHS is facing challenges in housing animals who need help and is turning to the community to assist in creating much-needed space in their shelters, especially with dogs,” Nina says. Dogs are in greatest need of foster homes, but SDHS is also seeking temporary care for cats, kittens, and even smaller critters like guinea pigs, rabbits, and hamsters.

While many shelters are running out of space, some animal rescues, like Oceanside-based organization Saving Pets One at a Time (S.P.O.T.), do not have kennels or boarding facilities and depend completely on fosters to care for adoptable animals. S.P.O.T. is run entirely by a network of volunteers.

Fostering a kitten | COURTESY OF S.P.O.T.
Fostering a kitten | COURTESY OF S.P.O.T.
Cora, a fostered cat | COURTESY OF SD HUMANE SOCIETY
Cora, a fostered cat | COURTESY OF SD HUMANE SOCIETY

“We rely on our network of foster families to provide temporary homes for the dogs and cats we rescue. The more foster families S.P.O.T. has, the more lives we can help save,” says Rachel Humphrey, a foster coordinator for S.P.O.T.

Rachel adds that foster families can help the rescue determine what type of permanent housing situation would work best for the animal, including providing S.P.O.T. volunteers with helpful information about each pet’s behavior, needs, and personality. Dog fosters sometimes assist with training, leash manners, and socialization to ready the pups for long-term housing.

Supplies like food, cat litter, and medications are provided by the rescues to help make the process easier. The type of assignment given to fosters varies depending on the rescue’s needs and how much a family can provide. For instance, the San Diego Humane Society often has pregnant dogs, kitten litters, and moms recovering from birth that require temporary housing for those who can take on a larger commitment. 

Prospective foster families must meet certain criteria, such as submitting to a home check, but the ability to provide love for the pet is what matters most.

“There is no ‘ideal’ foster family per se. What is important is that you have time to care for the animal, the ability to bring him or her for their medical appointments, and most importantly, that you show the animal the love and affection they deserve while waiting for a permanent home,” Nina says.

Fostering is an easy way to help the community while you add a new dimension to your life. If you’re ready to open your heart and home to local animals in need, consider filling out a foster application today.

Foster parents filling their own hearts with love | COURTESY OF SD HUMANE SOCIETY
Foster parents filling their own hearts with love | COURTESY OF SD HUMANE SOCIETY


Cat Adoption Service

It’s The Pits

San Diego Humane Society

Saving Pets One at a Time (S.P.O.T.)