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Foster

We Love Our Foster Parents!

Thank you for your interest in fostering for Harris County Pets!  This page will give you all the information you need to know about fostering for Harris County Pets.  Please read carefully and contact us with any questions.  

ALL FOSTER SERVICES ARE BY APPOINTMENT ONLY DUE TO COVID-19 PROTOCOL.  Please call 28-999-3191 to make an appointment. 

To become a foster for Harris County Pets, you must reside in Harris County or one of the surrounding counties: Brazoria, Chambers, Ft. Bend, Galveston, Liberty, Montgomery or Waller county. Please fully read the Foster Program Agreement prior to applying to become a foster. Fosters are required to attend adoption events with their foster animal and to bring the foster animal to our facility for various reasons. Please be sure you can comply with the guidelines.

 Please read the Foster Program Agreement completely:

 FOSTER PROGRAM AGREEMENT

How Do I Begin Fostering?

Please call 281-999-3191 to make an appointment to come in to our facility and go through a quick orientation with a member of our Transfer Department  Let the operator know you are a new foster parent. When you arrive, we will give you a list of dogs and cats that need a foster home.  You will be able to choose from that list and meet a few to best determine which foster pet is right for you. 


Foster Programs:
Foster Friends Program (longer-term, hard-to-place animals)

Animals that may be adoptable, but need help with socialization, minor illnesses, grooming, or if there just isn't space at Harris County Pets. Animals in the Foster Program are available to rescuers, adopters, and transporters to tag and we will continue to network these animals to our rescue and transport partners, as well as through social media for potential adopters.

  • Your animal may be chosen for a transport or rescue at ANY time. If you plan to adopt or find an adopter, please let us know IMMEDIATELY. All foster animals remain on the website for rescue and adoption and the animal will be sent to our Transfer Partners for potential placement.
  • The animal cannot require any type of medical treatment that is not available from the shelter.
  • We do not allow aggressive animals to be fostered. 
  • Foster must commit to attending AT LEAST two adoption events EACH month in order to get the animal the visibility it needs.
  • The locations of adoption events can be found on our Events Calendar located on the home page of the website.
  • We use SignUp.com to sign up to attend adoption events. You will need to create an account to sign up for events. 
  • Once you are an approved foster, please ask to join the closed Facebook group - Harris County Animal Shelter Volunteers and Fosters page.

Foster for Transport (short-term)

Animals who are a candidate for transport are chosen by our Transfer Supervisor for transfer to other areas of the country.

  • Each animal will have a specific time range that a foster is needed (usually 1-3 weeks for puppies or up to 5 weeks for adults) so the animal is not in the shelter being exposed to diseases. 
  • Most of or Transfer Partners have different requirements for how long we must hold before transfer and vaccinations. Because of these requirements, these animals are not available for local adoption or rescue and need not be marketed. 
  • We will communicate with you to arrange your foster’s transfer date and any possible treatments needed.  
  • Once an animal enters foster care, we will submit the animal to our transport partner and transport date will be set.
  • You will need to be available to come back to the shelter for medical treatments or a health certificate prior to transport.
  • Animals on our “Needs Foster” list will have guaranteed transport. Any animal not on this list may not be accepted into the program immediately and may be a part of the Foster Program (details below).


Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do when I bring my foster home?

Our facility can be a stressful place for animals. When you first bring your foster pet home, it is a good idea to allow them to decompress. We recommend having a space set up for your foster animal like a crate or an X-pen (even a bathroom will work) that is just for your foster to hang out and relax. Meeting new dogs, the neighbors and too much freedom are not recommended for the first few days. A quiet space and a nice bed to lay on and some good meals will help your foster pet learn a life of happiness and love.

How should I introduce my foster to my residence pets?

While there are many different ways to do this, we encourage you always introduce animals on neutral territory, avoiding nose-to-nose contact as the first way of meeting. Give the dogs a chance to sniff each other from behind. Keep both dogs on a leash until you have seen how they will interact in this new setting. The key is to go slowly and supervise until both animals are comfortable with each other.

Another way to introduce your foster dog to your resident dog is to go for a walk as soon as you bring your new foster home. This will tire out both animals and associate the other animal with something they like; walks!

Your foster dog should always be fed in a crate. New dogs should be fed away from other dogs until you know how they react with food. Be sure dogs do not interfere with each other during feeding.

The key is to be confident and calm. If you are calm, your foster and resident dog will stay calm. Both will look to you for cues on how to proceed in this new situation. By staying calm you are letting the dogs know that this is a good situation.

Should I crate my foster?

Yes! Crating or otherwise safely securing the dog at night or when leaving the home is HIGHLY advised. It will give your resident animals a break and also protect your home from accidents and/or destructiveness. With time, the crate will become your foster’s safe spot and will go in on their own when it is time to relax.

How do I potty train my foster?

Always keep your foster dog on a leash or in a restricted area (fenced yard) when it’s time to do their business. Don't assume the foster is house-trained -- changes in homes and families are stressful for the dog and it may "forget" or need some time to adjust to your routine. Praise when foster dog does its business outside, don't just let it out and assume it knows what to do. Go with the dog and as soon as it happens, quietly praise. Best practice is to assume the dog has no training and proceed as if it’s a puppy, with frequent opportunities to go outside: after meals, playtime, upon waking up in the morning and from naps, after excitement. Some dogs just need a refresher to get back on track. NEVER PUNISH A DOG FOR SOILING INAPPROPRIATELY. Secure the dog and quietly clean it up out of the dog's sight, using a cleaner with enzymes.

Are my animals at risk of contracting any illnesses?

We always advise a foster to be vigilant in cleaning up accidents, washing hands and bedding, and watching for symptoms of illness.  It is best to keep your foster pet away from your resident pet for at least 7 days after they leave Harris County Pets.  Our pets are vaccinated and dewormed on intake but sometimes a foster pet will become ill after a few days.  Should your foster pet come down with an illness, please call us to schedule a foster wellness appointment.  Many illnesses our pets get are easily treated. 

What symptoms of illness should I watch for?

Animals can carry an array of diseases, however, if caught early, can be easily treated. Please contact us via the foster email should any of the following symptoms occur: nasal or ocular discharge, lethargy, lack of interest in food or water, watery stool, bloody diarrhea, or a hacking cough with or without the presence of mucus.

Should your foster exhibit any of these symptoms for an extended period of time or experience severe lethargy with no willingness to stand or walk, pale gums, or consistent vomiting and/or diarrhea, please contact our emergency line- do NOT wait until morning.

What if my foster has separation anxiety?

If your foster has separation anxiety, counterconditioning might reduce or resolve the problem. Counterconditioning is a treatment process that changes an animal’s fearful, anxious or aggressive reaction to a pleasant, relaxed one instead. For dogs with separation anxiety, counterconditioning focuses on developing an association between being alone and good things, like delicious food. To develop this kind of association, every time you leave the house, you can offer your dog a puzzle toy stuffed with food that will take him at least 20 to 30 minutes to finish.

For example, try giving your dog a KONG® stuffed with something really tasty, like low-fat cream cheese, spray cheese or low-fat peanut butter, frozen banana and cottage cheese, or canned dog food and kibble. A KONG can even be frozen so that getting all the food out takes even more of your dog’s time. Be sure to remove these special toys as soon as you return home so that your dog only has access to them and the high-value foods inside when he’s by himself.

What can I do to make my Foster more adoptable?

Our dogs and cats come with a variety of backgrounds. To make an animal more adoptable you can do the following:

  • Take a great photo of your foster pet- make the animal the clear focus, use a neutral background, and take in landscape mode (horizontal)
  • Teach your foster manners (no jumping on guests, using the litter box, socializing with other dogs, cats, and kids) 
  • Visibility!!  Post your foster pets on various social media sites. If there is an interested adopter, please let the foster department know
What if I cannot foster any longer?

We understand that life happens and we encourage you to try to network your foster in order to find another home. If you absolutely need to bring your foster back to us, he or she will be at risk of euthanasia unless another foster or adopter is found.

Is there a community where I can ask more detailed questions?

Yes! Please request to join our Volunteer & Foster group on Facebook at “Harris County Pets Volunteers and Fosters.” Your posts will require approval but the group is closely monitored so it will not take long to get answers. We are a family and want to help each other out!  We ask that you please keep posts and comments relevant to Harris County Pets. 

You can find our full Foster Policy and paperwork here. The original signed copy can be handed in when you arrive at our facility for your orientation and pick-up.

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