Become a Foster

The Anti-Cruelty Society’s Foster Program


Choosing to become a foster parent is a decision that can feel overwhelming and exhilarating all at once. Inviting an unknown animal into your home for short-term care is one of the most rewarding ways that you can help a pet in need, and by choosing to join the foster team, you are choosing to save lives. Learn more about what it takes to join this committed team of volunteers by reviewing the information below.

 About the Program

Animals are nominated for foster candidate status by our team of behavior specialists and veterinarians. Our staff provides foster volunteers with direction on what care is needed for each individual animal and an estimate of how long the animal will be in their homes.

Foster parents are notified of an animal’s availability for placement through our official Foster Candidate page, which is updated by staff members on a regular basis. Our foster support team also provides regular check-ins with foster parents that have animals in their care, providing an opportunity for them to ask questions about the animal’s behavior and health on a regular basis.

Prospective fosters are encouraged to review our comprehensive Foster Manual for an inside look at the program before applying to join the team. If you are interested in fostering, but find that caring for pets with outstanding needs daunting, consider joining our Adoption Ambassadors program. Additional information about this unique project can be found here.

Program Requirements

  • Pet care experience
  • Access to a reliable source of transportation
  • Primary caretaker must be at least 18 years of age
  • Basic computer skills and an active email address
  • Renters must provide landlord’s name and phone number
  • Fosters with their own pets must provide proof of vaccination
  • All adult members of the household must consent and agree to provide foster care

Additional Qualifications

Become a Foster

Step 1: Complete a Foster Program Application

To join our dedicated team of foster volunteers complete our Foster Application.

Step 2: Complete Foster Training

After we review your candidacy for the Foster Program, a member of our staff will contact you regarding next steps, the first is to prepare for training by reading the Foster Manual and watching our virtual volunteer orientation.

During your foster orientation, our staff will teach you the ins and outs of how to select, pick-up, care for, and return your foster animal. You will also learn valuable training techniques, as well as what to do in the event of an emergency. Foster orientation also includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the Society.

Step 3: Schedule First Foster

Once you have completed foster orientation, you will be in touch with our foster support team to schedule your first care cycle. At the time of your first pick-up, you will also be asked to pay a one-time $25 foster fee, which will be applied toward your foster license registration with the state of Illinois.

If you have questions regarding our traditional foster track, please send them to


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I join the foster program if I have pets or children at home?

Yes! We are always looking for a variety of foster homes so that we can make the best foster matches possible. Some animals may benefit from being placed in the care of a foster who has other animals. In other cases, being in a home with children may build additional socialization skills.

How long are animals typically in foster care?

On average, most Society foster animals are in care for about 4 weeks. When placing a cat or dog on the Foster Candidate list our staff provide an estimate of the anticipated foster length of stay. If an animal becomes ill while in foster and requires additional time in your care you will be given the option to extend their stay or bring the animal back for re-fostering with another family.

What if my foster and I don’t “click?”

Each animal is a unique individual and has a history we may not completely know. When sending them into foster care we prepare you as best we can – but situations and behaviors sometimes arise that may make the animal unsuitable for continued care in your household. If you should need to bring an animal back sooner do not consider it a defeat. The information you discovered, even if you only had the animal for a short period of time, will be invaluable to our staff.

Do I have to go to a private veterinarian for follow-up care of a foster?

No – our on-site veterinary clinic is open to all foster animals who are in your care and we ask that all foster animals be serviced by our staff. There is no need to take your pet to a private veterinarian, unless we are closed and your foster pet is having a medical emergency.

Am I responsible for finding my foster animal their forever home?

Only foster volunteers who take part in the Adoption Ambassadors program are required to recruit their animal an adopter. Other foster providers are not required to recruit an adopter, but we always appreciate a foster’s assistance!

Can I adopt my foster?

Yes! We love “foster failures!”

Do you euthanize animals? Are you a no-kill shelter?

The Anti-Cruelty society is an open admission—or open door—humane society. This means that we will not turn away any animal that comes to our doors. Many of these animals are healthy, good natured dogs and cats who go up for adoption—and there are no time limits on how long they can stay up for adoption. However, there are animals that come to a shelter sick, severely injured, or too aggressive or behaviorally unsound to be placed up for adoption at that time.  Sometimes, these animals can be rehabilitated but sometimes they cannot. In this case, we strongly believe that euthanasia is the most humane alternative to an existence of suffering and pain or being limited to life in a cage.

While the phrase “no-kill” can stir many emotions in people, it can also be very confusing and misunderstood. There are many good shelters that call themselves “no-kill,” just as there are many fine shelters—such as The Anti-Cruelty Society—that are “open admission.” Ultimately, much of the confusion about “no-kill” stems from the fact that there is no universally accepted definition of the term. One organization’s idea of no-kill can vary widely from another’s. Therefore, it is important to look into the issues surrounding the idea of no-kill in order to understand the ways in which organizations help animals.


Thank you to our partners whose support makes our work possible