Dogtown: Fostering isn’t forever, but the love is

I mention fostering a lot here. So what’s the deal with fostering a dog? Fostering is taking a dog (or cat) into your home and treating it like your own for some period of time.

People foster for all kinds of situations. Puppies and kittens are fostered until they are old enough to be adopted. Sometimes the shelter gets “bottle babies” that are not with the mother but not old enough to be on their own either. These babies need special care to get proper nutrition and socialization.

Some animals arrive at the shelter with medical needs – orthopedic injuries, heartworm, skin issues – that need time to heal before they can go up for adoption. These medical fosters usually have a set time period for the foster, which can make the commitment easier.

And then there are our rescue animals, who need a different environment than the shelter to show their best sides and become adoptable. Our rescue, Redwood Pals Rescue, just handles dogs, but there are many good local cat rescues as well. The shelter can give information to anyone interested in fostering cats.

What makes a good foster home? Any place where a dog is welcomed and wanted can work. We have fosters who have other dogs, some who have cats and other animals, some with children. Homes with fenced yards are usually preferred, but people have fostered from apartments as well, as long as they can meet the animal’s exercise needs.

The most important features are consistency and patience, combined with a willingness to explore training options if there are any behavioral issues that need to be addressed. We are always learning along with our fosters and try to provide as much support as possible.

The "mole rat" puppies,

Why would anyone want to foster? There are several reasons. Fostering can provide the opportunity to have a dog in a non-permanent way. We have had several student fosters who have really enjoyed doing that. Some people like having a buddy for their dog, again without the long-term commitment. Families have enjoyed fostering puppies, and being socialized with kids is a plus for the pups. And then there are the wonderful fosters who want to help a dog that doesn’t do well in the shelter. We have had many successful adoptions of dogs that had been less than perfect in a kennel environment, but who had blossomed in foster homes. I know that we have enjoyed seeing our foster dogs thrive and go off to bring joy to another family.


We are always looking for fosters; please email us at [email protected] for more information.

Back in March, six puppies were discovered with terrible noncontagious mange. I described these pups as looking like naked mole rats. We were able to find several foster homes for them and get them out of the shelter for their recovery time. With diligent medical care and lots of TLC, the first of these pups are fully recovered and ready for adoption!

As you can imagine, after seeing a dog through something like this, it’s hard to imagine turning them over to the shelter and having them wait in a kennel for adoption. We are featuring them this week in hopes that they will be able to skip the step of returning to the shelter.


Star and Marti are 4-month-old Pit mix females. They are two of the sweetest puppies anyone could hope to meet! They charmed everyone at the veterinarian’s office last week as they were pronounced fully recovered.

Their foster mom describes them this way: “Star is full of energy and will be a great ‘go with’ dog. She is the more curious of the two pups and is always looking for something to do. Marti is the more relaxed homebody type. She will have fun anywhere her person is. Both girls are a bit shy at first, but once they warm up to you they are game for anything! These little girls are ready for their forever person(s) to take them home.”

The pups are socialized with cats, other dogs, and active children. They will be spayed, microchipped and fully vaccinated by the time of adoption. They will be adopted through the Humboldt County Animal Shelter, but if you would like to meet them now so they can bypass the step of going back into a kennel, please contact us at [email protected]. We will put you in touch with their foster mom for introductions.