Animal fosters play a crucial role in fulfilling the mission of the Oakville & Milton Humane Society. These volunteers selflessly open their homes and hearts to furry friends, making a positive difference in the lives of the pets and people who provide them care.

Heather White and her Golden RetrieverThis Q&A session features Heather White, the OMHS manager of animal care, community outreach and education, as she delves into the essential information about fostering the dogs, cats, and small animals that find their way into OMHS' care each year.

More than 200 animals were fostered out in 2023, and with the support of volunteers, that number will grow in 2024. If you’re considering becoming a foster, read on to learn more.

Q: What are the benefits of a foster program?
A: With the support of fosters, we can provide animals with a home environment while they wait for their permanent family to come along. A foster home setting is a low-stress environment that allows animals to thrive and increases their chances for adoption by helping prepare them for their new, forever home. The experience and social skills that animals gain from a foster home make them more attractive to people looking to adopt them in the future. 

Foster families provide valuable information regarding the animals that OMHS would never learn just by being in a regular household environment. Doorbells ring, people come and go, appliances like the vacuum and dishwasher make noise. The household experience with a foster helps to identify problems or concerns. We can work with the family to correct and modify these issues and increase the animal’s chances of being adopted. For foster families, this is a rewarding and life-changing experience.

Q:  Why do people choose to foster?
A: The foster family gets an opportunity to experience living with a wide variety of animal types and/or personalities. Fostering gives people the freedom to experience the love of a pet but still can take a break from fostering and go on vacation or choose not to foster when life gets busy. Fostering can be long-term or short-term depending on what the family is looking for.

Q: Can anyone be a foster parent?
A: All potential foster parents must be at least 18 years old, able to commit to the animal care plan, follow the directions of the OMHS team to ensure the pet’s well-being, and have access to or provide transportation to and from the shelter. Also, to prevent infectious diseases, fostering an animal from another organization while fostering an OMHS animal is not permitted. Before being accepted as foster parents, potential candidate must complete a volunteer application form, provide a police check, complete volunteer orientation forms and complete foster care training.

Q: How long does a foster family keep the foster animal?
A: We would like foster parents to commit to keeping the animals until they are matched with a potential adoptive parent and permanent home. Of course, this is discussed with the foster parents to ensure that they are comfortable with the timeframe. For dogs and cats, the timeframe may range from two weeks to six months or more. For small animals like rabbits, it may take a year to find an adoptive family. The timeframe is open for discussion and is based on the foster family’s requirements and the foster animal’s needs.

If the family ultimately decides that the animal they are fostering should become a permanent part of the family, they fully know what is involved before adopting because they have lived with the pet during the fostering period.

Q: What about expenses?
A: Thanks to generous donors, the Oakville & Milton Humane Society supplies everything fosters need to care for the animals, including food, supplies and medical care. Fostering allows families who may be hesitant to own an animal due to financial constraints to still have the opportunity to experience the joys of pet ownership.

Fosters must have their own transportation to pick up supplies or bring the animal back for any medical treatments or visits as required. Our foster families provide the love and daily care.

Fostering is a gift that gives
Providing a loving home to a vulnerable animal is a gift to the animal, to the family and to OMHS. Foster families help to increase the chances that an animal gets adopted in the future by providing a loving, social and interactive environment for animals to thrive. We are grateful!


Are you interested in becoming a foster parent for a dog, cat, or small animal? Click here to apply or learn more.