Fostering FAQ

If you are interested in fostering, please fill out our Foster Application.

What is fostering all about? 

Fostering a rescue animal means that you agree to take a rescue animal into your home and care for it until SHH can find it a loving forever home. These animals are all in need of TLC! Most of our animals are saved directly from animal shelters where they are at risk of being euthanized.  They may be scared after their journey and need a safe place to decompress.

What will be expected of me as a foster home?

Everything you need to care for your foster dog or cat (crate, food, bowl, litter box, etc.) will be provided by Secondhand Hounds. The most important part of your job will be to help reintroduce your foster animal to a home environment by giving him/her some basic training, socialization and lots of love.

When a potential adopter contacts Secondhand Hounds, we will review the application to meet our standards. The approved applicants will be emailed to you and we expect you contact them to arrange a meeting. These meetings can be performed at your house, their house, or a neutral location (whatever you feel comfortable with). We give our volunteers a say in who they place their foster animal with. So, if you feel as though someone is not the best match, let us know, and we will find a different home for your foster.

It is a good idea to socialize your foster dog as much as possible to eliminate fear of new situations/people/dogs. A great way to do this is to go to Petco or Petsmart on a weekly basis and let people approach your foster dog. Always be careful to read signs of a fearful dog. If the dog cowers or shakes or growls, ask the person to step back. As soon as the dog seems more trusting (tail wagging, approaching the person on their own), let the person pet your pup. Another way to help a scared dog become more trusting is to carry treats with you and have strangers feed your dog. Other tips are available; just ask!



How long does one typically foster a dog or cat before it finds a forever home?

Adult animals are typically in foster homes anywhere from two weeks to three months. There are rare cases where an animal can be in a foster home for more than eight months. Puppies/kittens are usually in foster care for 1-4 weeks.

Can I choose what dog/cat I want to foster?

You can give us criteria for what type of dog/cat you want to foster. After you let us know your criteria (i.e. age, size, gender) we will do our best to match you with a perfect foster animal. If we have several dogs needing rescue, we may send you pictures and descriptions of each. In this case, you can choose your exact foster dog. We also post on our Secondhand Hounds Foster Resources Facebook page, listing the animals needing a foster home.

Where do the dogs/cats come from?

Our animals are rescued from high kill shelters all around the Midwest. We have contacts that regularly visit these facilities and look for animals that need our help. We have developed great relationships with shelter workers who contact us when they have animals in danger of being euthanized. If you are interested in more information about your specific foster, we will do our best to let you know where he/she comes from, and his/her background story if possible. We also get some of our animals from owner surrenders—owners that can no longer provide care for their animals, but want to make sure the best possible home is found for them.



What does the rescue provide for foster parents?

Each foster parent will receive the following: food, bowls, leash, bedding, collar, crate, toys, treats, and any needed medications.Cat fosters will also receive litter, litter box, scratching posts, etc. Please let us know when you get low on food so we can get more to you in a timely manner!

How do I integrate the foster into my household?

It depends on your personal situation. Sometimes this will take place at your home, the home of the temporary foster, or the SHH office. In the case of kids, I will either come to your house and let the kids know how to approach a dog, or your kids can come with you to pick up their new foster. If you have fostered in the past, or are very familiar with dog behavior, you are welcome to introduce them in a way you see fit.

Younger children should be introduced slowly to determine the compatibility with the new foster animal. It is recommended that an adult supervise all interactions between foster animals and young children. Children need to be taught the right way to treat an animal and what it means to respect an animal’s cues and need for space.

Here is an article from the ASPCA on introducing your dog to a new dog.

What if the foster animal does not work with my children/dogs/cats?

We ask that you give us one week notice for us to find a new foster. If you want tips on ways to make transitions more smooth, etc., feel free to email us. We are always available to help with questions! If your kids or pets are in immediate danger, we will get your foster animal out of your home as soon as possible.

Am I putting my personal pets in danger by agreeing to foster?

Because our dogs and cats come from shelter situations, they have unknown histories and it’s quite possible they haven’t had their medical needs properly met. They sometimes have kennel cough (the equivalent of a human cold) and worms, among other possibilities. Before we bring the dogs/puppies and cats/kittens into a foster situation, we de-worm them, vaccinate them, and Frontline them. It is always a good idea to have your animals up to date on vaccines and Frontline before you begin to foster. If your animal(s) do get fleas or worms due to the foster animal, we will treat your dog/cat at no expense.

What kinds of behavior problems might I expect?

We do our best to eliminate the possibility of taking human or dog aggressive dogs. Still, some issues may arise. Possibilities include separation anxiety (i.e. crying or barking when left alone), marking (with urine), chewing, house training, barking, and dog aggression. We have many ways of managing these problems until they are resolved and our experienced volunteers are happy to offer advice.

How do you say goodbye to your foster animals?

The hardest one to let go is the first one, but we promise it does get easier. There are innumerable amounts of animals in need, and those animals all deserve a great foster homes like yours, too. Our foster volunteers have all been through “letting go”, and we can help prepare you before, during and after.

What happens if I can no longer foster the animal I have?

Secondhand Hounds asks that you allow us at least one week to find a new foster. We will do our best to find a foster home for your animal in a timely manner.

What if I am planning on traveling in a month? Can I still foster?

Of course! Just let us know your plans at least one week in advance (the more time the better!) and we will make arrangements for a temporary or new foster home for your foster animal.

If I spend money on my foster animal, will I be reimbursed?

Generally, no since we have all the supplies you need at our office!  Chances are, we can get the same supplies for a lot cheaper if you need something. If you choose to purchase your own supplies, you may deduct them on your taxes.  For a tax receipt, please email and Courtney can assist!



Who pays the medical expenses of the foster animals?

All approved medical expenses for the foster dogs are paid by Secondhand Hounds. Please get verbal approval of any medical appointments, etc. from Sara (dogs) or Jen (cats) before action is taken. In the case of an emergency, call Sara/Jen  on the way to the emergency vet to update her on what is going on. In many cases, Sara/Jen can get the animal seen at our participating vet for a fraction of the cost of a non-affiliated emergency vet.

What if I have a medical emergency with my foster animal?

Please only call in the following circumstances:

  • Immediate veterinary care is needed (emergency vet will be utilized, but Sara/Jen will be able to call in our rescue’s credit card information so you will not be billed). This would be: severe bleeding/wounds, broken bones, excessive vomiting, obvious signs of pain, animal has run away or animal has been in a fight. 
  • Immediate danger to other animals or people (you will be advised to bring your foster dog to our office, but handling procedures, codes, etc. will be provided by Sara/Jen)
  • Please leave a voicemail for the vetting contact and your call will be returned immediately if it is deemed an emergency.  Otherwise, please wait for an email which can take up to 24 hours.  If the status changes and your foster animal appears in distress, feel free to call again and leave an updated message.  If you leave a voicemail please also send a follow up email to (Dogs) or (Cats)

EMERGENCY CONTACT (10pm-7am): Please email if it is outside of emergency hours.   Only call if it is potentially life-threatening.

DOG EMERGENCY CONTACT   Sara Anderson at 612-978-8924.

CAT EMERGENCY CONTACT     Jen Swanson at 651-325-7629.

What if I have a routine vetting question? 

For any non-emergency vetting questions (for example: spay/neuter, routine vetting, nail trims, vetting being completed prior to adoption) please email the appropriate contact below:

DOGS – Kristi at

CATS – Jen at


How are animals adopted at SHH?

  • Your foster animal will be posted on our website as available for adoption – typically this happens on the Wednesday after they come into rescue.
  • SHH also hosts adoption events that you can attend with your foster animal so that members of the community can meet your amazing foster.
  • Fosters are welcome to adopt their foster animals, but once an applicant applies and meets the animal, the applicants have first right to adopt.
  • Prospective adopters submit an application for adoptable animals with details about them.
  • Emily, our adoption coordinator, forwards you applications that meet our requirements. You as the foster review applications for your foster animal and decide whether the applicant would be a good fit for your foster animal.
  • You contact the prospective adopters and schedule a meet and greet. If you approve of the adopters, you let us know and we’ll get going on completing the other steps in the adoption process (home visit, landlord approval, reference checks, payment).
  • We do ask that you respond to applicants in a timely manner, and let us know if you are interested in adopting once an application is received. Your foster animal will need to be up-to-date on vaccines and spayed or neutered before they can go to their new home.

How do I get my foster adopted faster? 

Write a bio for your foster animal!  This information should be sent to your foster coordinator ASAP as the bio and photos are very important to prospective adopters.

Need tips for writing a bio?  Check out this link!

You should also attend an adoption event to get your foster out into the public! We have events all over the Twin Cities!

If you are interested in fostering, please fill out our Foster Application