Foster an Animal

Thank you for your interest in becoming a PAWS foster parent volunteer. PAWS saves more than 2,000 animals each year through our Foster Care Program.

Foster parents provide temporary care for cats, kittens, dogs and puppies in their own King County and greater-Snohomish area homes. Some animals need as little as two weeks of care, while others may need care for up to three months. 

Our greatest foster needs are:

Fostering is flexible enough for most lifestyles and PAWS will custom-match the animals to each foster home. By offering your time, energy and home to an animal in need, you prepare the animal for adoption into a permanent home as well as help prevent overcrowding in our shelter. PAWS is always looking for more foster homes, especially throughout the busy spring and summer seasons.

Most common reasons cats and dogs need foster care:

  • They are too young to be spayed or neutered and adopted out into permanent homes. When kittens and puppies are eight weeks old and weigh at least two pounds, they can be spayed or neutered and made available for adoption.
  • They are nursing a litter of kittens or puppies. Although the shelter is a safe environment, it is not the best for raising babies.
  • They are being treated for injuries or illnesses.

PAWS provides: All veterinary care and medicine for foster animals, plus plenty of support to foster parent volunteers.

Foster parent volunteers provide: Time, pet supplies (e.g. cat litter, food), a place in their home and lots of love.

How foster care works

  • When PAWS receives animals who are not ready to be put up for adoption, we contact foster parent volunteers. If a foster volunteer is not available to foster at that time, we simply try another person. There will be plenty of other opportunities to foster, so there is no pressure to take an animal. 
  • Foster parents come to our shelter located in Lynnwood, Washington to pick up the foster animal(s) to take home. At that time, volunteers receive information about the animal’s condition and needs.
  • Foster parents may need to bring the animal to PAWS periodically to be examined by our veterinarian, receive vaccinations or other treatment.
  • Once the foster period is over, the foster volunteer returns the animal(s) to PAWS.
  • PAWS’ medical team will complete final steps necessary to prepare the animal for adoption.

Check out these frequently asked questions about fostering.

Get started

If you are interested in volunteering with PAWS, please follow these steps:

  1. Be of age. The primary caregiver of the foster animal must be at least 18 years old. However, young people can help at home and potentially receive school credit. Inquire more about school credit at the orientation.
  2. Be in the area. Foster volunteers must be able to get to our shelter in Lynnwood, Washington on a regular basis. Please consider the potential commute before applying to volunteer.
  3. Register for Foster Info Session & Training. Choose the class time that works for you and submit an online application to tell us a bit about yourself. If you have any questions about the process or signing up, please give us a call at 425.787.2500 x822 or email foster@paws.orgPlease Note: We require that the primary caregiver, and therefore primary contact person, for the foster family be the one to attend the Foster Parent Info Session & Training. This person will need to provide an email address and phone number that is checked on a regular basis in order to fulfill communication requirements for fostering.
  4. Attend the Foster Info Session & Training. You will learn about program expectations, basic medical information, and have all your questions answered!
  5. Pay a one-time registration fee of $10 and complete a background check.
  6. Start saving lives. PAWS will match you with the foster animals that suit your lifestyle.

Please note that PAWS cannot accommodate those seeking to fulfill court-ordered community service.

Apply Now!