Frequently Asked Questions About Foster Care

I need community service hours for school and I love animals, but I’m not 18 years old yet. Can I be a foster parent volunteer?

Teenagers looking to fulfill community service hours for school are eligible to receive credit for hours spent fostering animals. However due to insurance issues and safety concerns, only individuals who are at least 18 can sign up as a foster parent. 

Young adults and children can help with the foster animals’ in the home, but adults must be the primary caregivers. Talk with your parents to see if fostering will work for your whole family as well as your individual school requirements. For more information about our youth service requirements, please contact the foster care program at 425.787.2500 x822 or email

How often does a foster animal need to be brought in for check-ups?

Foster parent volunteers need to transport animals to PAWS in Lynnwood, WA on a regular basis for vaccinations, vet checks, weight checks and spay and neuter surgeries. Vaccination appointments and weigh-ins for kittens and puppies are scheduled every two weeks. Veterinarian appointments are scheduled as needed for each animal, generally every 7-14 days.

What if I’m unavailable to foster an animal when you call?

We will simply call another foster family. We want to make sure you feel like you’ll be able to give the time needed, so we don’t pressure you into taking an animal. You can foster as little or as much as you want. If you can’t foster this time around, we’ll just call you the next time.

Will a foster animal have accidents or cause damage?

Foster animals, like any other companion animal in your home, may destroy carpeting, drapes, clothing and other valuable items. Young animals are more likely to have accidents in the home based on their age. Preparing your home and the area the animals will stay in by removing valuable items and providing enrichment items (toys, climbing towers for cats, etc.) can prevent most accidents, but not all of them.

Do I need to keep foster animals separate from my pets?

Foster animals should be isolated from your own companion animals for the health and safety of both the foster animal and your own companions. A separate room or enclosed area, ideally with no carpet, often works best (like a bathroom, bedroom with no carpet or a laundry room).

Will PAWS treat my pet if he is injured or becomes sick because of a foster animal?

PAWS and all animal shelters in Washington State are prohibited by law from giving veterinary care to privately owned animals. If your animal becomes sick or injured due to interactions with a PAWS foster animal, you will be responsible for all medical care required.

I love the idea of being a foster parent, but I’m worried about how I’ll feel when it’s time for the animal to be brought back to the shelter for adoption.

It can be difficult to let go once you have become emotionally attached to a foster animal. Be prepared for tears and some heartache when you bring your foster animals back to PAWS, but remember foster families play a crucial part in helping unwanted animals get the permanent, loving homes they deserve.

Are foster animals ever euthanized?

Sometimes adoption is not an option for animals with some illnesses or behavior problems even after the animal has been fostered. PAWS will determine if other options, including transfer to an animal rescue group, are appropriate and available. Knowing that an animal you have fostered may need to be humanely euthanized can be very hard to handle. Please remember that the PAWS foster care team is always here for support, and will discuss the decision with you as appropriate.

What if a friend or family member wants to adopt my foster animal?

Thank you for helping find homes for your foster animals. Please keep in mind however, that the animals will not be available until their medical work, including spay or neuter surgery, is completed. Please refer interested adopters to the PAWS adoption page to start the adoption process.

What if I want to adopt the animal I’m fostering?

This can happen when foster parents fall in love with the animals. If you wish to adopt a foster animal, please call the PAWS Foster Care Program at 425.787.2500 x822 or email to start the adoption conversation as soon as you have made the decision. Your foster animal may already have an “adoption hold” for another person, and that information will be shared with you. Having available foster homes is crucial for saving lives, so we ask foster parents to consider how adopting a foster animal may affect their ability to continue fostering other animals in the future.