Frequently Asked Questions About Fostering

Why does Multnomah County Animal Services have a foster program?

Multnomah County Animal Services developed the foster pet program to address the care of special needs animals that can not be done in the shelter environment. If animals are too young for adoption or are sick, they cannot remain in the shelter environment. Young animals will get sick and sick animals spread disease to healthy ones.

MCAS implemented a foster care program to increase the chances of these animals to be adopted. Animals are released on a temporary basis to foster caregivers who care for the animals until they can be spayed or neutered, eat solid food or heal from an injury or illness. We also ask that the foster caregiver make every attempt to find a permanent home for the foster animal. The goal of the foster pet program is to ultimately find a permanent home for the animal.

The dog foster program specializes in working with dogs from the adoption kennel who need further socialization, evaluation in a home setting or time out from the stresses of being in a shelter environment.

Who can foster animals?

You must be at least 18 years of age with animal care and handling experience, suitable accommodations for the animal, and a willingness to personally and financially commit to caring for a special needs animal.

What are the foster caregiver’s responsibilities?

Care of the animals

MCAS expects all animals held in foster homes to be welcomed as a member of the family. Foster caregivers must be able to provide a clean, safe environment in which to care for the animal to prevent injury and the spread of disease. Food, water, shelter, cat litter, flea control, milk replacer, exercise, socialization, training, and any medications not dispensed by the shelter are the financial responsibility of the foster caregiver, as MCAS does not have the funding to provide these supplies outside the shelter.

Special considerations for fostering dogs

We require that foster caregivers of dogs have a fenced yard, or a dog run with some form of shelter. If you rent your home, landlord approval is also needed.

Special considerations for fostering cats

All cats fostered from our shelter must be kept indoors at all times to prevent injury and spread of disease. If you are introducing a new cat to a household with existing pets, keep the cat separate from the rest of the animals for a day or two so that it may adjust to its surroundings. If you rent your home, landlord approval is also needed.

Veterinary care

Foster caregivers are expected to use the health care services offered by MCAS. With a veterinarian on staff and certified vet technicians, MCAS provides health exams, vaccinations, spay/neuter surgery and diagnostic services for animals in foster care. Medications prescribed by our animal health team will be provided at no cost.

Finding the animal a home

Foster caregivers will make every attempt to find a permanent home for the foster animal in their care.

What are Multnomah County Animal Services responsibilities?

MCAS is responsible for determining which animals are available for the foster pet program. We also provide the following services:

Health screen

MCAS performs a health screen on foster animals that includes basic vaccinations, worming, a FELV/FIV screen, and follow-up exams arranged by appointment. If the animal meets age requirements, it will receive the following: microchip, identification, spay/neutering, and certificate for free health exam honored by a list of local veterinarians.

Behavior assessment

MCAS performs a behavior assessment for dogs.


MCAS offers guidance when the foster caregiver picks up the foster animal. The volunteer Foster Coordinators and MCAS staff will continue to guide the foster caregiver through the process and will provide educational resources for foster caregivers to use in caring for the foster animal.

Adoption outreach

MCAS provides assistance to foster caregivers in finding potential adopters for the foster animals in their care through a variety of resources including the shelter’s foster board and listings on our web site. Foster caregivers provide information about their foster animal(s) along with a photo. MCAS has outreach adoption opportunities in local pet stores and community events. Foster caregivers may participate in these outreach activities to show their animal(s) in a public setting.

What do I do when I find someone who wants to adopt the foster animal in my custody?

As a foster caregiver, you will be asked to pre-screen potential adopters by talking to the potential adopter about their household, current pets, facilities for the animals, etc… You will also have copies of MCAS adoption applications for the potential adopter to fill out. Direct the potential adopter to the shelter for an adoption interview with one of our adoption counselors. Adopters must be approved by MCAS staff before you can release an animal to an adopter. Staff will communicate to you how and when to release your foster animal to an adopter. At many of the adoption outreach events, there are adoption counselors who can conduct an adoption interview and complete an adoption.

Do all foster animals get adopted?

We do our very best to place all foster animals into permanent homes. Unfortunately, not all foster care pets survive. Sometimes medical or health issues interfere. We will communicate with you as we together give these animals a second chance and will be open with you about the options.

How do I get started as a foster caregiver?

Potential foster caregivers must complete a foster caregiver application, attend a foster orientation, and go through a foster care interview by one of MCAS Foster Counselors. This gives you basic instructions regarding how the foster program works and how to properly care for the animal(s) in your charge. For more information, contact the volunteer coordinator at (503) 988-7387 x25255 for an application and schedule of foster caregiver orientations.

Contact the Foster Coordinator

Jennifer Sparkman

(503) 988-6670