Foster Care Program

Thank you for your interest in becoming a foster parent for the Whatcom Humane Society. Hundreds of animals receive care annually through our volunteer foster care program. Volunteer foster parents are a critical part of our animal care program at the Whatcom Humane Society. Without our dedicated foster parents, we would not be able to offer many animals a second chance at finding a permanent, responsible and loving home.

WHS foster parents provide temporary care for cats, kittens, dogs, puppies and other animals in their own homes. Some animals need as little as two weeks of care, while others may need care for up to three months.

By offering your time, energy and home to an animal in need, you prepare the animal for adoption as well as help prevent overcrowding in our shelter. While fostering requires time and patience, the rewards are immeasurable. WHS is always looking for more volunteer foster homes, especially throughout the busier spring and summer seasons when we see an increase in our animal population.

If you are interested in fostering, please carefully review the information on this page to determine if our foster program is a good fit for your interest and lifestyle.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding The WHS Foster Care Program

Why are foster homes needed?

The Whatcom Humane Society is an open-admission shelter. We turn no animal away regardless of the animal’s age, breed, physical or medial condition or temperament. Last year, we cared for over 4,000 homeless, unwanted and abused animals. Many of these animals need temporary foster care.

How is it determined which animals are placed into foster care?

The most common reasons animals are placed into foster care are:

  1. Underage kittens and puppies that are too young/small to be placed up for adoption
  2. Cats or dogs who are nursing a litter of kittens or puppies
  3. Animals who are suffering from an injury or medical condition
  4. Animals who are suffering from kennel stress/behavior issues

What is involved in fostering an animal for WHS?

Being a foster caregiver involves feeding, housing, grooming, and playing with the animals. Sometimes, however, that’s just the tip of the iceberg for foster parents. Many rescued animals are sick, stressed, or frightened, and may require special care.

The health and welfare of all individuals in your home — human and animal — must be considered before bringing in a foster animal. Fostering a homeless pet should never be considered unless your home environment is happy, safe, healthy, and spacious enough to nurture the foster pet adequately.

Fostering a shelter pet is a 24/7 job. Although you may not be physically interacting with the pet every second of the day, you will be responsible around the clock for the pet’s safety, comfort, and general well-being, and this responsibility alone can be exhausting.

The amount of personal attention needed will vary greatly from pet to pet, but you can expect to spend anywhere from three to seven hours a day interacting with a foster pet, and even more if you’re planning to foster puppies or kittens. Teaching dogs or cats the lessons they will need to become happy, thriving, lifelong members of another family is the essence of fostering, and this takes time and patience.

Veterinary care for WHS foster animals is done by the WHS veterinary clinic.

NOTE: The minimum age to foster animals for the Whatcom Humane Society is 18 years of age. If you rent, your must obtain permission from your landlord to bring a WHS animal onto his/her property.

Are foster animals ever euthanized?

Yes. WHS staff will make every attempt to provide quality veterinary care and treatment to injured foster animals and place foster animals into permanent, responsible and loving homes. However, WHS can make no guarantee and there is always a chance that animals that have been in foster care may be euthanized (humanely put to death). WHS staff are always available to discuss animal’s disposition with foster caregivers and volunteers.

How To Join The WHS Volunteer Foster Care Team

If you are interested in volunteering and fostering with WHS, please follow these steps:

  1. Read through the Foster Care Handbook
  2. Attend a Volunteer Information Session.  Volunteer Information Sessions are held once a month and last approximately 90 minutes. You can find dates for upcoming sessions on our volunteer page or by contacting the volunteer manager at
  3. Fill out a Foster Care Application – available at the WHS New Volunteer Information Session.
  4. Contact the Foster Care Coordinator to set up a Training Session.  Basic handling and care will be covered during training.  Once you have completed the training session, you will need to agree to and sign the Foster Parent Agreement.
  5. Schedule a home visit with our Foster Care Coordinator.
  6. Start Saving Lives. WHS will match you with the foster animals that best suit your experience and lifestyle.

For more information, please contact the WHS foster care coordinator at: