Foster a Pet

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is often seeking responsible and patient individuals who are willing to open up their home to animals in need.

Taking an animal out of one of our Animal Care and Adoption Centers opens up precious space for other animals in need. You can help us expand our services and find more animals loving homes by becoming an ARL foster.

We are often most in need of fosters that are willing to provide a warm and loving environment for animals with medical or behavioral concerns, since these are usually the animals that require fostering before adoption. The length of commitment varies by individual animal and can range from a week to several months.

Why Foster a Pet?

  • Fostering saves lives. Fostering a pet frees up valuable space in ARL’s Animal Care & Adoption Center for more pets in need. It can also help give animals a place to thrive outside of the busy shelter environment.
  • Fostering is inexpensive. ARL covers the animal’s vaccinations, veterinary exams, spay or neuter procedure, medications, and other care as needed. We can also provide food, supplies, and training at no cost.
  • Fostering is educational. ARL provides trainings and one-on-one counseling as necessary to help prepare fosters to best care for the animal’s physical and behavioral needs.
  • Fostering is low commitment. Not sure if you are ready to adopt, or maybe you are not in a place to adopt just yet? Fostering can help you understand how a pet fits into your lifestyle, without the lifelong commitment.
  • Fostering is fun. Fostering will open up your social circles to endless possibilities. Aside from the unconditional companionship you will receive from your foster pet, fostering is a great way to get more involved in your community and make new connections.
Submit a foster application

Foster Features

The below animals are currently available for foster and adoption

Leo, a white husky


Leo is a sweet 6-year-old boy that loves outdoor adventures that include lots of sniffing! He can live in an urban or suburban environment as long as his family provides him with sufficient exercise and stimulation. As active as Leo is, he is an equally amazing snuggler and can enjoy relaxation time as much as active time. Leo enjoys occasional playdates with other dogs but he isn’t interested in living with dogs or very small children.

Apply to foster Leo

Foster Animals with Medical Concerns

We occasionally have animals that need extra special care. These foster animals may require exercise restriction, daily medications or medicated baths during their time in foster. Most medical fosters have their foster animals in their home for 2-4 weeks. Typical medical concerns foster parent duties include:

        • Providing a warm and loving environment for their foster pet
        • Following directions from ARL’s community shelter medicine team on caring for your foster pet’s medical concerns
        • Administering any medications or treatments recommended by our community shelter medicine team
        • Bringing foster pets back to the ARL for follow up rechecks for their conditions

Cat Behavior Foster Parents 

While many of our cats are off to their new homes within a matter of days, some need more time and patience. Most behavior foster homes have their foster cats in their homes for 2-4 weeks.

longhaired tabby cat in a cat cubby

Typical Behavior Foster Parent duties include:

      • Willingness to learn about and work with with under-socialized or high arousal cats
        • Under-socialized cats: these cats typically did not receive consistent positive interactions with humans as kittens and may hiss, swat and run away from humans.
        • High arousal cats: these cats have a tendency to get overly aroused by some interactions with humans and typically do not tolerate prolonged petting.
      • Offering appropriate exercise and socialization
      • Offering their foster cat a quiet area in the home where the pet can be away from noise and activity
      • Isolating foster pets from household pets, especially in the beginning
      • Being willing to be patient with potentially slow progress
      • Working with suggestions from ARL staff on how to set your foster cat up for success
Submit a foster application

Dog Behavior Foster Parents

dog sitting on a couch

While many of our dogs are off to their new homes within a matter of days, some need more time and patience. We often have rambunctious canines that are struggling in the shelter and need a structured home environment. Most behavior fosters will have their foster dog in their home for 2-4 weeks.

Typical Behavior Foster Parent duties include:

      • Be open to using and learning about force-free training methods
      • Offering appropriate exercise and socialization
      • Open to:
        • Highly exuberant dogs: dogs with lots of energy may also jump and mouth either trying to play or get attention.
        • Dogs with separation anxiety: dogs with separation anxiety may bark or howl, be destructive, and urinate and/or defecate in the house when left alone.
        • Dogs with possessive behavior: dogs with possessive behavior may show teeth, growl and snap when things that are important to the dog are touched or approached.
      • Working with large and sometimes rowdy dogs
      • Having patience to deal with housebreaking mishaps or chewing incidents
      • Understanding that many of our dogs would do best in a home without other pets or young children
      • Working with suggestions from ARL staff on how to set your foster dog up for success
Submit a foster application

Current Foster Care Opportunities

ARL’s foster care opportunities vary depending on the current need, so do not hesitate to submit an application.

Steps to Becoming a Foster Parent


Fill out an application


See if you’re a match

We review all foster care applications to match people with the appropriate animal cases since there are animals with various foster care needs. If you’re a match, you will be contacted by an ARL staff member within 2 weeks*.


Get trained

Once your application is accepted, you can attend foster orientations that will prepare you for fostering your first pet.

*Please note: ARL’s foster care availability varies depending on the current need and the submission of an application does not guarantee a match.

Volunteer walking a black and white dog down a red A-frame


For questions regarding ARL’s volunteer or foster care programs, contact Tia Trabucco, ARL’s Foster Care Placement Coordinator, at ttrabucco@arlboston.org or (617) 426-9170 ext. 207.