Many are hesitant about becoming a pet foster parent because they are afraid of having a broken heart when they give them back. And I get it! I’ve been fostering animals for about five years with the Asheville Humane Society, include heart worm positive dogs, adult cats who needed a break from the stressful shelter environment and month old kittens who need to gain weight before their spay and neuter surgeries. Even fostered a bunny one time! And trust me, there are certain foster animals who I bond with more so than others. So many times I bring them back to the shelter and I can’t help but think, “Are they going to think I’m abandoning them?” It can be heartbreaking. But only if you let it.

Despite naturally becoming sad when I have to say bye, I remember all of the many positives to fostering an animal and the main goal: to help as many animals as I can. So if you’re thinking of becoming a foster parent but think you’ll be a “foster fail” (hey, that’s fine too!) or maybe you’re a foster parent yourself and need some words to re-energize your passion for fostering, here are just some of the many reasons for why foster parents are able to say bye to their foster animals.


You Gave Them a Warm, Loving Temporary Home

This is the biggest reason for fostering. Shelters across the country desperately need dedicated foster parents for animals who can’t be adopted immediately. Such as the animal too young, have medical or behavioral issues or simply the shelter is overcrowded. 5,500 animals are killed in shelters across America every single day. Fosters are vital to combat the pet overpopulation crisis.

Maya was one of my first fosters. She was heartworm positive and stayed with me during her treatment. Once healthy, she found a wonderful forever family!


Regardless if you open up your home to a dog, cat, bird, small pets, pig, any pet, you can feel wonderful knowing you have saved a life and cared for a pet who will soon find his or her forever home. Because of you and your selfless kindness, you provided a deserving shelter animal with a loving home while they waited for their forever family to find them. Not only that but because you fostered an animal, another spot in the shelter opened up, allowing the shelter to save another animals life.

Fostering is Temporary 

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. “Fostering being temporary is exactly the problem! I don’t want to say bye after just a short while!” Okay, but hear me out, fostering being temporary is a good thing. Knowing that an animal will only be with you for a short while can make it easier to find the time to take care of them. Most people can take care of an animal for a short while, as compared to handling the responsibility for a lifetime.


BeBe was part of a 17-cat rescue after their previous owner could no longer care for them. BeBe was used as a breeder/show cat and understandably, was terrified of people. She was in foster care to help her de-stress and learn that not all humans are awful. 


With fostering, you’re basically the cool Grandma or Grandpa who gets to spoil the animals and once they are healthy and socialized, they get to find their forever home. And then the shelter will give you another foster. And then the cycle keeps on going and you become the awesome foster parent you were meant to be.


You Can Choose How to Foster

Many you only want to foster poodles. Or only neo-natal kittens. Or maybe you only want to foster a bunny. No problem! Whether you only want to foster kittens or you can only foster for a month at a time, most shelters are more than happy to accommodate. Just, of course, give them a heads up about any changes so they can adjust accordingly!

Bailey was heartworm positive and was in foster care during his treatment. He was honestly one of the happiest-go-lucky dogs I’ve ever met and I’m grateful for the time I had with him!


It will depend on your local animal shelter’s foster program, but with the Asheville Humane Society, I simply email when I’m ready to foster again and usually that same day I can go pick up my new furry friend. It’s easy, fun and rewarding!

You Get Lots of Cuddles 

Who can say no to cuddles? And even if you aren’t the recipient of the cuddles all the time, animals are just down right adorable all on their own. Who wouldn’t want to walk into a room and see all of this cuteness? It’s almost too much to handle. Almost.

Lucy and Ethel loved to cuddle together. It’s amazing to see foster animals personalities come through once they realize they are safe from whatever trauma they experienced prior. 


Plus, when you foster an animal, the shelter or organization should provide basic needs for all animals like food, bedding, toys, ID tags, kitty litter, medications, and veterinary care. You are welcome to buy special treats, toys or anything else for your foster! Check with the shelter to see what supplies they provide.

Learn How to Be a Foster Parent

Bottom line: yes, saying bye to a foster animal can certainly be heartbreaking but think of the bigger picture: you’re helping animals! So if you’re thinking of becoming a foster parent, know that each organization will have their own set of requirements and paperwork for becoming a pet foster parent, so you will need to check with the shelter you want to foster for. There are common need-to-knows that include making sure you meet foster requirements, being physically able to care for an animal, and attending an orientation and foster training.

The foster program will select a good match for you, your family and other pets you may have in the home based on meeting and the answers given on your foster application. From educating yourself on the kind of animal to the foster pet’s individual needs, the things you need to know before becoming a pet foster parent can be similar to that of adopting.


Make sure you provide a quiet space where your foster pet can have a bit of alone time if needed, especially if you have other pets in your home. Always introduce pets to each other slowly so no one becomes overwhelmed, and know that there can be an adjustment period when another animal is introduced into a home. The organization you’re fostering for will be able to provide helpful tips that can make the transition easy for everyone involved.

Some say they could never foster a pet because it would be too hard to say goodbye when the pet is adopted but consider the alternative. It may be hard to say goodbye to the animal you’ve bonded with, but it’s important to remember that by opening your home, you are saving a life — and each pet you foster is a new life saved. You become an important part of the mission to save homeless pets by not only giving that individual animal hope but by making a difference for all animals.

Any other foster parents want to add to how they are able to say bye to their fosters? Leave a common below and share your experiences!