Foster a Puppy

Foster Puppies

Puppy Fostering

The San Francisco SPCA takes in underage puppies who are too young for adoption and need a nurturing environment until they are old enough for adoption. We are looking for volunteers who can commit to fostering puppies in their home for 1-4 weeks. These puppies are young and will require more individual attention and care then they would receive in a shelter setting, making the foster home an ideal placement. Foster volunteers care for the puppies in their home, ensuring that their basic needs for food, warmth, safety, and socialization are met, while closely monitoring their health and growth. As their caretakers, foster volunteers schedule and bring their puppies for regular vaccine appointments. We’ll provide you with food, supplies, and the support you need every step of the way.

Is Fostering Puppies for Me?

Fostering puppies is hard but also rewarding work.  Please ask yourself these questions below to see if fostering is a good fit for you and your family:

Are you able to spend quality time with your foster puppies?
We ask that you spend a minimum of 2 hours per day providing invaluable socialization and care for your puppies?

Are you able to commit to appointments ranging from once a week to every two weeks?
Foster puppies will need to be brought in for vaccine appointments every two weeks, and for additional medical appointments if they become ill.

Are you able to keep foster puppies in an enclosed area and separated from your own pets?
Foster puppies are young and curious and must be kept in an enclosed and easily sanitizable space, such as a bathroom or kitchen. Additionally, foster puppies must remain separate from resident pets and all other animals at all times.  

Can you agree to keep foster puppies protected from potential contagions?
Foster puppies are prohibited from meeting any animals on the street or park. Because the puppies are not yet fully vaccinated, they are susceptible to contracting potentially fatal canine diseases that are present in the environment, such as Parvovirus. For this reason, they are also prohibited from walking on the ground outside the home.

Are you aware that puppies require a good deal of clean-up and might cause damage in your home?
Foster puppies do make a mess sometimes, and may have diarrhea and/or vomit if they become ill. Your puppy space must also be sanitized between litters of foster puppies. Additionally, puppies can ruin carpeting, and other household items. 

Are you willing to work with our veterinary care system?
Please understand that only our medical team can treat foster animals.

Can you commit to spending the entire foster period with the animal?
A puppy’s foster period is generally 1-4 weeks, depending on their age, weight, and health. When agreeing to take foster puppies we ask that you commit to the entire duration. However, if an emergency or unforeseen situation does occur, you are able to return the puppies to the SF SPCA. 

Are you prepared to bring the animal back at the end of the foster period?
It can be difficult to bring back puppies once you have become emotionally attached, but there are always more puppies that need a foster home!

Did you know puppies often don’t sleep through the night?
Puppies, much like human babies, often do not sleep through the night. They may be up “crying” in the wee hours for 20 minutes (or longer), which can make it difficult to sleep if they are in close proximity to your bedroom.This is something to discuss with family members and roommates ahead of time.

Are you emotionally prepared to handle the death of one of your foster animals?
This can be very difficult, but the sad truth is that, though rare, it occasionally happens.

Do you love cuddling puppies and want to be on the frontline of saving puppies lives?
Foster volunteering will provide both of these experiences in abundance!

If you answered “yes” to all these questions, then fostering puppies might be a great volunteer opportunity for you.  Here’s how to get started:

How to Get Started

1. The first step in becoming puppy foster volunteer is to attend a Puppy Volunteer Foster Orientation.  Please choose a foster orientation from the dates listed below:


Sunday, May 7th                1:30-3:30 PM

2. Complete a Volunteer application and include your desired orientation date (download application here)
3. Email completed application to volunteers@sfspca.org
4. Wait for an email confirmation from SF SPCA Volunteer Services (within 7 days of your application submission) confirming that  your application is being processed and that you have been registered for your chosen orientation date
5. Read our Foster Puppy Manual (969 KB)
6. Attend the Puppy Foster Volunteer Orientation
7. The Foster team will work with you to schedule your first puppy pick-up!

Read more about Foster Parent roles and responsibilities