Foster care considerations

It is becoming increasingly common for community members (as well as Centre staff) to provide temporary care for animals in their own homes. Often very young or sick animals are most in need of this special care. These animals can greatly benefit from care outside of the shelter, but these are also the animals most at risk for contracting and spreading infectious disease, including zoonoses. Foster home environments are often more difficult to effectively disinfect than animal centres, and can become chronically contaminated by durable agents such as ringworm (dermatophytes) or roundworm (Toxocara spp.). Contaminated foster homes can then serve as a focus for infection of the many vulnerable animals passing through that home, and these animals may return to the Centre to spread their new infection to other animals, staff and adopters. Therefore, for the protection of foster care providers as well as Centre animals, special precautions should be taken when placing animals in foster care.

Foster care providers should receive training as described for staff members regarding zoonotic disease, including written information in foster care training material.


Before being placed for foster care

  1. 1All animals must receive fecal exams.
  2. 2All cats and dogs with skin lesions must be examined with a Woods lamp as well as visually for signs of ringworm. Cultures should be taken for any strong suspects.
  3. 3All animals (including puppies, kittens and nursing mothers) must be dewormed, and a schedule arranged for re-treatment and vaccination.
  4. 4Animals should be treated for fleas as needed before leaving the Centre to avoid contaminating a private home.
  5. 5Ill animals and animals suspected or known to have a zoonotic condition must have veterinary oversight and approval for being fostered before placement. Protective clothing should be worn when handling these animals, just as in an animal centre. During times when animal centres are having frequent problems with infectious disease, these precautions should be extended to all animals in foster care.
  6. 6Liability and ethical issues associated with placing animals with a known zoonotic condition in foster care should be discussed and a written policy established.