Foster Program

Foster Facts

The goal of the Dubuque Regional Humane Society’s (DRHS) foster care program is to rehabilitate animals in order to make them available for adoption. Cats, kittens, dogs, puppies and various small mammals are able to find forever homes with the help of our dedicated foster families. Should you have any questions about the program, please contact the DRHS at 563-582-6766 or by emailing

What is a foster parent?
A volunteer foster parent assists in the rehabilitation of an animal by providing in-home care. An animal may need a foster home for a variety of reasons including: age, illness, injury, and socialization, or to help provide needed space at the shelter for incoming animals. Foster parents provide a clean, safe, loving environment for the animals in their homes.

What are the requirements for foster parents?
Must be 18 years or older to be a foster parent. Prospective adult foster parents complete one application for volunteering and one for fostering. Anyone interesting in becoming a foster parent must attend a volunteer orientation. Following approval of your application and completion of your orientation, you will receive a call from a foster coordinator inviting you to pick up your first foster animal.

How long is the foster care commitment?
The length of foster care for each animal varies depending on its needs. Fostering may last from two weeks to several months. We have a need for foster parents throughout the year. Our greatest need is from the spring through the fall.

What are the expenses for a foster parent?
The DRHS furnishes all of the supplies needed to care for foster animals. This includes food, litter, bedding, toys and enrichment items, and medical care. Foster parents incur their own expenses traveling to the shelter for medical care and foster care appointments as necessary. Appointments vary depending on the reason an animal is being fostered.

Things to consider
Are you able to separate the foster animals from your own animals? Because most foster animals have limited immunity, it is best to keep them in a spare bedroom or back room for the duration of their time in your home. When outside, puppies and dogs must be supervised in an enclosed yard or on a leash. Kittens and cats must be kept indoors at all times.
Fostering is one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have. With your help, we are able to save lives.

If you are interested in our foster program, please complete the DRHS Foster Application. Completed forms may be dropped off at Kinsey's Campus, 4242 Chavenelle Rd, or sent via email to:

FOSTERING KITTENS -- by Hannah Reinert

Step 1: Fill out the required volunteer paperwork for the Dubuque Regional Humane Society and attend a one hour orientation.

Step 2: Prepare a foster kitty room complete with food, litter, litter box, and blankets/bedding provided by the Humane Society. All supplies are at no expense to you. The Humane Society gives them to you to care for the foster kittens.

Step 3: Take home a litter of kittens. [litters may vary from 1-7+ kittens]. From my experience, start with a small litter before you tackle the bigger litters.

Step 4: Feed, socialize, and love kittens. Be sure to play with them! Kittens love toy mice, string, feathers, and bags. Having a scratching post is also a good idea because kittens are learning to use their claws!

Step 5: Love with kittens and treat them like family. Feel free to rename kittens as their personality develops. You may find that a kitten should be named Peanut or Itty-Bitty-Teeny-Tiny instead of Spot. I had a foster named Bitsy; yes, we called her Itty-Bitty-Teeny-Tiny because she was so small that we had to keep her for months.

Step 6: Continue steps 4 and 5 until the kittens reach two/three pounds.

Step 7: Once two/three pounds is met, return kittens back to the Humane Society. At this weight, kittens are spayed or neutered then placed for adoption.

Step 8: Miss the kittens.

Step 9: Repeat step 3 as often as needed.

Step 10: Feel great about your volunteer service. Like the saying goes, “saving one animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that one animal.” Fostering may seem like a small duty, but getting involved will not only help the Humane Society, but also the animals that so desperately need it.


Keep in mind there are some side effects that result from fostering:

1. It’s easy to love kittens; but if you find yourself in love with a particular one, adopt. We had adopted two of our fosters over the years [Leo and Gertrude].

2. You may find yourself talking about kittens to your family, friends and co-workers. Soon enough, they adopt one of your foster kittens. [Itty-Bitty-Teeny-Tiny was adopted by my mother’s co-worker.]

3. You may lose count of your fostering kittens; yet, you know you’re somewhere around 18 litters and 100 kittens [like myself].

4. You may become a crazy cat lady.

5. You have a special place in your heart for animals, especially kittens.