Foster a Pet

Thinking about Becoming a Surfers for Strays Foster Parent?

Fostering saves lives! Fostering makes more space available at our rescue centers for the most at-risk and vulnerable abandoned dogs and cats. When you foster a dog in need you will experience so many wonderful rewards while you care for and prepare them to find a family that will provide a safe and loving home for the rest of their life.

Our two rescue centers (located in Troncones and Zihuatanejo, Mexico) take in stray puppies and dogs, cats and kittens and provide food, shelter, veterinary care, vaccinations, behavior evaluation and spay and neutering. When animals are ready for adoption they are transported by volunteers called Pet Flight Escorts. When they arrive in the U.S. or Canada, they are met by a local Surfers for Strays coordinator who will transport them to their pre-approved foster family (this could be you!) or pre-approved forever family.

What Makes a Good Foster Family?

Patience, love, care, compassion, attention and responsibility are key attributes of a good foster family. It is important to remember that your foster dog probably lived in a challenging environment and went through sudden unfamiliar changes before they came into your care. The ease of their transition will vary depending on their history, age, and personality. Certain noises, objects or environments can cause surprise, fear, stress or anxiety in your foster dog. A good foster family uses positive reinforcement and training strategies to help overcome these challenges and encourage good behavior. Your foster dog will blossom with your guidance. The most rewarding part of fostering is when you see your foster dog become a part of their new, loving forever family.

Foster Volunteer Eligibility

You must be over the age of 21 and have previous dog handling experience. Households with children under the age of 18 are welcome, but the primary caregiver for the dog must be over 21. In addition, you must be available to take your foster dog to a veterinarian for any necessary care. You must be willing and able to administer oral or topical medications as needed and bathe and groom as necessary. Additional program requirements and guidelines are provided in the SFS Foster Agreement.

Foster Application Process

  1. LONG-TERM FOSTER FAMILY OR FOSTER TO ADOPT (FTA): Surfers for Strays relies on our volunteers to foster dogs until they are adopted. If you are interested in fostering please go to the Available Dogs page and fill out an application for the dog you are interested in using the 'Foster' button on a dog's biography. If you don't a have a preference, you can fill out a foster application for an "Unknown or Unlisted Dog".

We also have a foster to adopt (FTA) program where adopters can foster for a 1-week trial period to get to know the dog. This helps adopters to determine if it is a good match for their family and if their family is a good match for the dog. If you are interested in fostering to adopt please fill out an application for the dog you are interested in using the 'Adopt' button on a dog's bio. See our Adoption Process page for more information.

  1. FILL OUT AN APPLICATION: On the dog's profile, click the 'Foster' button and fill out the Foster Application. Our Foster Application has 3 parts:

  • Personal Information

  • Questionnaire

  • Confirmation

After you submit your completed application, you will receive a confirmation email from (Petstablished is the rescue management program we use).

  1. PRELIMINARY APPLICATION REVIEW: Once we receive your application, we will review it as quickly as possible. Please remember that we are an all-volunteer organization and doing our best to get back to you as soon as we can!

  2. FINAL APPLICATION REVIEW: The Final Application Review includes:

  • Phone Interview

  • Virtual Home Check

  1. FOSTER AGREEMENT: Once your application has been approved you will be emailed a Foster Agreement that needs to be completed and returned.

Foster Care Program FAQ

What information will I have about the dog before I foster?

The Foster Coordinator will share information from the Rescue Center about specific needs and behaviors. Each dog will have a completed Medical history form with all known information about the dog and records of completed and future veterinary care and vaccinations.

What do I have to provide for the dog as a foster?

The foster dog will arrive with a travel crate, collar or harness, SFS ID tag, and leash. The foster family is expected to provide a safe and secure indoor-outdoor living space, bed, bowls, food, water, exercise, bathing, socialization, basic training, toys and LOVE. Since Surfers for Strays is a volunteer and donor-supported organization, we welcome foster families that are willing to cover or contribute to any pre-authorized veterinary care during the foster period. However, SFS will pay for approved vet visits and medication for your foster pup.

How long is the Foster Period?

The time commitment for foster care can range from a few days to several months. Your foster coordinator can, in some cases, provide an estimation of the foster period. We ask that foster parents commit to fostering a dog until a forever home is found or another suitable foster home is found. Our foster coordinator will do their best to work with you and your schedule, however we request that you carefully consider your commitment and are honest about your availability. Last minute transfers are difficult and stressful for both the foster dog and our volunteers.

What can I do to help my foster dog find their fur-ever home?

One of the most important parts of fostering is communication. We count on our foster parents to provide us with crucial information about their foster dog to help place them in a well-suited forever home. This involves sending us updates about your foster pup’s personality and what your foster is learning, such as potty training, walking on a leash, commands mastered and tricks learned. Additionally, taking quality photos and videos help us to build the dog’s profile and create good social media posts, where their potential new fur-ever family might see them.

Do I have to live in a particular city to foster?

We can only support foster volunteers in cities where we have a dedicated foster network and a Foster Coordinator. These areas include San Diego, Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle in the United States and Vancouver and Toronto in Canada.