Foster home

Fostering a shelter animal is a charitable act that is closely connected with volunteering at the Tartu Animal Shelter.

Which animals are given to foster homes?

We only give special needs animals to foster homes (i.e. animals who need special treatment, therapy or socialization).

This list includes:

  • Puppies and kittens that are too weak to survive under shelter conditions.
  • Animals who need special treatment (post-operative, with infections, etc.). The shelter’s veterinarian will recommend which animals should be placed in foster homes.
  • Animals who need socialization (i.e. kittens up to three months of age – for a maximum of two weeks in a foster home).
  • Animals with problematic, stress-induced behavior while under shelter conditions (i.e. being apathetic or having accidents indoors). This is to determine if the behavior changes if the animal is housed in a different environment.

Animals who are approved for foster home placement must have an identification chip implanted under the skin. Please note that an animal being offered for fostering may not yet have all the necessary vaccinations or parasite protection. This puts a huge responsibility on the fostering individual to protect the foster animal and other animals at home.


  1. A fostering individual should be at least 18 years old and own a residence to house a shelter animal or present written permission from the residence owner.
  2. Since cooperation between the shelter and the fostering individual is key to helping the animal in need, and this cooperation has to be founded on mutual respect and trust, then we assume that the fostering individual has been previously acquainted with the shelter. This would include people who have volunteered at the shelter before, have been recommended by previous volunteers, or those who agree to have longer conversations with shelter workers, and agree to show us the living space in which the fostered animal will be housed.
  3. Fostering individuals should have enough resources to foster an animal. These resources include:
  • Time: Enough spare time in a 24-hour period to engage the foster animal (preferably someone in a domestic capacity or with a suitable work schedule).
  • Space:  Foster homes must have enough space and the appropriate conditions to house a foster animal.
  • Material resources: Fostering individuals should be able to provide the all the basic necessities of life (i.e. food and litter for cats)
  1. Preferably, a foster home would not contain the same species of animal as the foster animal (this clause is in the interest of animal safety). If a foster home has the same species of animal, then the fostering individual must guarantee that he/she is able to keep the animals apart or find other ways to keep them safe.

fostering time limits

The length of time an animal will stay in a foster home is a set and fixed term. This is primarily in the interest of the fostering individual so as the animal is not “forgotten” in the foster home. Our shelter is devoted to cooperating in every way with foster homes.

The initial fostering term is a maximum of two weeks. If a reason arises for a longer fostering term, then it can be arranged after the initial term and after discussing an overview of the foster animal’s progress (healing and/or social improvements) in the foster home.

While an animal is in a foster home it will be arranged if the shelter is to call after the initial term or if the fostering individual should send progress emails regarding the animal to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

the process of Turning over an animal

Animals go to foster homes only with the proper paperwork. This fostering paperwork is called the Fostering Agreement (hereafter “the Agreement”). The Agreement is signed by a shelter worker and by the fostering individual. A copy is made of the Agreement, which is given to the fostering individual, and the original Agreement is maintained at the shelter’s office.

A shelter worker will explain to the potential fostering individual the conditions surrounding the fostering of an animal, which include the following:

  • The fostering individual will take care of the foster animal to the best of their ability.
  • The fostering individual will follow the guidelines described in the Fostering Agreement.
  • In case of a health problem, the fostering individual will notify the shelter immediately, and will utilize only the veterinary clinic selected by the shelter.
  • The fostering individual should be aware that only the shelter has the right to place an animal in a new home.

Fostering individuals are notified of the possible dangers that could occur while fostering a new animal, such as infectious diseases with longer incubation periods (for instance, ringworm).

The shelter may give some familiar items to departing animals (such as, a food bowl, litter box, bed or toy). This will be documented in the Fostering Agreement.

If the foster animal needs special food or treatment, then food and medication will be given by the shelter, along with detailed instructions as to its use. As a general rule, any special care for an animal must be carried out following shelter instructions. Nevertheless, the fostering individual may propose treatment and possibly offer monetary support.  Additional charitable contributions are necessary to pay for all animals’ special care, as this is not covered by the City of Tartu’s support.

The fostering individual should understand that the foster animal is the shelter’s property, and it must be returned to the shelter after the fostering term. While fostering individuals have priority when it comes time to adopt the animal, they must understand that adopting an animal may rule out the possibility to foster another animal in the future (due to the rule regarding housing two animals of the same species), and the shelter could lose a much needed foster care provider as a result.

The shelter’s administrator and project coordinator are in charge of contacting foster homes, maintaining records and upholding the conditions of the Fostering Agreement.


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