The Importance of Fostering

Stephanie Wan Editorial Date:

With many people being able to work from home in the past year, more families are considering adopting a dog. However it is important to remember that a dog is a lifetime commitment, and they will still need to be cared for even after work from home arrangements end. If you are unable to commit to taking care of a dog long term, fostering is a great option! 

Fostering is a volunteer position where you bring home a dog for a temporary time period. This time period can be predetermined with the rescue organization, and can range from just a few days for emergency fosters, to fostering until the dog gets adopted. The rescue organizations usually provide all the food and other required items, so fosters only need to provide their home, and their time to care for the dog.

Shelter dogs may need a short term home for a variety of reasons, such as the ones listed below.



Very young puppies who are not ready to be adopted yet will need a foster home to help take care of them. If they are not with their mother, they may need round-the-clock care and possibly bottle feeding. These puppies usually need to be fostered in pairs, and may also benefit from being fostered in a multiple dog household in order to help them develop socially and learn how to interact with other dogs. Fostering a puppy also helps them learn how to live and behave in a home environment, which will make it easier for them to find a forever home.

Puppies in foster
Puppies Dido and Delta from Hong Kong Dog Rescue were fostered until they were old enough to be adopted. 
Photo by:

Injured or Sick Dogs

Dogs who are not feeling well or are recovering from surgery will benefit from a foster home where they can get more one on one care and attention. These dogs may benefit most from being the only dog in the household, as they are not at their physical best and will appreciate a quieter and safer place to recuperate. These dogs may need occasional visits to the vet, but all vet bills are usually taken care of by the organization, and having a foster family to bring them to appointments will take the workload off from the rescue organization. 

In rare instances, if there are contagious diseases spreading in the shelters, fostering can help control the situation by separating the new animals from the ones in the shelter and preventing further cross-infections.

Kanga needs medication but is stable in health
Kanga requires daily medication but her health is stable. She is available for long term foster or adoption from Hong Kong Dog Rescue.
Photo by: @def.daffy


For senior dogs, having a foster home means they can spend the rest of their days in a loving home instead of at the shelter. They can have a soft bed to sleep on, quiet rest, and their own special family to love them. Senior dogs are great for first-time owners/fosters as their personality has already been developed, and most of them are toilet-trained as well. They are also more mellow and have lower energy levels, and won’t chew things up like a teething puppy. Find out more on why senior dogs may be ideal for you here. 

Jiffy the senior dog
Jiffy is a senior dog at Hong Kong Dog Rescue who is looking for a long term foster or adopter. 
Photo by: Shirley Tin

Weather Fosters

Sometimes fosters will be needed for extreme weather conditions such as a typhoon or cold temperatures. By bringing a dog home, you not only keep that dog safe, but you also help the shelter be better able to take care of any remaining dogs that are not able to go to a foster home. 

O'Brian was a weather foster
O’Brian was taken home for fostering during the cold weather spell last month. He is available from Hong Kong Dog Rescue.
Photo by: @sarahtheloos

Fostering can be a great opportunity for first time dog owners to experience what it is like to take care of a dog, before committing to adoption. Rescues will provide guidance and advice, and will follow up with each dog to make sure things are going smoothly. Fostering also gives the rescue organization a chance to see how the dog behaves in a home environment, and help them give detailed information about the dog’s personality, temperament, habits, and health condition to potential adopters. This can greatly increase the dog’s chances of finding their perfect match in a forever family.

The extra TLC and attention for foster dogs is also hugely beneficial as not every dog at the shelter gets the attention or walks they need due to a limited number of volunteers (especially during the weekdays). Additionally, long term fostering can help save more animals’ lives by freeing up much-needed space for accommodation at the shelter. For every dog in a long term foster home, another can be rescued and brought in. 

Foster families are a very important part of the rescue community. If you’re able to take in a temporary house guest, please contact a local rescue and see if you can help!