Why Foster?

When a foster home opens its doors, a life is instantly saved.

Why is fostering so important? There are many reasons fostering is so important but mainly the shelters in cities across America are filling up with lives that deserve a second chance. There are facilities overwhelmed with numbers of highly adoptable, loveable, amazing animals whose time is up strictly because there is not enough room to house them. Temporary homes are needed to allow for additional exposure beyond the dark, highly-stressful environments we often find these terrified lives in. Time combined with a home filled with care and attention are all that is needed to provide a lost or abandoned animal with brand new leash on life. The complete change an animal embarks on is akin to shedding their emotional baggage. Once they understand that life has changed…a brand new animal appears. Curious, playful, grateful and loving. A foster embarks on a journey with their rescue that not only emotionally and physically alters the animals but also the families to witness such unbelievable transformations. Dedicated, forever love is the final phase of fostering and the journey to arrive at that point is beautiful and truly a gift.

Wagging Hearts is 100% volunteer-based. The foundation to our success can be seen and felt in our foster community and within our volunteers who vary from children through Seniors.

What does fostering provide to the animal? Fostering provides an animal that has been through a stressful and often traumatizing series of events, time to decompress and unwind from all that has transpired. Many people do not understand the real trauma an animal experiences when they are abandoned by their families. Dogs and cats alike remain our dedicated companions even when they are abandoned to the high-kill shelters across America. They sit with pain, fear and loss. We see their soulful eyes, we read their bowed and broken body language, we hear the terror in their cries. This is why fostering is so important because it provides a lost and abandoned animal with a chance to right their world. To find the glow of their real personalities and shine once more but this time with forever love in tow. Foster homes provide shelter for sick or injured animals to heal or special needs lives to acclimate and begin preparing for their new forever homes.

Please email contactus@wagginghearts.org to schedule a visit to a high-kill shelter in Chicago where close to 600 animals sit and wait for their time to come up. A real experience in the emotional depth of the dogs and cats sitting alone in shelters and in dire need of rescue.

What can Foster Homes expect? Foster homes can anticipate all of our rescues are fully-vetted before being placed in a home. They receive vaccinations (first round in some cases due to ages) and Frontline, as well as Heartworm Preventative treatments. We may sometimes place a pup or adult in a home unaltered due to age, illness, pregnancies, etc.

What can a Foster expect to be responsible for? A foster (and family) is responsible for the love and care of the animal as if it was already a permanent family member. This means we ask that fosters communicate when an animal is in need, requires medical assistance, training advice or just for updates/communication. Email fostering@wagginghearts.org for more information or details. A Foster will provide:

  • Love combined with Food/Water with occasional bathtime.
  • Clean, safe, caring environment.
  • Toys, socialization, exercise combined with basic training as appropriate for age, breed, condition of animal.
  • Foster photo and description updates.
  • Transport to/from any necessary vet appointments or offsite adoption events

What is Wagging Hearts responsible for? Wagging Hearts will provide all medical and basic care and prevention for your foster animal. Medications, vaccinations, spay/neutering, microchipping, adoptable exposure in terms of events, website postings via Wagging Hearts site, PetFinder, Adopt-A-Pet and Facebook social media sites. We will take care of basic necessities and behavioral/physical training guidance. Grooming and extra care given for specific breeds whose health can be compromised by an unattended coat. Our fosters receive guidance from rescue intake through permanent placement.

Why not give it a try? Need a reason why …

  • Increase the chances of our rescues finding forever love by providing a home environment, interacting with multiple age ranges, sometimes with a variety of other animals which helps boost our rescues confidence and trust so they are less stressful at meet and greets.
  • Try new companions for an existing pet or help socialize a rescue animal who needs help breaking out of their shell.
  • Provide better and more accurate information on each unique life that is available for adoption. Helping us to better align a rescue with their forever match with greater success. We understand that animals are like people in that not everyone will get along. And not all interactions will be positive. This is why having the details upfront can insure that everyone’s expectations are met with few surprises.
  • Have the patience to provide the extra love and care needed for a Special Needs situation? Nothing is more rewarding than helping a previously discarded life find their way while having to navigate waters such as when: deaf, blind, deformed, ill, etc.
  • Shelters and boarding facilities are especially hard on Seniors. Fosters provide a quiet, soft, comfortable environment for an animal that really is looking for quality time. Sunbeams on a soft bed and firefly watching in the soft, fresh grass.


  • No off-leash park visits or walks. Foster animals must be leashed at all times while outdoors unless in foster’s own secured, fenced yard. Foster animals cannot be left unattended at any time while outdoors, even in a secured yard. Doggie door accessibility not acceptable while not present in home.
  • No harsh or negative training techniques or equipment may be used. Such as; prong collars, spray bottles, shock collars, etc. Please inquire with Wagging Hearts should clarification or guidance be needed.
  • All vet visits must be approved by Wagging Hearts representative and appointment must be with approved vet office provided in Wagging Hearts Vet List. Please email fostering@wagginghearts.org if vet list is needed.


  • Any and ALL aggressive behavior must be immediately communicated as soon as it is noticed. Wagging Hearts wants to insure all fosters receive the proper guidance and training for each and every life that comes into our fosters homes so open communication is extremely important.
  • A rescue dog is lost, stolen or otherwise missing. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO HANDLE ON YOUR OWN. Time is crucial and every minute counts. Please contact us immediately so we can get the proper resources and materials in place.
  • A dog attack/injury on your foster. Should the situation be life-threatening take animal to immediate and closet location for veterinarian assistance. If time permits, contact Wagging Hearts representative so we can prep our vet partners for assistance and route you to them quickly.

PLEASE CONTACT fostering@wagginghearts.org for any additional questions, concerns or interest. Otherwise, we look forward to seeing your foster application come through soon!