Fostering Frequently Asked Questions

“I hope to make people realize how totally helpless animals are, how dependent on us, trusting as a child must that we will be kind and take care of their needs… [They] are an obligation put on us, a responsibility we have no right to neglect, nor to violate by cruelty.”
James Herriot (Scottish veterinarian and writer (1916-1995)

It is important to Brookline that our foster families succeed.  A successful fostering experience leads to repeat fosters, which leads to even more Labs we can save!  Being a volunteer foster home can be as rewarding as it is challenging!  To deal with any questions a foster family may have, Brookline provides a strong support system.  The volunteer who conducts the foster family’s home visit remains available to answer any questions a foster family may have along the way and to act as a liaison to other more well-seasoned volunteers.   Our rescue volunteers have a wealth of knowledge available and are able to share tips not only for transitioning a foster dog into your home but also for addressing any specific issues that may arise regarding obedience, behavior, allergies, medical conditions and many other topics. This page addresses some of the questions we most often receive from new foster families.

How Do I Become a Volunteer Foster Home?
Brookline volunteer foster homes go through a similar initial application process and home visit as our adoption applicants. We want to be as sure as we can be that you and your future foster dogs will be compatible for as long (or as short) as it takes to find their new forever home. If you are interested in fostering for Brookline, please first confirm that you are in our coverage area by emailing us at to let us know of your interest in fostering and to provide us with your full address, including zip code. Once we confirm coverage, you can then fill out our Online Application or print and mail our application form.

What Is Required of a Foster Home?
You don’t need any special talents to be a volunteer foster home, although a good understanding of and experience with dogs is helpful. Knowledge of basic obedience techniques using positive reinforcement methods is helpful but not required. Most importantly, you will need to provide an abundance of love, attention and patience and be willing to make the commitment to accept a rescued Lab into your family and work through any initial obedience or behavior issues that may surface. While you are fostering a Lab for Brookline, you will be asked to do the following:
•   Provide your foster dog with daily wholesome dog food and fresh water, a clean area for elimination, outdoor exercise on a leash or in a fenced yard,  and a  warm, safe place inside your home
•   Treat your foster dog as a pet, companion and family member•   Socialize and play with your foster dog
•   Administer medications, if any
•   Transport your foster dog to the veterinarian, if necessary
•   Provide regular updates via email on your foster dog’s progress
•   Be willing to receive support and encouragement from other volunteers about how to deal with any behavior or obedience issues that may surface
•   Give input to other volunteers working with potential adopters about the dog’s personality and temperament in order to find the best forever home match
•   Whenever possible, bring your foster dog to the fundraising events in which Brookline participates throughout our coverage area to give your foster dog exposure to potential adopters.

Where Do Brookline Foster Dogs Come From?
For every foster dog, there is a different story — some would make you laugh, some would make you cry, and some would make you do both at the same time! Many of our Labs are rescued from shelters. These are dogs for whom time has run out and they are at risk of being euthanized due to overcrowding. We also occasionally have a need for foster homes to care for puppies born to dogs we’ve rescued, dogs that are no longer useful to puppy mill owners, and dogs that have been given up by their family due to an unforeseen change of circumstance that could not be avoided.

Will I Be Assigned a Foster Dog?Brookline does not assign foster dogs. Prior to accepting a dog into our rescue, a Brookline volunteer evaluates the dog to make a determination as to whether to the dog has a desirable temperament – one that is suitable for adoption by an individual or family. While we try to match a Lab with a foster home that is most compatible (just as we do with our adoption applicants), we provide you with the dog’s full evaluation to allow you to choose a foster dog that you think will be the best fit with your home, family and lifestyle. For example, a volunteer foster home may decide to foster only females or only males to make sure they are more compatible with the resident dog(s) or may wish to foster only dogs within a certain age range. The volunteer foster home has the last word on whether a potential foster dog would be a good fit.

When Can I Choose to Foster?
Once you have been approved as a Brookline foster home, you may foster as your time permits. When your foster dog is introduced to his or her new forever family, Brookline requires a two week pre-adoptive period prior to allowing the family to finalize the adoption. You must remain available during the first week of that two week period in the event the placement does not work out and your foster dog is returned to you. If all repports on your foster dog’s placement are positive, after the first week you may take in another foster dog if you wish to. If your schedule will not permit you to foster, we always have other volunteer opportunities available if you are interested.

What Equipment or Supplies will I Need to Provide?You will need to supply food and water bowls just for your foster dog, food (whatever you feed your dog is fine unless the foster dog requires a special diet), and an identification tag for your foster dog’s collar that includes your name and contact information. Upon submission of a receipt, Brookline will reimburse foster homes for up to $40 worth of food for their foster dog every 6 weeks. Brookline encourages crating to keep the dog and your home safe and has several crates available for use by volunteer foster homes. A pet room divider or baby gate might be helpful, particularly for dogs who do not like to be crated. Brookline mails a foster dog welcome package to each volunteer foster home after the dog’s arrival which includes a new collar and leash. However, that package may not arrive until your foster dog has been with you for several days. Please note that Brookline does not reimburse foster families for any damage that may be caused by the foster dog.

How Long Will I Have my Foster Dog?
When you agree to foster for Brookline, we ask that you make the commitment to keep your foster dog until the dog is placed with his or her forever family. Foster dogs that are pulled from shelters or puppy mills must be fostered for a minimum of two weeks to allow you sufficient time to assess the dog and his or her personality. There are many factors that can contribute to the length of time a foster dog may be in your care, which can range from several weeks to several months. Younger dogs tend to get adopted quickly while senior dogs or dogs with special needs may be in foster care for a longer period of time.

What Happens if my Foster Dog Needs Veterinary Care?Brookline will cover the cost of any vet care that may be required for your foster dog. However, unless it is an emergency (that is, a life or death situation or one that may develop into a life or death situation if not immediately treated), you will need to obtain an estimate of the proposed cost and obtain pre-approval from Brookline prior to having your foster dog seen by a vet.

What if I am Fostering and Have an Emergency or Will be Away from Home for a While?
The more notice you can provide to us, the easier it will be for us to make alternative arrangements. We will try to arrange for another volunteer foster home to care for your foster dog or may move the dog to a kennel for a short period of time, if necessary.

May I Adopt My Foster Dog?
Brookline recognizes the realities of fostering, including the fact that foster homes sometimes fall in love with their foster dog. If you think your family is the best match for the dog and you can’t bear to give him or her up, you may adopt your foster dog and join the “foster flunkie” club.