Foster Care

Volunteer foster carers take on the responsibility for general care and socialisation of dogs and cats in their own homes until they are ready to be adopted. We provide food, bedding, litter trays, bowls and toys for all cats and dogs, plus unlimited advice, support and veterinary care.

Our foster care program is based out of the Adoption Centre in Campbellfield, as the majority of animals needing a foster home are receiving care at the Centre.

Apply now

Fill in an application form now to become a foster carer

There are four types of foster care categories: juvenile, rehabilitation, behavioural and respite.

Most of the animals requiring foster care are kittens. They often arrive in our Adoption Centre very young and need to attain a weight of 900g before they can be desexed and made available for adoption.

Sometimes we have a mum and kittens that need fostering; less often we will have injured animals that need a temporary home. Very rarely we may have some underage puppies needing care. Dogs quite often need fostering to recover from an operation, have some respite from the Adoption Centre or form part of our Emergency Welfare Assistance program (EWA).

Animals going out to foster care need a safe, secure, loving, temporary home.

Kittens and puppies need to be regularly fed according to the feeding guidelines provided by the Adoption Centre staff and kept in a clean environment. The socialisation of the kittens and puppies is equally as important as their physical environment. This means the kittens and puppies require lots of handling and exposure to different noises, people, surfaces, etc. Kittens and puppies learn the most during the first nine weeks of life and proper socialisation will ensure the kittens and puppies grow up without behavioural problems.

It is not necessary that foster carers are home all day – kittens and puppies only need a minimum of two hours’ quality interaction per day.

Children must be supervised with the animals at all times – very young children need special supervision as they may inadvertently injure the animal by dropping or stepping on them.

Many foster carers have their own pets. Common sense will be needed to ensure kittens and puppies are kept separate from dogs and even some adult cats and dogs that perhaps will not be so pleased about the new arrivals. It is also very important that all your own animals are up to date with their vaccinations.

Good places to keep kittens and puppies are in spare bedrooms, ensuites or laundries. However, it is preferable that the kittens and puppies do get a good run around the home daily to assist with their socialisation.

Young kittens and puppies do have difficulty in regulating their temperature, hence it is difficult to house them outside. However, a well set up garage may be suitable.

Foster dogs will need to be walked with a lead attached and only by the foster carer. Some dogs can be unpredictable, so to avoid them running away it is required that they have a lead on at all times when being exercised.

As most of the fostered animals will not be fully vaccinated it is vital that they are not taken outside the home, especially to public places. Young animals are extremely susceptible to contracting illnesses, many of which are life threatening.

We require foster carers to record the weight of the animals while they are in their care and to bring the records when coming in for check-ups.

These requirements will vary depending on the injury the animal has sustained. For example, a dog recovering from a fractured leg will have different needs than a cat recovering from a tail amputation. If you are interested in fostering injured animals, we will discuss each animal and their needs with you individually.

Lort Smith will provide all food, bedding, litter trays, bowls and toys for your fostered animal. We will also provide unlimited advice and support and all veterinary care.

The foster carer will be responsible for collecting the animal, returning the animal to the hospital for weekly check-ups, feeding, cleaning, socialising and caring for the animal and contacting the Adoption Centre if the animal is unwell.

Foster carers looking after injured animals will be provided with all medication, care information and confinement cages if required.

Foster carers need to be aware that if animals are not supervised or safely contained they can damage property by scratching, chewing or soiling. It is the responsibility of the foster carer to ensure fostered animals are kept in a safe and secure environment and are supervised to ensure their property is not damaged. Lort Smith will not be responsible for damage to a foster carer’s property.

Young kittens do get sick. A very common illness is cat flu, which is extremely contagious to cats. If any fostered animals develop any unusual symptoms they must be returned to Lort Smith immediately. Foster carers will be able to phone and get advice from the Adoption Centre or from any of our nursing staff.

Unfortunately, some animals get very ill, or injured animals will not heal properly and a veterinarian may decide that euthanasia is the best option. In order for Lort Smith to operate as an Adoption Centre, we must abide by the Victorian Code of Practice for Pounds and Shelters. Animals that have chronic health or behavioural problems are not allowed to be rehomed. Understanding and agreeing to this aspect of foster care and shelter operation is often the most challenging for foster carers.

Foster Carers are responsible for providing safe transportation for the collection, regular checking and return of animals.

All fostered animals must be returned to Lort Smith weekly for health checks and to ensure they are developing normally. Animals being fostered whilst they are recovering from injuries may need more frequent vet visits.

Should the animal show any health or behaviour changes please contact:

  • Adoption Centre Duty Supervisor – 03 9287 6433 (within Adoption Centre hours)
  • Animal Hospital – 03 9328 3021 (outside Adoption Centre hours).

Please do not take animals to your own veterinarian. The animals you are fostering are the financial responsibility of Lort Smith. If the animal requires any veterinary care for any reason please bring it back to us for treatment by one of our vets. In the case of emergency, bring the animal straight to the Lort Smith Animal Hospital in North Melbourne.

The Adoption Centre is located at Campbellfield. This is the main site for collecting and dropping off animals in foster care, though from time to time newly surrendered animals will need to be collected from North Melbourne.

The Adoption Centre is located at Campbellfield. The vet clinic also located at this site will be offering timely access to appointments for animals in foster care. We recommend fostered animals receive care at this site. In some cases, an animal may need to receive care at North Melbourne. If this is the case, instructions will be given when you collect your foster animal.

It is the responsibility of the Adoption Centre to rehome the animals. If someone you know is interested in adopting one of your foster pets, please ask them to contact the Adoption Centre directly and meet with an animal welfare officer.

Lort Smith