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Critical need for foster volunteers at San Diego Humane Society

The San Diego Humane Society (SDHS) said it has a critical space shortage in its shelters. It's asking the community to open up their homes and become foster volunteers.

“We have so many animals across our campuses. We have more than 1,500 animals in our care. We have more than 600 available for adoption and we are just out of space,” said Nina Thompson, SDHS' director of public relations.

SDHS is seeking at least 50 foster volunteers to make space for incoming animals.


The foster program provides support for animals waiting to be adopted, but also for pets with owners facing temporary hardships, such as eviction, domestic violence and other difficult situations.

It is abnormal to have so many stray animals filtering into the shelter at this time of year.

“Some of the reasons have to do with the economy. People moving, possibly not being able to afford taking care of their pets,” Thompson said.

Thompson said there are not a lot of requirements to foster with SDHS. The organization provides food, medical care and guidance to care for a foster animal.

Foster volunteers can provide vital information to help a pet get adopted.


“They get to know the pet on a whole different level. A pet in a shelter is not the same as a pet in the home. They act completely differently and we learn so much about the pet in a home,” Thompson said. “We learn if they bark at the mailman, or if they’re very active, or if they’re mellow. There’s just no way to find out about their personality in the shelter.”

Chris Queen has been a foster volunteer for almost five years. She specializes in fostering mother cats and their kittens.

“You are making a difference. You’re helping the animals. You’re helping the shelter and you’re actually helping yourself too because it fills your heart with so much joy and love when you foster,” Queen said. “It’s a win-win for everyone really.”

Fostering is also for people who cannot have a long-term pet, but still want to help an animal.

“Fostering is the best possible option because it’s temporary, but you’re making such a huge difference,” Queen said.

No specific time frame is required to be a foster volunteer. It can be a month, a few weeks or on the weekends.

There is a wide variety of pets who need foster homes, including animals that get along with other resident pets.

“We have a lot of pets who are good matches with other pets. We have cats who are good with dogs, dogs who are good with cats, maybe bunnies,” Thompson said. “So you don’t have to be a no-pet family in order to help us out right now.”

Thompson said it's also a great option for people who are thinking about getting a pet.

“You learn a lot about what it’s like to have a pet in your home and then you can make that more forever decision if you want to adopt,” she said.

Applications and pictures of the pets available for fostering are online.