Meet a Pet Foster Family

Meet a Pet Foster Family

Considering pet fostering? Here’s why you should give it a try.


Anytime you visit Helen Woodward Animal Center, there will be dozens of adoptable dogs and cats eagerly waiting to meet you. However, the pets you see aren’t the only ones in our care. Families around San Diego volunteer as fosters; fosters house and care for pets until those pets are ready to find forever homes. Last year, we had 3,390 adoptions, but that wouldn’t have been possible without our fosters. We simply don’t have enough space or staff on-site at the Center.

Our fosters come from all walks of life, from retirees to young families, like the Wileys. Teresa, her husband and two kids (ages 6 and 4.5) have been fostering puppy litters more than a year and love it.

teresa-bedtime-snuggles“It feeds my soul to snuggle with them after my kids go to bed,” Teresa said.

The Wileys usually foster between two and five puppies at a time, around 5 to 8-weeks-old. (Besides puppies, we also need fosters for kittens, adult pets and pregnant moms.) Foster assignments can range from one night to several months, depending on your availability. The Wileys typically spend 2 to 3 weeks with each litter.

Fosters house and care for pets until those pets are ready to find forever homes.


Foster FAQs

How to Get Started with Pet Fostering

The first step to becoming a pet foster is filling out a simple online application. Within a few days, we’ll contact you and schedule a home visit with one of our foster trainers. During the visit, the trainer will answer all your questions and help decide which foster assignments would work best for your family.

Did you know it costs practically nothing to be a foster? We provide you with everything you need! This includes food, medicine, crates, beds, blankets, toys, litter boxes and all other necessary supplies. You provide daily care, lots of love and transportation to and from check-ups here at the Center.


One hazard of fostering: your phone will fill up with adorable photos.

A Typical Day as a Pet Foster

pax-playtimeYour objective as a pet foster? As Teresa says, “keep them alive and happy!” This means feeding the puppies three times a day, performing basic health checks and writing notes for our medical staff. Teresa loves getting her kids involved in the process.

“They like to help scoop the food, set out the water and play with their toys,” she said. “They LOVE to help during our visits to the Center: wheel in the carrier, carry supplies, carry meds and the folder, and pick out new toys and blankets.”

“They learned right away how much work and discipline it takes to care for a puppy, and how careful we have to be about germs,” she added.


Spa Time! (Teresa bathes her fosters and trims their nails, but this isn’t a requirement.)

Why Pet Fostering Is Worth It

For many people, their first reaction to the idea of fostering is, I could never do that! I’d want to keep them all! I could never give them back. Fosters like Teresa see the bigger picture: getting more orphan pets out of shelters and into loving forever homes. 

puppy-ball“It’s our mission to put forth an ideal adoptee,” she said. “(We provide) lots of family conditioning that will make the dog an ideal addition to whoever falls in love with it.”

So will you become attached to your foster furkids? Yes, you probably will. The Wileys have fostered 12 litters so far and have fallen in love with every set. But Teresa says caring for puppies for such a short amount of time makes the experience more special. (Plus, by the time they approach 8-weeks-old and become more rambunctious, she’s sometimes ready to say goodbye. Caring for a few busy pups in addition to her very busy little humans is a lot!)

“We feel so lucky to experience the animal bonding with so many angels and give them our best for the short stay they have here,” she said.

Besides saving lives, Teresa is also teaching her kids lifelong lessons about responsibility and the human-animal bond.


We feel so lucky to experience the animal bonding with so many angels and give them our best for the short stay they have here.

Teresa Wiley


“I so encourage families to do this,” she said.

Ready to help us save more lives and give fostering a try? Get complete information and sign up at


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