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Justice for Dogs makes extensive use of foster homes to help the animals we take in acclimate to family life. Our foster volunteers are the backbone of our organization and are what makes us special and unique. If you would like to consider taking in one of our dogs or cats, fill out an adoption application and contact Amy to see if there is an animal available that would be a good fit for you. 



  • Animals are more comfortable in a home than in kennels. At home you can build up their confidence and get them accustomed to a normal home life - and give them a history.

  • An animal's character can more easily be judged - its strengths and fears as well as its suitability for living with children, or other cats or dogs. An animal with a known background is more easily matched to a perfect home.

  • Fostering can be a great way to have the benefit of a pet for people whose circumstances do not allow permanent ownership. Plus, if you are thinking of having a pet it's a great way to find out if you want to take on a cat or dog permanently. You can check out the story about Izzy and her amazing foster mother by clicking on the photo below. 


Considering your taxes? Don’t forget your foster pets!

by manager, Petfinder Technology Operations


Tax deductions for foster pets might help you.

Do you need another excuse to foster a homeless pet?

Love the idea of fostering but fear the potential costs?

How about a tax deduction?

You read that correctly. Some of the expenses of fostering a pet for an adoption organization can be deducted as services rendered to a qualified 501(c)(3) organization. Things like pet food and supplies, veterinary bills, and even the paper towels you may need to clean up after your foster-furball can qualify as expenses for fostering a pet. If your foster operation is large enough you may be able to claim a portion of your home utilities as well. You can even deduct 14 cents per mile for trips made solely for the organization.

There is a little bit of work involved but it is not complicated. Just like any other deduction, you just need documents to support the expenses. So keep your receipts and canceled checks. Also, keep track of and notate any expense that is not obvious. For expenses over $250 the organization needs to provide you with a written acknowledgement that contains a description and good faith estimate of the value of the services you provided. Of course, it is probably best to talk to your accountant to see exactly which of your foster expenses are tax deductible.

Everyone I know that fosters says what you give out to a foster is returned to you two-fold. Now you can get some cash back, too. So if you are opening your heart, and wallet, as a volunteer foster with an qualified organization, remember that it could help you during tax-time. Ya know, just in case knowing you will be helping save cute furry lives wasn’t enough.


Fostering: Full of Rewards for Pets and People
By Brandon Castner

 My first foster dog struggled with separation anxiety, an issue that required patience and work on a day-to-day basis.  It wasn’t until she found her forever home that I realized that I truly felt an overwhelming sense of pride.  My attention to her special needs gave her a better chance to find her forever home.

Each foster pet brings its challenges, but the benefits to both the shelter animal and the foster family are worth the investment.  From personal experience, I know that the process can bring up a lot of concerns.  You may find yourself asking, “Is this behavior normal? Are they eating enough? What if I can’t give them the help they need?”


It’s good to be concerned about the quality of care you’re providing; this means you’re doing it right. The important thing to remember is you are not alone. The shelter representatives are available for help along the way if you decide that fostering a pet is an option for you.

Fosters are people in the community who volunteer their time and home to a shelter pet in need. The fostering process, while full of commitment, is one that is bursting full of benefits not only for the shelter pet, but also for you!  Fostering helps Heart of the Valley because of the consistency that a dedicated caregiver offers in a quiet, low-stress setting.  Fostering provides the animal more opportunities for socialization, exploration, and expressing a wide range of normal behaviors that are difficult to achieve when the animal remains in a shelter environment.

Which types of shelter pets can benefit from a foster home?

Feral or unsocialized kittens
Kittens or puppies under 8 weeks old, possibly with nursing mothers
Long stays, both cat and dog
Unsocialized dogs
Medical recovery

Feral kittens or feral young adults need regular one-on-one time with people to bring about more social behaviors.  In order to do this in a shelter would require hours dedicated to each specific animal, all the while trying to manage adoptions, medication and other various daily shelter tasks. Your home allows the kitten or young adult to have that time with people, otherwise that would be hard to accommodate.

When kittens and puppies are brought to the shelter at an early age their development is critical. It is important to the kittens and puppies to be socialized, and monitored properly over the course of the few weeks after birth. Because kittens and puppies have vulnerable immune systems, a foster home is a better environment for young animals to build active immunities against disease. Kittens often come into a shelter weighing about a pound and need to gain the appropriate weight for their spay or neuter surgeries. A foster home is a good place for these kittens to pack on the ounces.

Long stay animals (shelter stay that exceeds 3 months for dogs and 6 months for cats) benefit from fostering for a few reasons.  First, fostering increases exposure to the public (your friends, relatives and people you meet with your pet) and increases the chance the pet will be adopted.  Second, when pets leave the shelter environment, they have increased access to training.  This is especially critical for dogs that have not lived inside a home before, and for pets that struggle with inappropriate bathroom and/or greeting behaviors.  Cats, on the other hand, benefit from the increased stimuli and interaction of a home environment.   Although shelter staff do their best to enrich the lives of every animal, very active and outgoing cats can become lethargic or even ornery when left along for long periods of time in the shelter.   These cats, brought into foster homes, thrive on positive interaction and stimulation.

Unsocialized dogs also benefit from fostering.  Of course, each dog is unique.  Although some struggle with the move into a home, others have issues with the exposure to new people and pets.  Foster homes allow the individual dog time to adjust to new situations, unfamiliar people or simply becoming accustomed to being around one person for extended periods of time.  Fostering is especially helpful for dogs on the “thin line” of social or unsocial, or in what most shelters call the “gray area” of adoptability.

Fostering also comes with the benefits that we give ourselves.  By opening our hearts and home to a shelter pet, even for a very short time, we feel a sense of accomplishment.  When our duty has ended for each pet, we can be happy knowing how much difference we made.  The commitment to fostering is as important to you as it is to the animal.  You have shown compassion in ways most only wish they could.

Bringing pets and people together is simple when you give each animal — regardless of special need– a brighter future through fostering.

 Brandon Castner  is a  senior at Montana State University studying Fish and Wildlife management and ecology.  Brandon works at Heart of the Valley as a Feline adoption counselor, where he devotes his time caring for the animals and finding their forever homes.

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