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How to say no to fostering a dog

It’s difficult to turn potential foster dogs away, especially when a dog rescue group contacts me about a certain dog that needs my help or a dog that “will be put down at 4 p.m. today.”

Fostering a dog means taking in a homeless dog while it waits for a permanent home. Although I encourage anyone to foster a dog, most of us can’t foster all the time. This is why I’ve learned to say no. When I know it’s not the right time for me to foster, my response is something like this:

I’m not ready to foster a dog right now, but thank you for thinking of me. I will let you know when I’m ready to foster again.

That pretty much sums it up without going into too much detail. As you can see, I don’t need an excuse and I don’t create one. I say I’m not ready, and the reason could be anything.

What it comes down to is I am either mentally ready to foster a dog or I am not. I admire the people who are able and willing to foster dogs almost all the time. But, I am not one of those people. I also live with someone who does not tolerate animals as well as I do.


Josh and I have a system worked out: We wait at least two months between the time the last foster dog leaves and the new foster dog arrives. Although I would like that time to be shorter and he would like that time to be longer, the break in between dogs is well needed.

Selecting a dog to adopt should never be rushed. The same is true with deciding on a foster dog. Big mistakes can be made when you bring a new animal into your home without much thought. You are lucky if stress is your only problem.

Our two-month waiting period helps me avoid making decisions based on emotions. No matter how many dogs are saved or killed, there will always be more dogs in need of my help.

Currently, our eight weeks is up. Our last foster dog, Sammi (above), was adopted in March. But we still have weekend graduation parties to attend, out of state relatives to visit and a trip planned to the west coast. Between various friends and family members bringing their dogs over and me being available as a pet sitter, we already have plenty of dogs coming and going. I love my “job,” but it also means we have to wait on fostering for now.

Fostering a dog is more than providing a home. It’s providing love, training, discipline, socialization, exercise and endless learning. I am not a successful foster owner unless I show that dog something about living in this confusing, restricting world. To me, that is the most rewarding experience of all. It’s why I love working with dogs.

Rescue dogs are the most challenging, because they are usually the most confused, the least understood and the most in need.

If you can’t give 100 percent to fostering a dog right now, simply say no. Instead, begin planning a time when you will be able to foster a dog. When you do, enjoy that time for what it’s worth.

If now is the right time for you to foster a dog, I’m sure there are several dogs waiting in your area for permanent or temporary homes.

Have any of you ever fostered a dog?


Sunday 31st of May 2015

Thank you for this article. I've just started fostering and the rescue took in about 20 dogs overnight and essentially pressured me into taking "just one more" for "just one night." It has been more stressful than I imagined. I'm so afraid they're going to try and pressure/guilt me into keeping the second dog as well. I feel terrible but I know I have to say no. I physically and mentally can't do it. It's very hard to say no to them especially with the sad stories they tell you that go along with the dogs. But you're right. There will always be another dog who needs a home. My husband isn't as fond of fostering as I am as well so I don't want to cause any strife in our relationship. It comes first before any animal. Thank you so much for this article. I hope it gives me the strength to say no!


Tuesday 12th of February 2013

Thanks for this. I foster for a rescue that had a constant stream of dogs that need a place. The last dog two dogs from them were not properly vetted and have come in with fleas and worms. It's been a a huge strain to deal with the aftermath, even though my personal anaimals get preventative. I also have a toddler and am pregnant. My current foster dog is about to leave and I immediately got a request to take anothe straight out of a shelter (without vetting again) and I finally had to say NO. I love helping these dogs but I found myself unable to say no for fear of somebody else being upset with me :(

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 12th of February 2013

Oh gosh. Maybe find a different rescue group! Thanks for all your hard work. I wouldn't put up with that either.

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 5th of January 2010

Great to hear you are fostering dogs! I know what you mean, though. It's easy for rescue workers or volunteers to become obsessive about saving the dogs.


Monday 4th of January 2010

Wow, I'm glad I found this blog. I've started fostering in 2008, except I don't have any dogs of my own just gerbils! But even if I'm in vet tech school I still realize that I cannot help every dog I want to, and I was amazed to see how crazy some people in rescue can be, and blame YOU for not being able to take in a dog, or hold it for longer! So, thank you so much for pointing out this situation that people should know before they get involved with a rescue! Luckilly the one I'm fostering for now is a small, very helpful rescue and I think I might just stick with them.

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 26th of May 2009

Thanks, Apryl!