September 30, 2016

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

Organization: University of North Carolina
Investigator(s): Steven Rogelberg
Grant Amount: $22,000
Project Type: Basic Research
Project Status: Research Complete

Project Summary

Organizations that utilize foster programs are eclectic in structure and nature. The purpose of this University of North Carolina, Charlotte project was to learn about the structure of fostering organizations, what they need to carry out their missions and the principal challenges that they face from the perspective of people, leadership, and management.


To understand the principal challenges that foster programs face from the perspectives of personnel, leadership and management.


In Phase 1, literature was reviewed to learn about the challenges in animal foster programs. The information from the literature review helped to inform the effort's next phases. In Phases 2 and 3, which incrementally build on one another, the researchers surveyed animal welfare organizations and asked them about the principal challenges their foster programs face.


The following areas present challenges to foster programs. These results are robust across organizational type (i.e., shelter v. rescue), though there are slight differences in the extent to which they are challenging for each type of organization.

  1. Recruiting foster homes.
  2. Finding qualified foster homes.
  3. Retaining foster caregivers long-term.
  4. Finding a foster home or place to stay for pets returned to the program.
  5. Foster caregiver burnout.
  6. Caregiver/animal attendance at adoption events.
  7. Advertising/marketing of foster pets.
  8. Getting foster caregivers to adhere to policies and procedures.
  9. Training foster caregivers about animal caregiving.


Considering the results regarding the biggest challenges humane organizations face, the researchers identified a few specific, actionable recommendations to address the needs of these organizations. The hope is that these materials can help animal welfare organizations carry out their mission more effectively and help drive an agenda for the industry.