All aboard the #FosterExpressChallenge!

This magical short-term foster challenge arrived November 22, 2019 and ended on January 10, 2020 and focused on short-term fostering only. The Foster Express Challenge was designed to help shelters get more dogs and cats out of the shelter during the hectic holiday season, get them more exposure, as well as attract new foster caregivers.

For this challenge, we defined "short-term fostering” as stays in foster care of more than two hours and two weeks or less, e.g., sleepovers (1 - 2 nights), holiday fostering and off-site field trips that last 2 hours or more.


A total of 155 organizations participated in The Foster Express Challenge. This represented 8,386 dogs and cats who went out on 11,319 short-term field trips.

Of those animals, 5,846 (or a whopping 70%!) were adopted during or shortly after the Challenge.

Prize Winners

Please help us congratulate our winners! We awarded the top winner by annual intake size (Small Shelter: 1,500 or less, Medium Shelter: 1,501 – 5,000 and Large Shelter: 5,001 or more) for three categories, plus 10 random winners, as follows. Please note, organizations could only win one prize, so if an organization was the top winner in multiple categories, the prize went to the 2nd or 3rd place shelter.

Number of Animals in Challenge: $5,000 Grant

  • Small Shelter: Sand Springs Animal Welfare, Sand Springs, OK, 126 animals
  • Medium Shelter: Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption, Mission, KS, 173 animals
  • Large Shelter: Bowling Green/Warren County Humane Society, Bowling Green, KY, 295 animals

Number of Short-Term Foster Trips: $5,000 Grant

  • Small Shelter: Rainbow Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kurtistown, HI, 211 trips
  • Medium Shelter: Kauai Humane Society, Lihue, HI, 299 trips
  • Large Shelter: The Front Street Shelter, Sacramento, CA, 475 trips

Number of Adoptions: $5,000 Grant

  • Small Shelter: Ohio Alleycat Resource & Spay/Neuter Clinic, Cincinnati, OH, 168 adoptions (72% of challenge animals)
  • Medium Shelter: Fredericksburg SPCA, Fredericksburg, VA, 142 adoptions (87% of challenge animals)
  • Large Shelter: Kentucky Humane Society, Louisville, KY, 168 adoptions (86% of challenge animals)

Randomly Selected Winners: $1,000 Grant

  • Austin Humane Society, Austin, TX
  • AZ Small Dog Rescue, Phoenix, AZ
  • Boone Area Humane Society, Boone, IA
  • Hamilton County Humane Society, Noblesville, IN
  • Humane Society Waterville Area, Waterville, ME
  • Pets in Need, Redwood City, CA
  • Public Animal Welfare Services, Rome, GA
  • San Antonio Pets Alive, San Antonio, TX
  • SPCA of Texas, Dallas, TX
  • The Louisiana SPCA, New Orleans, LA

In Need of Special Mention…

While the following organizations didn’t win a prize from us, they’re worthy of a special mention. These 7 organizations adopted out 100% of the animals that went out on short-term foster trips during this Challenge. What an amazing accomplishment!

  • A Path 4 Paws Dog Rescue, Amargosa Valley, NV
  • Dallas Animal Services, Dallas, TX
  • Friends of Strays, Saint Petersburg, FL
  • Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Humane Society of Washington County, Hagerstown, MD
  • Posh Pets Rescue, New York, NY
  • Panhandle Animal Welfare Society, Fort Walton Beach, FL

Breaking Belief Barriers

In addition to the sheer numbers of animals fostered and adopted during this Challenge, many organizations reported success in breaking belief barriers about fostering.

"The most surprising thing about the Foster Express Challenge was how well the community received the program and how engaged they became with our agency. The community rallied behind fostering and really supported us. It helped continue the building blocks to engage the community and bring them in as a part of the solution. Breaking down some of the barriers made the community have more ownership and feel like they can make a difference for individual animals.”

-Annette Ramirez, Director of Field Operations, Lifesaving at Los Angeles Animal Services
"We were surprised at how quickly and easily we were able to implement this program and how popular it was among the community. Some staff were hesitant at first but came to really appreciate and enjoy the program once they saw many long stay dogs getting adopted after participating in the program. We were also pleasantly surprised to see that the majority of foster parents chose to foster adult dogs that had been at the shelter for a while as opposed to rushing to foster the puppies and more easily adoptable pets.”

– Christine ODell, Engagement and Enrichment Coordinator, Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center (Florida)
"Being a cat rescue group, we know some of the challenges that come with placing cats into foster situations, they don't always adjust quickly. However, what surprised us the most was how well the cats adjusted for a short amount of time and how many cats got adopted from this challenge.”

- Kim Kamins, Fearless Kitty Rescue (Arizona)


If you missed the train but want to start a short-term foster program at your organization, check out these resources.