Until becoming involved in fostering dogs, I really didn’t consider the difference between adopting a dog from a humane society or shelter vs. adopting a dog that is in foster care. I just figured a dog is a dog, and no matter where they are, they need a loving forever home.

Why You Should Adopt a Dog from a Foster-Based Rescue

Yes, all homeless dogs need a forever home, no matter their circumstances, BUT you as the potential new owner of this dog, want to make sure that you and that dog are compatible and he is the perfect fit for your family. Our first instinct is to go for the cutest and most friendly looking dog available, but there is so much more to consider.

As someone searching for a new dog, you may be concerned about adopting a dog without knowing the dog’s history. You may want to know if the dog is kid-friendly, is the dog dog-friendly, will the new dog be compatible with your current resident dog? These are all very important questions, and if the dog is in a shelter it may be hard to accurately answer.

Foster-based rescue vs. humane society

Humane society or shelters do (or at least should) perform temperament tests. But these tests are done in an environment the dog is not comfortable in. The dog is already stressed from being in the shelter, so these tests aren’t always completely accurate. Read about the 3-3-3 rule to understand the transition periods a dog will go through. The one benefit of adopting from a humane society is it’s usually a very quick process.

You may have to wait a little longer to adopt your dog going through a foster-based rescue, as they usually have a longer application process, but it’s all put in place to help match you with your perfect dog. The best incentive to adopt a dog from a foster-based rescue is that the dog is allowed to get comfortable in a home environment before being adopted.

The foster family really gets to know the dog’s personality, the good and bad. The rescue I work with requires us to keep the dog for 2 weeks before putting it up for adoption. The dogs must be fully vetted, and neutered/spayed before being adopted. We bring the dogs around all different situations to see what he is comfortable with and what he is not. We can honestly let potential adopters know all about the dog’s personality: is the dog comfortable around kids, does he pull on the leash when walking, does he bark at other dogs, is he potty trained, etc.

The 3 Days, 3 Weeks, 3 Month Rule of Adopting a Rescue Dog

Get your free PDF copy of the 3-3-3 rule poster

along with other invaluable adoption resources in our Rescue Dogs 101 From Rescue to Home – Your Survival Checklist.

You may wonder why the dog ended up in the shelter in the first place?

Why would someone give up a perfectly good dog? Well, there are many reasons a dog ends up in the shelter and many times at no fault of the dog. Some of those reasons can be, the owner:

  • Moving to a new apartment that doesn’t allow dogs
  • Don’t have time for a dog
  • Owner past away
  • Allergic to dog
  • Dog was never trained

A study was done on why dogs are surrendered, check it out on Petfinder. There are some crazy stories of why dogs are given up, that doesn’t make them bad dogs, just bad owners in my opinion.

Adopting a dog from a foster-based rescue

All foster-based rescues have different values and rules so it’s important to do your research on the rescue you choose. Check reviews online and from friends to make sure the rescue is reputable. Find out how long the dog is in foster care before being adopted, is the dog fully vetted, do they offer any help after adoption? And when you do find a dog you want to adopt, make sure to ask these 53 Questions BEFORE Adopting a Dog.

The rescue I work with actually offers after-adoption help if you find yourself in a situation you are unsure how to handle. Not all foster-based rescues are as accommodating, so again, ask a lot of questions!

Adopting from a shelter or humane society is not a terrible option, just make sure to be prepared for the unexpected. Decide if you are willing to go the extra mile if your dog ends up having behavior issues pop up after a few weeks in your home. Are you able to afford a dog behaviorist trainer? Are you willing to potty train a dog, what will you do if the dog really isn’t kid-friendly?

We have all the resources you need to adopt your perfect dog on our adopt page here. 

So it’s time to make a decision, will you adopt a dog from a foster-based rescue or a human society? Please share your experiences below to help other people in our Rescue Dogs 101 community…


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About the Author

Debi McKee is a mom of three kids, three dogs and the creator of Rescue Dogs 101... where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She also volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society.

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  1. I have looked at adoption sites and a few I wrote to never replied. Not sure I am doing wrong. Our beloved service dog passed away in January. We are aching for doggie love .
    Maybe I have too many conditions. Female, 20-35 pounds so granddaughter can lift and cuddle in bed. One that will be comfortable with a wheelchair

    1. I know many rescues are overwhelmed with applications and most are run by volunteers that are trying their best to keep up. Don’t give up, be patient and keep trying to connect. Maybe you’ll have better luck trying your local humane society.

  2. Well this is another way to adopt a Dog, and this will lighten up other people where to get their new Dog. I have my pet from Orange County Animal Shelter facility near us so that’s my very first option. After getting the process, i have finally my dog with me.

    I haven’t tried to get a pet from foster based rescue, but i think the way they treat animals are much pretty the same, and rescue dogs are mostly abused, and they need a true care of humans. To sum this up, there is no difference between those two, both servicing for dogs welfare.

  3. The amount of information available to someone adopting is generally greater when a foster situation is involved because the dog has interacted in a home. You can get a more realistic view of interactions with children, other dogs, cats, etc. depending on the situation with the foster home.

    Our first adoption was a puppy and he his foster mother had him house trained. How often can you get a puppy that’s house trained?

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