two fosters holding foster puppies

Fostering at Ruff Start Rescue

Ruff Start Rescue is a foster-based animal rescue located in central Minnesota. Because Ruff Start doesn’t have a shelter to house animals, they rely on generous folks to open up their homes to foster them. In a foster home, animals get one-on-one care, and some often experience what it’s like to live in a home for the very first time. Fosters intimately learn their foster animal’s personality and what type of home they would thrive in once adopted. Thanks to this generosity, Ruff Start Rescue has saved thousands of animals since 2010.

Think you’re not qualified to be a foster? Think again! No foster home is the same, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all foster. 

a kid reading a book with their foster dog

What to expect when you sign up to foster

  • You’ll complete a virtual training session to learn the ins and outs of the program.

  • You’ll join our online community of fosters, staff, and volunteers to share successes, ask questions, and support each other.

  • You’ll keep an eye out on available animals to foster until you see one that you’re comfortable fostering.

  • Once you pick an animal to foster, you’ll visit a supply house or stop by the Rescue office in Princeton, MN, to pick up any supplies needed for your foster.

  • You’ll help your foster learn what it means to be loved and cared for and take them to and from vetting appointments.

  • If you don’t fall in love and adopt your foster animal, you’ll help them find their forever family.

  • Once your foster is off to their new home, you can take a break or find another animal to foster!

Over time, some fosters find their niche.

After you’ve tried fostering a variety of animals, you may realize you have the most rewarding experience fostering a certain type of animal. These could be rez puppies, Texas transplants, owner surrenders, bottle babies, international rescues, critters, bully breeds, sassy small dogs, the list goes on. If this does happen, staff or volunteers may reach out to you directly to foster animals that fit your preference.

Fostering for me was a perfect option because while I want a second dog, my boyfriend and I just aren’t ready for that kind of commitment. Fostering gives you all the best parts of having a dog without the financial and time constraints that owning a dog does. You get to choose what animals will work for your family and lifestyle, and after a short period of time, they head off to their forever homes, which as a foster you get to choose and decide if they’re a good fit. You’re never required to take an animal and can take as many breaks as you need. Plus you get the added bonus of knowing you saved a life and can feel good knowing you are a part of something bigger than yourself, and making the world a little bit better place. ❤ Plus you get first dibs on adoption if you find one you absolutely can’t live without.

LaurenRSR Foster & Volunteer
a foster smiling with their foster dog

Common questions about fostering at RSR

a foster holding two foster dogs

Do I get to pick which animals I foster?

Yes! You always get to choose which animal you foster. Only you can know what type of animal would fit best in your home and schedule.

Do I need companion animal experience to foster?

Nope! Some animals require more experienced fosters, but there are A LOT of animals out there that would do just fine in a first-time foster home. Plus, Ruff Start is with you every step of the way, providing guidance and resources as you need them.

Do I have to be located near the Rescue to foster?

Nope! Ruff Start happily accepts foster homes throughout Minnesota and has supply homes across the state to accommodate them. One thing to keep in mind is that some travel is required to get your foster animals to and from vetting appointments and to their forever families.

Do I need to have a specific type of home to foster?

Nope! Your living situation shouldn’t prevent you from fostering an animal, but it may impact which kind of animal you can take in. If you don’t have a fence, an escape artist dog likely isn’t the best choice. If you have resident cats, then a dog with a high prey drive isn’t a good fit. Don’t worry, you don’t have to make this choice on your own! Ruff Start staff and volunteers can help you find the right foster animal for your home.

Do I need to pay for supplies or vetting?

Nope! All supplies and vetting for fosters are covered by Ruff Start Rescue.

a foster taking a selfie with their kitten

Can I foster with kids and a full schedule?

Absolutely. Fostering is a great learning experience for kids, and they can be very helpful, whether it’s cleaning up, socializing, and tiring out your foster animals. It’s also important to remember that these animals will be going into forever homes that likely have busy schedules as well. As long as you’re able to provide for your foster’s basic needs while they stay with you, that’s all we ask.

How long do foster animals typically stay in foster homes?

It depends on the animal, but the average length of stay is around one month.

two kids holding six puppies

Can I foster if I have resident animals?

Of course! All we ask is that you take proper precautions and do slow introductions when you bring a new foster home. We have lots of resources on how to do these safely and effectively.

Can I pick the adopter?

100%. You know your foster animal better than anybody and will be able to select the applicant that fits best. Some adopters send regular updates to their fosters in case you miss your foster animal. Ruff Start staff and volunteers are always available for guidance on which home is best as well.

a puppy sitting in the grass

Who wouldn’t want a puppy to snuggle and then hand off to their new family? Kind of like babies that aren’t yours, puppy fostering is awesome for us as our resident dogs are picky with their friends, and we can safely and easily separate them. Fostering teaches our kids responsibility, compassion, and the importance of helping animals in need – and it is fun for us all!

Kelly B.RSR Foster & Volunteer

What kind of animals are available for fostering?

If it’s a companion animal, it’s likely available for fostering! Dogs, puppies, cats, kittens, rabbits, and guinea pigs are the most common animals Ruff Start rescues.

Where does Ruff Start rescue animals from?

Ruff Start takes in animals from local impounds, reservations, owner surrenders, internationally, and southern states with pet overpopulation.

What if I’m not ready to fully commit to fostering?

We totally get it! It can be a big commitment. We are always looking for short-term fosters that can watch fosters over a set date like a weekend.

a foster holding a foster rabbit
a four-week-old kitten

I thought for sure I wouldn’t be able to give them up and that they would all be staying but I’m 130+ in and only 3 stayed! It’s so much easier than people think it is and knowing that you helped complete a family while saving a life is the best feeling ever.

RachelRSR Foster & Volunteer

Can I foster more than one animal at a time?

You sure can! Litters of puppies and kittens, pregnant moms, and bonded pairs frequent the rescue as much as individual animals. If you have space and capacity, you can foster more than one animal as long as you can successfully care for them. Over time it gets easier to foster, so lots of veteran RSR fosters take multiple foster animals.

If I did foster-to-adopt (FTA) with an animal, can I foster other animals?

YES! If you have gone through the FTA process within the last year, you are approved to foster any incoming animals with Ruff Start. A refresher course is available if needed.

Won’t I want to keep every animal I foster?

You might! But it gets easier over time, especially when you see families get completed first-hand. And we won’t be mad if you adopt your foster! It saves a step.

Who do I talk to if I have questions?

Various staff and volunteers are available for any questions or concerns during your fostering process. You can always email foster@ruffstartrescue.org for any questions you may have before signing up.