We are proud to boast a unique adoption experience for prospective adopters called our Foster to Adopt (also known as FTA) program. This program is designed to ease the transition between foster and adoptive homes by allowing families the ability to act as temporary caretakers to an animal before officially adopting them. This ensures it is a good fit for all parties before committing long-term.

Our FTA program is growing steadily, and for good reason. Many prospective adopters enjoy the newfound ability to “test drive” a new best friend to see how the animal they are interested in fits into the many aspects of their family dynamic before making a full commitment. It is also a good fit for those who are interested in high-demand animals of specific breeds, age, and other identifying characteristics. To see if entering the FTA program is the right fit for you and your family, please read more about the process below.

The Foster to Adopt Program, Step-by-Step

Step 1: Adoption Application

The first step to becoming eligible for Ruff Start’s FTA program is by submitting an adoption application. Your application simply shows that you are interested in adopting an animal from our rescue; it is not a binding contract.

A member of our Adoption Application team will begin to process your application as soon as possible, usually within 48 hours of initial submission. Be sure to check your spam folder in the days after submission to ensure you do not miss an email from our team members.

Step 2: Becoming a Foster

After our Application team has processed your application, they will reach out to you directly to discuss the best next steps for your unique situation. This will depend on if the animal you are interested in fostering to adopt is already in rescue or if you are joining our foster team with the intention of adopting an animal that may be in need in the future.

Next, you will likely be asked to submit a foster signup form. While similar to the adoption application you previously submitted, a foster signup form is necessary as it is your first step to becoming a Ruff Start foster parent.

After submission of a foster signup form, you will be contacted by a Foster Coordinator and begin your foster training. This training includes watching a video and taking a quiz to ensure you understand the fostering process as well as what to expect before starting your journey.

Step 3: Bringing Home a Foster Animal

Once you finish your foster training, you are now a Ruff Start foster home.

If you have indicated interest in a specific animal who is already a part of our foster to adopt program, you will be given unique instructions regarding their pick-up date and time, veterinary needs prior to adoption, and projected timeline before adoption can be made official if all works out.

If you are not yet interested in a specific animal, you will be able to choose which animal(s) you would like to foster based on who is available in our internal communication channels. These animals are listed privately and only viewable by approved foster homes, as they are in need of rescue and not available for adoption yet. This is why it is advantageous to be an approved foster home if you are looking for an animal that fits certain characteristics or breed profiles.

The animals we find in need of rescue come from a multitude of circumstances, and we do our best to communicate as much information as possible about them to potential fosters. However, some animals may not have extensive background information available, or may experience behavior changes during times of stress and/or transition, so we are unable to guarantee an animal will immediately be a good fit in your home. We ask for your patience during this process and are happy to provide resources to you that help ease this transitional period for both you and your foster animal.

If you find an animal in need of rescue that you are interested in fostering to adopt, you will then work with the applicable members of our staff and volunteer teams to gain approval and get the animal into your home on a timeline that works for everyone involved.

Note: While not all prospective foster animals are available for public viewing due to privacy concerns and time restraints, a very small sampling of animals that are currently in need of a foster home are made viewable on our public Foster Homes Needed Facebook page.

Step 4: Testing the Waters & Necessary Veterinary Care

After your new foster to adopt animal enters your home, it is put on hold for 10 days while it gets up to date on necessary veterinary care before adoption. During this time, you will also assess if the animal is a good fit for your family dynamic. Extensions may be granted circumstantially, and adoptions may be conducted sooner as long as the animal has been medically cleared.

Animals that are adopted out by our rescue must be spayed/neutered, up to date on age appropriate core (rabies and distemper) vaccinations, blood tested (a heartworm test for dogs and puppies over six months of age, and a FeLV/FIV test for cats and kittens), and microchipped as well as dewormed and up to date on flea/tick preventative.

The rescue will cover all costs associated with veterinary care, but you are expected to coordinate necessary veterinary visits for your animal’s routine care and surgical procedures according to our standard foster protocols. You will also be responsible for your animal’s transportation to and from these appointments, which will most likely take place at the rescue office in Princeton, MN.

Step 5: Adopting Your Foster, or Finding Them a New Home

Once your animal is considered up to date on its veterinary care and has been medically cleared for adoption, it’s go time!

If you decide that your foster animal is a good fit for your household and you would like to adopt, congratulations! You will work with our Applications team to process your previously submitted adoption application by filling out an adoption contract and paying your animal’s applicable adoption fee. Please note that adoption fees are not discounted for those who foster their animal with the intention of adopting it and are considered non-negotiable since they cover the veterinary care the animal receives while in rescue.

If you find that your foster animal is not a good long-term fit for you and you do not want to adopt, the animal will be made available for public adoption on our website. Under this circumstance, we do require that you continue to foster the animal until it finds a great home. This is so we can stay true to the foster to adopt process of bouncing the animal around to different homes less. To do this, you will work with our Applications team to review and meet with potential adopters until your foster animal is officially adopted.

Once you are a Ruff Start Rescue foster parent, you are able to foster as many animals as you feel comfortable with, as often as you would like! This means if you’d like to adopt but your first foster animal isn’t the best match, you can continue fostering until you find a great fit. It also means that, even if you adopt your first foster animal, you can continue to foster with our organization if you find it is a fun experience and you’d like to help further our mission in more ways than one.

What to Know About Fostering to Adopt

  • Ruff Start is a foster-based rescue, meaning that all animals officially under our care stay in homes before adoption. We do not have a physical shelter.
  • Animals already eligible for the Foster to Adopt program may not be medically up to date on everything they need to be cleared for adoption yet. This can include being spayed/neutered or receiving treatment for specific ailments, like heartworm disease. This type of care happens while in the foster’s care, under the rescue’s supervision, before an official adoption takes place.
  • Many animals already eligible for the Foster to Adopt program will have a date in their name and biography as they have not officially joined Ruff Start’s Minnesota-based rescue program yet. For example, their name will state “Fluffy *Arriving 7/27*”. This indicates the animal is being transported to our Princeton, MN office on the date stated, and needs to be picked up by their foster home upon arrival.
  • Fosters are required to coordinate the necessary veterinary appointments their animals need, including routine visits and surgical procedures, while the animal is getting up to date on its vetting. As a foster, you will be responsible for dropping the animal off as well as picking it up from the facility it receives its care at – most likely the rescue office in Princeton, MN.

Sound Like a Good Fit?

If you’re interested in becoming a part of our foster to adopt program, we can’t blame you! It’s a great way to find your new companion.

To view the animals in rescue who are currently eligible for fostering to adopt, visit our adoptable FTA animals page. If you find an eligible animal who interests you and you’d like to start your foster to adopt journey, fill out an adoption application ASAP! Make sure you indicate which animal you are interested in when you submit your application so we can start processing it right away.

If you aren’t finding a specific animal that fits your adoptive criteria but still want to foster to adopt to find the right fit, no problem! Just submit an adoption application to become an approved foster home to get started. Once you’re approved, you’ll be able to peruse what animals are in need of rescue in our internal communication channels, and speak up for one once you find what you think may be your new best friend.

FTA Program FAQ

Still have questions about fostering to adopt? No problem! Check out our FAQ below.

What does FTA mean?

In the Ruff Start world, FTA means “Foster to Adopt”.

How does the FTA program work?

Ruff Start’s FTA program gives approved individuals the ability to take eligible animals into their home to foster them with the intent of adopting them.

Why would I want to participate in the FTA program?

Ruff Start’s Foster to Adopt (FTA) program is a good option for prospective adopters who are hoping to “test” an animal in their personal home environment before fully committing to adoption. It is also a good fit for those who are interested in high demand animals of specific breeds, age, and other identifying characteristics.

How do I view animals who are eligible for FTA?

At this time, there are multiple ways to view the animals currently available for Ruff Start’s FTA program. You can either search for certain eligible animals on our website, or become a foster home to view all animals in need of rescue. In either scenario, the best first step to getting started is to submit an adoption application.

Do I have to adopt my FTA animal?

No! You are not required to adopt your FTA animal if you find it is not a good fit or change your mind.

How long do I have to decide if I want to adopt?

We will place all FTA animals on hold for 10 days while you decide if it is a good fit or not. Extensions may be granted based upon circumstance.

What happens if I don't adopt my FTA animal?

If you decide not to adopt your FTA animal, we do request you remain their foster until they’re adopted by someone else. Please note there is no definitive timeframe for adoptions.

I want to adopt. What happens now?

As soon as your animal is medically up-to-date on its necessary vetting, you can officially adopt.

Once this happens, you will be sent over the necessary paperwork to make the adoption official. Congrats on finding your new family member!

I have further questions. Who should I talk to?

Please email us at info@ruffstartrescue.org if you are interested in learning more about our foster to adopt program.

Ruff Start Rescue