We are proud to offer prospective adopters the ability to join our Foster-to-Adopt (FTA) program. This program is designed to ease the transition between foster and adoptive home by allowing families to select an applicable animal to foster before completely adopting them.

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.

Becoming a Foster with the Intention of Adopting

Step 1: Foster Application

The first step to becoming a foster and therefore eligible for the FTA program is submitting a foster application. Your application simply shows that you are interested in fostering an animal, whether that be with the intention of adopting or not; it is not a binding contract.

A member of our Foster Coordination team will begin to process your application as soon as possible, usually within a week 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.

Processing of the application may include but is not limited to: a background check of all individuals in the applicant’s home; a veterinary check to ensure resident animals are up-to-date (altered, with all vaccines current); a landlord check to ensure applicants are compliant with tenant agreements when adding a pet to their household; and general reference checks, if applicable.

Step 2: Foster Approval

After our Foster Coordination team has processed your application, they will reach out to you directly to provide you the applicable training you need to understand the fostering process and discuss your questions and concerns as well as schedule a visit of your home to ensure it is a safe environment for care of our foster animals.

Once you finish your foster training, you are considered an approved foster home through our rescue. You will then be given access to our internal communication channels to see animals in need of foster homes!

Step 3: Bringing Home a Foster Animal

Once you are able to see what animals are in need of foster homes, you will be able to choose which you would like to foster. The animals that are posted on our internal communication channels are private and only viewable by approved foster homes, as these animals 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, 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 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 anytime after day five 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 nine 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 It a New Family

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 submit an adoption application for your animal and subsequently work with our Applications team to process the adoption by filling out the adoption contract and paying the 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. To do this, you will work with our Applications team to review and approve potential adopters until your foster animals is officially adopted.

Once you are approved a foster home, you are able to foster as many animals as you feel comfort with as often as you would like! This means if you’d like to adopt but your first foster animal isn’t your forever companion, 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.

Sound Like a Good Fit?

Your next family member is waiting! The best way to become an approved foster home is to fill out a foster application. If you’d like to foster-to-adopt after becoming approved, please indicate in your application you are interested in Ruff Start’s FTA program.

You can also view a few of our potential foster-to-adopt animals on our website. At this time, we only offer the ability to search for certain dogs or puppies that are eligible – we’re working on offering more options soon! To view these pups, please visit our Dogs & Puppies page and type “Arriving” into the search bar.*

*Please note these animals follow a slightly altered FTA process than those that have not yet entered rescue. To view the standard process followed for the dogs and puppies we bring up from our Texas shelter partners, visit this page.

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, the best way to view the animals currently available for Foster-to-Adopt is to either become an approved foster home or search for certain eligible animals on our website.

At this time, we only offer the ability to search for certain dogs or puppies that are eligible for our FTA program. Please visit our Dogs & Puppies page and type “Arriving” into the search bar to view dogs/puppies who are eligible for FTA.*

*Please note these animals follow a slightly altered FTA process than those that have not yet entered rescue. To view the standard process followed for the dogs and puppies we bring up from our Texas shelter partners, visit this page.

Do I have to adopt my FTA animal?

No! You are not required to adopt your FTA animal.

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 its foster until it is adopted by someone else. Please note there is no definitive timeframe for adoptions.

I want to adopt. What happens now?

Adoptions may take place anytime after day 5 as long as the animal in question is up-to-date on its necessary vetting.

Once you decide to adopt, your adoption application will be processed in a timely manner 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 our foster-to-adopt program.

Ruff Start Rescue