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You are integral to our mission.

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The Dutchess County SPCA is committed to helping all of the abandoned, sick, abused, and stressed animals that come to our shelter and give them the best possible chance at finding a loving, permanent home.

Volunteers perform vital services for the welfare of the animals, freeing staff to do their jobs and allowing us to help many more animals than we otherwise could. Without volunteers to walk dogs, socialize cats, and assist in the many responsibilities associated with caring for such a large population of animals, DCSPCA would not be able to maintain its high standards of animal care.


If you choose to volunteer as a foster parent, you are providing a home with love and attention that is better than any shelter. In addition, foster parents not only save the life of the pet in their care, but also make a space at the shelter for another homeless animal that needs help.

  • How much space do you need to foster?
    If you have a spare bedroom or clean, temperature-controlled finished basement, you can give shelter to an animal in need of temporary housing!
  • How long is the commitment?
    Some of our pets need just a few days in foster; some need a bit longer. Each dog and cat is different! We will find the perfect foster pet for you and your schedule.
  • What kinds of pets are fostered?
    Kittens and puppies under 8 weeks old must go to foster until they are altered and their vaccines are up-to-date; they have a better chance of avoiding illness in a home. Pets with medical needs recover and heal better in a home. Pets that need one-on-one socialization will receive personal attention in a home. Pets that are approaching the end of life deserve to spend their final days in a home.
  • Is it expensive?
    It is not expensive, and what you want to spend is up to you. All fosters receive 8 weeks (the average time for fostering) of food, litter and pans, harnesses, beds, and other supplies as required by individual animals. Many fosters supply their own food to help relieve the burden on the shelter. All medications are provided as well as veterinary care by the shelter vet. Any other special items such as that cute toy you saw at the store may be provided by your choice.
  • Afraid you'll get attached?
    There’s no shame in what we call “foster failing!” However, many of our foster parents find joy in sending their foster pets into new homes, and then they are ready to help another dog or cat.
  • How do you become a foster parent?
    Please fill out the appropriate application below. Our foster coordinator will be in touch to schedule a foster interview for you! Foster a Dog Foster a Cat or Pocket Pet
  • Can’t foster but still want to help?
    Visit How To Give.
  • Still have questions?
    Email or call ext. 412
  • How old do I have to be to volunteer with the animals?
    You must be at least 18 years or older to volunteer. We apologize for the restriction, but issues related to insurance force us to impose this requirement.
  • If I'm under 18, what jobs can I do?
    You can organize a drive to collect items from our wish list. You can ask your friends, relatives, neighbors, and classmates if they’d like to donate things such as blankets, towels, dog toys, bags of kitty litter, cleaning supplies, etc. These donations are very helpful to us, since we use an enormous amount of supplies every year. You and your family can also help with foster care.
  • Are there other requirements for volunteering?
    You should be able to read and communicate well enough to follow instructions. You should get along well with others, because you will have to work closely with staff members, other volunteers, and occasionally the public. You should also have the ability to work independently without close supervision.
  • Is there a minimum time commitment?
    Yes. If you have an animal-care job, we request that you agree to volunteer for at least four hours per week, for at least a year. (You’re welcome to commit to a longer shift, if your schedule allows it.) We apologize for imposing such stringent requirements. The reason is this: the staff and existing volunteers invest substantial time and effort into training new “recruits”. Having a large turn-over would put a strain on everyone involved. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. Please see the explanation further below.
  • Are there exceptions to the rule about time commitment and keeping a regular schedule?
    Yes. Foster care is performed in your home, so there is no particular schedule. Special event help is done on an as-needed basis. Some of the other non-animal-care jobs are also more flexible about time commitments. Ask us for details.
  • Do you offer a summer-only program?
    Not at this time.
  • Does your volunteer program cover court-ordered community service?
    No, we are unable to accommodate court-ordered community service at this time.
  • What if I only need to do a certain amount of hours for school?
    You may help with a special event if one is scheduled. You can do this without attending our volunteer orientation sessions. Advance notice is required, usually at least two weeks. Please use the inquiry form to let us know you are interested in helping with a special event! You can also organize a drive to gather items from our wish list. Just keep track of how much time you spend on this project, and we’ll sign any documents required by your school.
  • How do I set my schedule?
    Once you have completed our orientation sessions, the staff and existing volunteers will work with you to determine a mutually acceptable schedule.

Additional info for DCSPCA foster parents:

  • Are at least 18 years of age to foster cats and 21 years of age for dogs.

  • Will be living in their current residence for the next year.

  • Must provide assurance that all members of the household are in agreement with fostering (roommates, family members, etc.).

  • Must show proof of adequate facilities to care for the animal (sufficient sanitary space).

  • Must have their own transportation.

  • Complete our Dutchess County SPCA Foster Application process.

  • Sign our Foster Parent Contract.

  • Are willing to help find a forever home for their foster pet.

  • Participate in adoption events and social networking to find potential adopters.

With guidance from the DCSPCA foster families will:

  • Provide a wholesome environment for the pet including good food, clean water, and suitable accommodations for waste relief—clean litter boxes for cats and regular walks for dogs.

  • Provide socialization and enrichment in the form of attention, toys, and treats, and adventures, sometimes with special training protocols for dogs.

  • Provide a warm, safe, clean sleeping area inside your home, with appropriate pet bedding.

  • Administer medications if needed and as directed.

  • Transport the foster pet to the Dutchess County SPCA to see a veterinarian when necessary.

  • Provide pertinent and timely information to the Dutchess County SPCA about the pet’s health and behavior.

  • Transport the foster pet to the Dutchess County SPCA for adoption appointments.

Additional info for

  • Dog walking (requires a training session)

  • Cat socialization (interactive play and handling)

  • Shelter upkeep (laundry, cleaning)

  • Enrichment (making kongs and toys)

  • Donation sorting and stocking

  • Grounds maintenance (weed whacking, playground cleanup)

  • Office work (computer entry, filing) and many other project-based activities.

Volunteers are a critical aspect of our operation and are always welcome and needed. There are many different opportunities based on your preferences and abilities.

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