You are your foster dog's advocate


As the main caregiver for your rescued dog, you are the best to determine whether a potential adopter is a good fit for your particular dog's unique personality. We ask all of our fosters to take a leading role in the adoption process.

STEP 1:  Application Review & Approval

Applications are reviewed by Waggytail operations including landlord approval, vet reference (if applicable) and personal references. The foster should review the application more thoroughly as those who know the pup best. In some instances, fosters are asked to check potential adopter's references. See below for questions to ask. If you are not checking references, read the adopter's application carefully and then email the applicant to set up a time to talk via phone. Be as open and honest as possible about your foster dog and answer any questions they may have. If/when an application is approved, a Waggytail core volunteer will email you, then you are responsible for arranging a meet-and-greet with the potential family (all people and pets should be present). Please keep in contact with us during this process to let us know how things are progressing and to ask for any advice.

Personal Reference Questions

Best if a phone conversation, but you can also text or email the following to the personal reference provided by the applicant:

  1. How long have you known the applicant and in what capacity (personal/professional)?

  2. Would you consider the applicant to be a responsible person? From what you know (not a typical topic of conversation) are they financially equipped to care for a dog?

  3. What two or three words would you use to describe the applicant?

  4. Have you seen the applicant interacting with animals? How would you describe that interaction?

  5. Do they currently have pets? Have they had pets before? Do you know where those pets are now?

  6. Describe the applicant's lifestyle/routine/home.

  7. How long is the applicant out of the house during the day? Do they travel a lot?

  8. Do you know of any reason why now might not be a good time for the applicant to adopt/foster?

STEP 2: The Meet & Greet

After this, it is time to say goodbye to the dog you rescued.  You will feel conflicted. Do your best to hide these feelings from the dog and be ready to say a calm/brief goodbye to your foster dog, and then help to get the dog in a travel crate for their trip to their new home (along with their favorite toys & food).  A short, undramatic goodby will set your foster dog up for success when separated from you and to thrive in their forever home.

  • Pick a location where your foster is most comfortable so their true personality may be seen by the potential adopter. Usually the potential family comes to you.

  • Be sure your foster dog has a secure and well-fitted harness or martingale collar for the meet and greet. Most accidents/escapes occur during physical transfers like this.

  • Be sure your dog is safe - especially if they are an 'escape artist' or easily spooked - you may want to do the meet-and-greet in a fenced-in area or a community garden or at a dog run when it is not busy.

  • Since this is most likely the first time the adopter and their family interacts with your foster, it's a good idea to try to schedule a meet-and-greet with enough time for everyone to get to know each other in a variety of situations - at least an hour.

  • An outside meeting on neutral territory - a quiet side street or in or near a park - is best.

  • If the adopter is bringing another dog to meet your foster - follow this video of gentle introductions.

  • If your foster is nervous or shy, keep the focus off the dog for the first few minutes and just start walking.

  • After a few minutes of your talking about the dog's personality and habits, hand the leash off to the adopter, and keep walking. If the dog has become attached to you, just keep walking with them until you can splinter off and meet them back in front of wherever you started. This gives them time to get acquainted with the dog allow the adopter to gain a more thorough understanding of the dog's personality and current level of training. 

  • Allow your foster dog to be themselves. We STRONGLY suggest that all members of a family come to the meet and greet, surprise adoptions are not recommended!

  • If there are known allergies, be sure to try to get your foster to lick (give kisses) on hand or arm and for all humans to pet the dog.  Use peanut butter (if your foster is not big on kissing). Allergens are in dog's dander and saliva and it may take several hours for symptoms in human to bloom.  Plan accordingly. 


All went well? Follow STEP 3 below. If you are not comfortable following the meet-and-greet, follow your instincts and politely let the adopter know that you need to discuss this with us. We want to minimize the potential for dogs being returned and want you to be as confident as possible that the adopter and foster dog are a good match. We know this is can be a difficult decision, so please be honest with us.

STEP 3: Transfer Agreement & Fee

Your foster can be adopted the same day or the adopter may need a day to sleep on it and to prepare for the arrival, but we don't typically hold dogs for longer than 24 hours. If another application is received and approved 24 hours after a meet & greet (while they are still making their decision) the dog may be adopted to the other party. We do not accommodate trial adoptions. Adoption fees are non-negotiable & non-refundable.

These must occur before foster goes to fur-ever home:

  • Submit the Transfer Agreement - smartphone NOT recommended, but any of these options are supported:

    • PDF version - sign/scan or submit electronically to

    • ONLINE version submitted automatically - should send you confirmation email

  • Pay the Adoption Fee/Donation with any of these options:

    • Venmo (@WaggytailRescue) - include dog's name in payment

    • Zelle ( - include dog's name in payment

    • Paypal ( - include dog's name in payment and select "Friends and Family" (otherwise need to add extra $15) 

    • Ask for instructions if paying by cashier's check or cash (rare circumstances).

**If the pup is not neutered, add an additional $100 (refundable) deposit**

All documentation and tags that came with the animal, plus any information and vet records or medical treatment they received while in foster care, should be given to the adopter. The adopter is responsible for supplying all necessary items for their new dog. You are not obliged to provide the adopter with anything you have purchased for your foster dog, however, if you would like to give a favorite toy or blanket you are welcome to do so!

Say Goodbye to your Foster

After this, it is time to say goodbye to the dog you rescued. You will feel conflicted. Do your best to hide these feelings from the dog and be ready to say a calm/brief goodbye to your foster dog, and then help to get the dog in a travel crate for their trip to their new home (along with their favorite toys & food). A short, undramatic goodbye sets your foster dog up for success when separated from you and to thrive in their forever home. Be gentle with yourself and try to focus on the exciting new life that pup is about to have. Be proud for helping them find a family!

We sincerely hope that fostering is positive and rewarding and that you foster again in the very near future. Once you have been approved to foster with Waggytail, you do not need to re-apply each time you want to foster, but let us know if your housing situation changes so that we can re-confirm the pet policy with your new landlord.


What if I Want to Adopt My Foster?


That is wonderful news! Please visit the Adoption page here for details. Standard adoption procedures and fees apply. We ask that adoptions be finalized within 2 weeks of first indicating you want to adopt.


All fosters who are interested in adopting their foster before they begin caring for them, are given about 10 days where the pup is hidden and adoption applications are not submitted. After this time, we ask that you move forward with arranging meet and greets with other potential adopters!

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