Foster Program Consultant

I've been talking to people about day outing programs (where pets can go to foster for just a few hours or a whole day), and I'm hearing a ton of success stories. It seems that day outing foster may be 'gateway' to longer-term foster and a way to increase the adoption of medium and large dogs. I'm wondering, does your shelter have a program like this? How is it run? Is the general public able to take dogs on day outings, or only approved foster caregivers and/or volunteers? How successful is it, and do you have any great stories for us?

  • Sistine    May 20, 2018 at 05:36 AM

    HSEC has a "Doggie Field Trip" option for volunteer shifts every day. Volunteers can choose the times of 9-11 am or 11- 3 pm. Our volunteers have already signed liability releases, etc. They have to sign out the dog and ask a staff member who would be a good fit for whatever they have planned for that day. We do not allow dog parks, but other than that, they are free to do almost anything. Some people go jogging in a local park, some take dogs to their home to hang out for the day, some go to Petco, etc.

    We also have a weekday foster program. Our facility is open Friday through Sunday, so on Sunday evening volunteers can come pick up a dog for the work week to spend the week with them. It helps the dog become acclimated to a home, and it also helps our staff have a little relief in cleaning throughout the week.

  • Supersvensk    May 17, 2018 at 04:06 AM

    Mostly Mutts Animal Rescue in Kennesaw, Georgia has this program. Although I don't work a regular shift, I come every week and take different dogs on hikes or to my back yard to play fetch and relax. This is also an opportunity to get some good "outdoor" photos and video for promoting them. We have a list of "approved for day outings" volunteers and we sign the dogs out and in on a log so we can see who has been on a break recently. As another poster mentioned below, only dogs approved for adoption are allowed off property. We also have many who do "short break foster" when the dog comes home with them for a night, a weekend or longer. This is good way to learn how they act in a home and even one night away from the facility is very beneficial to them. Luckily, we have a large number of "regular" foster families as well.

    • Finn    May 18, 2018 at 06:19 AM

      Awesome! How does a person go about taking a dog out? Do they have to be a standing volunteer first?

      • Supersvensk    May 19, 2018 at 06:46 AM

        Yes, you have to be an approved foster or a volunteer with a minimum number of hours under your belt.

  • Finn    April 19, 2018 at 12:34 PM

    I'll be at Texas Unites in Austin next weekend. I'd love to chat with folks who have a program or are looking to start one so if you're there, look for me! I don't actually look like the picture (shhh...that's actually my dog Waylon) but I do look like this.

  • Amber A.    February 07, 2018 at 03:06 PM

    We, in Galveston County, Texas, allow this. It is a great way to give the dogs a break. We have had zero issues.

    • Finn    June 21, 2018 at 01:56 PM

      Amber what shelter are you with?

      • Kim at Maddie's   Maddie's Fund Staff  June 22, 2018 at 02:50 PM

        @Finn @Casey If you click on Amber A's hyperlinked name it will bring you to her profile preview screen. In her "About" section, she says she's the Director of Animal Services in Galveston County.

    • Casey    May 20, 2018 at 08:29 AM

      Amber, which shelter in Galveston County?

    • Finn    February 08, 2018 at 08:31 AM

      Amber I just shot you a message - I'd love to hear more about your program!

  • fredSPCA    January 26, 2018 at 02:10 PM

    Yes! I attached our protocol! The program is wildly successful and innumerable animals have gotten adopted because of the exposure!

    • ChrisD    February 04, 2018 at 08:15 PM

      Question for everyone following the thread, how does insurance work for the off-site hike? Specifically are there any public shelters out there that are doing these hikes?

      We are the friends-of organization of a city shelter. If there are similar organizations out there doing these hikes, please advvad or contact me directly about the insurance question.

      Thank you.


      • cnovello    February 06, 2018 at 12:50 PM

        and we also have volunteers sign a release form before they take the dog out ...

      • cnovello    February 06, 2018 at 12:48 PM

        Hi Chris -

        Here's some info for you regarding insurance. I would definitely recommend it but it isn't really any different from other types of insurance a shelter should have. Specifically, we have 3 areas that we've looked at in regards to this program and it is covered under other policies:
        Injury to the volunteer while out with animal is handled through Medical Expenses covered under Volunteer Accident - $5,000 limit
        Injury caused to a third person by the shelter animal is handled through Third Party bodily Injury coverage under General Liability policy
        Damage caused to a property by the shelter animal is handled through Third Party Property Damage coverage under General Liability policy

        We are aware of several city/municipal shelters running Doggy Day Out programs. If you'd like to connect with them specifically, let me know and we can introduce you.

        Keep us posted if you decide to move ahead!

        - Carol

        • ChrisD    February 07, 2018 at 08:21 AM


          Thank you for the information! I would very much be interested in speaking to some of the shelters you know of that are doing a program like this.

          Thank you


          • Hillary at County SC    June 05, 2018 at 11:30 AM

            Hi Chris--

            We've just started a Foster Field-Trip and Sleep-Overs program over the past month open to the public and including all available dogs right now (except puppies). We are test-driving a "no barrier" approach and may have to tweak it over time BUT feedback has been tremendous and our dogs are loving it. Still early days to see what that data says in terms of adoptions but we have also gotten some dogs into longer-term foster because of it. Feel free to touch base with me and to check out our Facebook page at County of Santa Clara Animal Shelter to see some examples of public feedback.

          • Finn    May 15, 2018 at 07:12 AM

            @ChrisD - we now have a DDO program administrators FB group - if you'd like to chat with other shelters that have programs, it'd be a great place to start. If you shoot me an email at I can get you added to it.

    • Finn    February 01, 2018 at 01:26 PM

      Fred can you email me at I'd love to chat with you about your program.

  • Nik    December 19, 2017 at 08:34 AM

    We had a very different, but similar program. We had a program called Hiking Buddies. Obviously, the volunteers who participated have to go through specific training and follow specific guidelines. but the basics of the program is that volunteers could "check out" a dog for the day. Some volunteers would take the dog out on an all day hike, some would just take them down to the local park and introduce the dog to everyone they met. Some volunteers would take the dog to their home and spoil them. We promoted the program as a way for the community to get their dog fix and/or have a hiking buddy. It was very popular. The down side to the program was that not every dog was available to participate. We created a specific Hiking Buddies dog list every month. Like Laura below, I have all the documents for this program if anyone is interested.

    • Kelly Duer    January 03, 2018 at 02:12 PM

      I would love to see the logistics for your program! Could you email them to me at Thank you!

    • Pet Haven    December 19, 2017 at 08:47 AM

      We're thinking of hosting "pack walks" in which fosters (and adopters) could bring their dogs out for a day hike and we'd invite a local trainer to join the group for the day. As a foster-based rescue, our goal is to help adopters who are having issues with their dogs learn tools and tricks to socialize their dogs, and for our fosters to do the same. Would love any information you have to share about Hiking Buddies!

  • Laura    December 18, 2017 at 11:14 AM

    We have a Doggy Day Out program that allows members of the community to take our large kennel stressed dogs offsite for up to 24 hours. I have lots of documents to share if you are interested.

    • Danielle    February 12, 2018 at 04:08 PM

      Hi Laura,

      I am very interested in your program. Would you email your documents?

      Animal Services Manager

      City of Grand Prairie (TX)

      • Laura    February 13, 2018 at 10:29 AM

        Finn Dowling of Mutual Rescue fame will be in touch with you to share our SOPs and toolkits Hope you love it as much as we do.

    • Kelly Duer    January 04, 2018 at 12:31 PM

      Laura, I am very interested in learning more. Would you be able to email me?

      • Laura    February 13, 2018 at 10:32 AM

        Finn Dowling of Mutual Rescue fame will be in touch with you to share our SOPs and toolkits Hope you love it as much as we do.

  • Tammy Jo    December 14, 2017 at 01:40 PM

    We have a temp foster program called Bow Wow Break Out. It allows for a 10 minute break out up to a 48 hour break out.

    Below is our protocol - We have had tremendous success the past two years!

    Bow Wow Breakout Protocol – Pick-Up

    · The person participating must be a volunteer, staff, active foster or will need to complete the Bow Wow Breakout (BWB) Application and be approved by a member of the MACC management team.

    · Eligible animals must be:

    o property of MACC (off stray hold)

    o available for adoption

    o spayed/neutered

    o vaccinated for rabies.

    Puppies under 6 months of age are not eligible for BWB. MACC Manager and MACC Medical Director have the authority to approve any additional animals for a BWB.

    · Staff processing the BWB will need to complete the following:

    o Answer any participant question related to the dog and/or BWB process.

    o Provide the participant with any and all meds needed for the duration of the BWB.

    o Provide the participant with an overnight folder that will include:

    § kennel card

    § medical records

    § personality and information form

    § post-op information if needed

    § Emergency Medical Contact Information

    · Remind participate that a BWB is up to 48 hours, anything beyond that timeframe will need to transfer into the foster adoption ambassador program.

    · Place a memo regarding expected return in Chameleon.

    · Outcome the animal as a BWB Participate in Chameleon.

    · If the animal is returning within 24 hours, place BWB signage on kennel with expected date of return. This will place a hold on the kennel.

    · Initial all components on the BWB check off list.

    Bow Wow Breakout Protocol – Return

    · Process the animal “back” into the system. Follow appropriate chameleon return policy.

    · Collect any food or meds and request the Personality and Information Form, if they did not complete the form at home, ask them to fill it out before they leave the facility.

    · Return the animal to their kennel.

    · Place the Personality and Information Form in the programs office pre-approved location. (Box marked – “Bow Wow Breakout Forms&rdquo

    · Programs Office designee will enter the information into Chameleon.

  • Sirius Vet    December 13, 2017 at 11:43 AM

    In our city we have a group that rescues dogs from local animal control and places them with foster parents.

    The group rents an adorable house in an accessible area of town where foster parents drop the dogs off each day from 8-5. Potential adopters are able to adopt while visiting the "adoption house".

    This group of foster volunteers raised the money to rent the house, staff the house and fund all medical care for the pets.

    They adopt out 30-40 dogs per month. Most incredible.

    • Pet Haven    December 19, 2017 at 08:44 AM

      I would love to contact the rescue that rents the house if you're able to share their name. What a fantastic idea!!

    • Kelly Duer    December 15, 2017 at 08:55 AM

      SUCH a great idea!!

  • Zooramey    December 06, 2017 at 07:33 PM

    I looove this idea, as a person interested in fostering dogs. I have reservations about fostering because I have 2 young children, but a "day outing" commitment would be the step I would need to get back into the fostering door. If my local shelter offered this, I would take advantage of it.

    It looks like a shelter in Hawaii offers this program....maybe you could go to check it out