Foster Program

AWLA Foster Program

AWLA Foster volunteers have helped thousands of animals over the last 13 years. Temporarily caring for an animal in your home allows our shelter to take in more animals that need help. In-home care by a dedicated foster parent also offers the individual attention that is just what our most vulnerable animals need. Foster parents are special people who selflessly open their homes to give animals a new chance at life.  This is not an easy task, but the impact on animals is incredible.

There are hundreds of kittens, cats, puppies, dogs, and small companion animals each year  who need our help. As a foster volunteer you may host animals with special medical or behavioral needs, mother animals with nursing litters, or orphaned animals who need special feeding and socialization, like puppies or kittens. By fostering animals you are directly preparing them for adoption into loving homes.

If you have room in your home and in your heart, please consider becoming a part of our team. The League provides all supplies, there is no minimum time requirement, and we are happy to help people find their niche. Fostering offers you the opportunity to volunteer in the comfort of your own home as many or as few times throughout the year as you’d like.

To apply to become a foster, please download and fill out our foster application, and then email to our Foster Program Coordinator at If you can’t foster right now but want to help, please donate items from our wishlist.

Continue reading below to learn more about the additional programs within our Foster Program that you can be a part of!


Animal Ambassadors

Our new Animal Ambassadors program helps us get adoptable dogs (and sometimes cats) out of the shelter and into a home where they have a chance to shine! Some pets don’t show their true personalities in the stressful kennel environment which, in turn, causes them to stay in the shelter longer because visitors don’t connect with them. The Animal Ambassadors program gets these pets into a real home environment where the dogs can relax, and their fosters can discover the dogs’ true personalities. Most pets we place into foster for this reason go from being stressed out, shy, and not interested in attention, to being incredibly smart, affectionate, wonderful pets that anyone would be lucky to have as part of their family.

The Animal Ambassadors program empowers foster families to be a vital part of the adoption process. We ask fosters are able to commit to their foster pet for a minimum of 30 days, and market their foster pet in their communities and through their social media channels. It’s important for fosters to take lots photos and videos of their foster pet so we can better market them to our adopters. In addition, we invite these fosters to meet potential adopters and help us find a great home for their foster pet.


Weekend Warriors

Weekend Warriors is a part of our Animal Ambassadors program that allows people to foster on a more short-term basis. Weekend Warrior fosters pick up one of our eligible dogs and take them home for the weekend, making sure to bring them to one of our off-site adoption events to help that pet reach a new pool of potential adopters. We also ask that they take photos and videos of their foster pet so we can better market them to our adopters when they come back to the shelter.


Kitten College

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington has opened the regions first neonatal kitten nursery in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area!

Local support and fundraising can help us save many more kittens at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s Kitten College.  The response to our program and services has been overwhelming as we have been able to assist under-served areas and shelters forced to euthanized kittens on intake.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is one of the only municipal shelters in the nation that takes in kittens from other jurisdictions. In fact, AWLA takes in just a very few kittens from Arlington Co, thanks to our highly successful trap-neuter-return program that has greatly reduced the population of feral cats. Instead, the Kitten College answers the needs of shelters and groups in D.C., Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. We take in orphaned and sick kittens that require bottle-feeding and specialized care; some remain in the College for intensive care, while others go to our expansive network of foster caregivers.

The Kitten College opened in late July 2017 and by year’s end had taken in 356 kittens from newborn to eight weeks old; during the entire previous year (2016) AWLA took in 92 kittens of the same age. In just five months the Academy tripled the amount of kittens saved while also increasing the survival rate.  So far in 2018 we are on track to reach our goal of saving 1000 kittens!

Please contact Marnie Russ, Kitten College Coordinator, at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington if you would like to become a part of the Kitten College Foster Program:



Ringworm Kitten Foster Program

Do you have a spare bathroom you never use? Do you LOVE spending time with kittens and cats? We’re in special need of foster families to be a part of our new foster program and help us care for kittens and cats with ringworm! Ringworm isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds – read on to find out more about our new foster program and how you can help us save lives!

What exactly IS ringworm?

It is NOT a worm, as the name may lead you to believe! Ringworm is a fungal infection that affects the skin, hair, and occasionally nails of animals (and people). It is very closely related to athlete’s foot found commonly in humans. It typically manifests itself on kittens (and sometimes adult cats) as areas of hair loss and patchy skin on the head, feet, or tail. While ringworm is a zoonotic infection – meaning it can be passed between species – it most commonly affects young animals and those with suppressed immune systems. Younger kittens’ immune systems are not fully mature, and they are notorious for not grooming themselves well, which is why we tend to see ringworm more often in kittens.

Ringworm is not as difficult to handle as it might sound, and our Foster Coordinator and Animal Care Team will be here to support our fosters every step of the way!

Why does AWLA need ringworm fosters?

Our foster families are lifesavers! While ringworm treatment in a home is pretty straightforward, it’s not so easy to treat in a shelter environment. Sadly, many shelters across the country euthanize kittens that are diagnosed with ringworm, an easily treatable condition. Well, not here at AWLA!

We have been treating kittens and cats for ringworm for quite a while here at AWLA, but because ringworm can spread quickly in the close quarters of a shelter, the kittens have to be isolated for 3+ months in a special room while they receive treatment. This sadly limits our contact with them since we have to handle so many other animals each day. We know that this lack of attention and socialization for such long periods is difficult for them. The stress of isolation can also cause their immune systems to weaken, meaning it takes their bodies longer to recover from the fungus. We know that these kittens and cats would be so much happier if they were being treated in a warm, loving home – just like yours!

What Do I Need To Foster Ringworm Kittens?

  • An extra bathroom, utility room, or other space that can be easily cleaned with bleach.
  • Be able to bring your fosters in once a week (Tuesdays or Fridays) for lyme dips (a topical sulfur treatment).
  • Be comfortable giving your fosters oral and topical medication.
  • Household pets must be kept separate from foster kittens and cats.
  • Patience – you don’t have to limit the amount that you handle kittens and cats with ringworm, but you need to take extra precautions when handling them.
  • Lots of love and affection!  These kittens need just as much love and socialization as the next kitten, they just happen to require a different kind of care.

What Does AWLA Provide?

  • Food, litter, litterbox, toys, and any other supplies you need!
  • Medication (oral and topical).
  • Instructions on the treatment process.
  • Support from the medical and foster staff every step of the way!
  • Kittens! Cute, fluffy, adorable felines! (And if you prefer laid-back, grown-up kitties, we occasionally have adult cats with ringworm that need a foster home too!)


*Those with compromised or low immune systems or very young children should not participate in the Ringworm Foster Program. However, please let us know if you are interested in being a part of our regular foster program!*


The Bond Program

The Bond Program seeks to provide outside-the-shelter foster care for animals whose owners are in crisis. It preserves the bond between human and animal and precludes the necessity of owners to surrender animals to the shelter. This program will also be used to put appropriate Animal Control case animals into foster homes pending court hearings. We are need of families who are willing to foster these animals for short periods of time (typically around 30 days) until we can work with the owner to find a more permanent solution.

To apply to become a foster, please download and fill out our foster application. If you can’t foster right now but want to help, please donate items from our wishlist.

“We started fostering in 2006, after losing our 19 year old and 16 year old cats a few months apart. Since then, we have fostered over 200 kittens, quite a few of them being bottle babies. It can be trying, getting up to feed in the middle of the night, running sick ones to the vet, cleaning up messes, and the worst, losing sick kittens. But even after all of that, the rewards of saving the sick ones, getting to see them grow up and go to loving homes, getting “kitten fixes” after a bad day… make it so worth it.  I think it’s about the most rewarding thing I have ever done. And yes, a wee bit addictive.” —— Jamie N.

“It’s been a pleasure being a foster parent to many kittens from AWLA.   I’ve fostered so many different types of kittens:  older kittens, very young kittens, various colors and different personalities.  All the kittens have one common thread – they are happy to have a safe, fun and loving environment to explore while waiting to move on to their forever homes.  The kittens will reward you each day by purring, sitting on your lap or playing with you whenever you have time for them.  When I return them to AWLA,  I watch for their picture to be added to the adoption website.  It’s a better feeling when I see their picture removed because they were adopted!  AWLA provides the support that you need to make fostering kittens an easy task.  They are always available to help in any way.”  – Kristina N.

“Fostering has been great for me because I travel so much for work that I’m never sure from one month to the next how many weeks I’ll be in the country.  Fostering has been great because I can love a pet for the short time that I have them, but don’t have to feel guilty that my own pet isn’t getting enough love and attention because I’m gone for so long. “ –Katie M.