In-Home Heroes is the Michigan Humane Society’s short-term, in-home foster care program which saves lives by helping animals who need a little extra time and TLC prior to adoption. Often referred to as animal fostering, MHS’ progressive program is designed with a convenient, short-term, structured focus, providing the maximum value to the animals, and to their temporary caretakers.
Animals may be placed in foster homes for a variety of reasons: illness, injury, they are too young for adoption, etc. We supply the resources – you supply the love.
- Food and supplies provided
- Help animals in your home, as your schedule allows
- Program includes training and support
- You choose which animals you can help
Fostering may be for you if you can answer Yes to two or more of the following questions:
- Do you love animals?
- Have extra space in your home and extra time in your schedule?
- Do you have prior pet care experience?
- A frequent traveler who can’t commit to long-term pet ownership?
- Are you interested in opening your home and heart by becoming an in-home hero?
To become an MHS foster caregiver, call 734-398-4961 and leave a message with your daytime contact information. Have questions about fostering animals? Please call Laura Kniffen at 248-283-1000, ext. 127.
Foster Program FAQ
Fostering an animal is also very beneficial to you as a caregiver. Every animal you foster is equal to animal lives saved. Knowing that you are saving lives is one of the most rewarding feelings possible.
Is there anything that I should consider before taking the next steps to become an In-Home Hero?
Do you have consistent, reliable transportation?
Do you have the availability (sometimes once a week or more, as needed) to bring a foster animal in for medical re-check and routine care appointments?
Do you understand and accept the fact that foster animals may have fleas and/or intestinal parasites? (Note: MHS will make every effort to let you know if the animal you plan to foster has one or more of these parasites and treatment will be administered, but occasionally foster animals carry them without our knowledge.)
Do you understand and accept the fact that pets in your home (if any) may become ill by exposure to a foster animal? (Note: MHS recommends keeping your animals separate from foster animals; at the very least, you should abide by a 10-day quarantine period prior to any introductions. However, these precautions still cannot guarantee that illness may not still spread.)
Do you have reliable access to the internet for obtaining information about available foster animals?
If you answered “no” to one or more of these questions, the MHS foster program may not be the best fit for you. Please feel free to call and discuss any of these questions or your concerns with the Community Outreach Department.
How long is the average foster stay?
What species of animals should I expect to foster?
Each foster parent/family can choose what species they are most comfortable with taking into their home.
Will I need to provide supplies for my foster animals?
Can I introduce my foster animals to my pets?
Do I have to train my foster animal?
What kind of care should I expect to provide for my foster animal?
What kind of special needs should I expect when taking in a foster animal?
Upper Respiratory Illnesses (URI): Symptoms include sneezing, coughing, discharge from the nose or eyes, lethargy, loss of appetite, and elevated temperature. This is the equivalent to the common cold and is contagious to other animals, especially of the same species. Regular re-check appointments and medications are generally needed.
Intestinal parasites: Intestinal parasites can be very common in shelter animals. All animals are given a general dewormer (pyrantel). Additionally, they are tested for specific parasites when we are able to get a fresh stool sample. If any parasites are identified the animal is treated accordingly; however some parasites are difficult to identify.
Weight gain: In some cases, kittens and puppies do not weigh enough to be spayed or neutered and safely placed up for adoption, so additional time in a home environment is most beneficial for them. Likewise, adult cats and dogs may be significantly underweight and would do well with some extra care. These animals may also be ill, or may come down with a URI from having been in a shelter environment, so it is important to monitor them for signs of illness and to let the Community Outreach Department know if you notice any sneezing, coughing, etc.
Surgery recuperation: Some animals may need an extensive surgery, requiring additional recovery time that can be best provided in the comfort of a home. They may have special requirements, such as limited activity, pain medications or bandage changes.
Treatable skin conditions: Animals occasionally have demodex mange (A small mite that lives on the skin of dogs) or a flea allergy. Treatment for these can take up to several weeks and may require skin scrapes for testing and specific medications.
House training/litter box training: Young puppies and kittens, small breed dogs, and some larger adult dogs may require some help with this training. For kittens, the process is quite quick and simple; for puppies and dogs it may take longer and require a lot of patience. It is always important to monitor kittens’ litter box use, and let the Community Outreach Department know if kittens are consistently not using the box.
Basic obedience training (dogs): Occasionally a dog will need specific training assistance to help prepare him for his forever home. People with dog handling and training experience are always a great fit for these special animals.
Socialization: Some animals can be a bit shy or fearful and need time and interaction with people (the more the merrier!) to become comfortable. This generally requires a good amount of play and snuggle time for these pets. These animals may also be ill, or may come down with a URI from having been in a shelter environment, so it is important to monitor them for signs of illness and to let the Community Outreach Department know if you notice any sneezing, coughing, etc.
Heartworm Treatment (dogs): Heartworm treatment is a long process and requires 2-3 months in a foster home with extremely limited activity. The dogs will go through one or two rounds of injections, and sometimes need additional re-checks and specific medications.
Short-term fostering (less than two weeks): In an effort to prepare animals for adoption events, it is helpful for some to go into foster care for the week or two leading up to the event to make sure they do not get a URI. These animals generally just require basic care and will need to be transported either to one of our facilities or directly, to the event on a specific day/time.