VIP (Very Important Paws) Foster Volunteer

What is a VIP Animal? 

These are animals in the care of the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society who may need a little extra help learning new behaviours. The program allows our Animal Behaviour Coordinators to set these VIP’s up for success in our Animal Centres and foster homes, using evidence-based training and Fear Free® techniques in conjunction with dedicated animal care teams across the province.


The VIP Foster Program could include:

  • A puppy who needs help learning new behaviours and getting acquainted with the world around them
  • An adolescent dog or cat going through the terrible teens
  • Animals who have a good chance of adoption but who are under-socialized or too emotionally stressed to thrive in an Animal Centre environment
  • Dogs or cats dealing with more difficult behaviours due to the centre setting.


Volunteers with the VIP Provincial Foster Care Program will temporarily provide a safe and nurturing environment while taking care of animals in their homes. Living in an Animal Centre can be stressful for some animals; this program offers animals the chance to thrive in a home environment.



What does it mean to be a VIP foster?  


Our Animal Centre staff or Animal Behaviour Coordinator will provide an individualized care plan, including information sheets, and a training and enrichment plan that has been implemented and proven successful. The goal is to set the animal up for a long, happy life.


Some of our VIP friends need additional training and extra love before being adopted into their forever home. Very Important Paws means Very Important People and a Very Important Placement in these buddies’ lives. 


Foster Responsibilities:

  • Follow all training plans/protocols provided by Ontario SPCA & Humane Society staff
  • Complete appropriate charting/documentation as provided by the Centre and/or Animal Behaviour Coordinator (training goals, outcomes, etc.)
  • Provide feedback on the animal's progress and reach out if there is a change in the animal's behaviour or a halt in progress
  • Volunteers will work with the Centre staff and Animal Behaviour Coordinator to provide care for the animals following evidence-based and Fear Free™ techniques.



General Responsibilities:

  • Provide a safe environment for the foster animals
  • Follow Fear Free™ evidence-based techniques
  • Abide by all Foster Program policies and procedures
  • Ensure safe interaction with people and other animals
  • Follow the animal care plan as outlined by the Animal Centre
  • Provide transportation for the animal as needed
  • Ensure any other animals in the home have up-to-date vaccinations.
  • Pick up animal care supplies from the Animal Centre
  • Communicate with the Centre Manager or Animal Behaviour Coordinator weekly
  • Report any bites or scratches immediately to the Centre Manager
  • Feed, medicate and monitor the health of foster animals
  • Groom, exercise, and train foster animals
  • Report any changes in the animals health




  • Minimum of 18 years of age
  • Ability to follow directions as outlined by the Centre staff or Animal Behaviour Coordinator
  • Previous experience caring for animals with behavioural needs
  • Access to (or ability to provide) transportation
  • Ability to provide a safe and appropriately sized space to house foster animals that is segregated from household pets



  • Complete an online volunteer application form
  • Complete volunteer orientation forms and training
  • Complete foster care training
  • Previous experience working with animals exhibiting behavioural challenges
  • Meet with the Behavioural Coordinator
  • Separate area in your house where your foster animal could be segregated from your animals


* Preference given to Fear Free™ certified trainers

* Completing Fear Free™ Shelter online training is an asset

* We recommend that you have a separate area in your house where your     

   foster animal could be segregated from your animals



  • Foster Program volunteers will be supervised by the Animal Behaviour Coordinator or Centre staff