Foster Care Program

The Irvine Animal Care Center provides sheltering, care, and enrichment for homeless, neglected, abused, or unwanted animals. Services include licensing for Irvine residents, pet adoptions, and events.

Animals too young to be spayed/neutered are extremely fragile creatures with relatively low survival rates. Underage animals require around-the-clock care, and without it, most shelters must euthanize. The center invites you to join the mission of saving underage animals by becoming a foster volunteer or by donating much-needed supplies.

Donate to the Foster Care program from our Amazon or Chewy wish lists and have items shipped directly to the center.​ We've created a handy wish list if you'd like to shop at your local pet store and drop off items to the donation bin outside the center entrance during business hours.

Foster Volunteers

By becoming a temporary pet parent, foster volunteers give a home to kittens, puppies, baby rabbits, or animals recovering from an injury or medical procedure. Fosters contribute time, energy, and a quiet, secure, indoor space away from any pets you may otherwise have. The center provides training, equipment, supplies, and veterinary care.

Fostering can last from a few days to several weeks. You tell us your availability, and we’ll match you with animals in need. Once an underage animal reaches its mandatory age and weight, and receives a clean bill of health, it returns to the center to be spayed/neutered and made available for adoption. Adoption is not the volunteer’s responsibility.

The success of our Third Chance for Pets program relies heavily on the number of fosters the center has available. The more foster volunteers supporting the center, the more animals we can help.

Foster Volunteer Candidates Must Be:

  • At least 18 years old.
  • Able to text, check email, and use the internet regularly.
  • Able to demonstrate the Essential Capabilities for Foster Care.
  • Not volunteering for a court-mandated reason.
  • Comfortable interacting with people and animals.

Program Requirements:

  • At least two hours per day to care for the animals; most often for 4–6 weeks.
  • A quiet, secure place inside the home that’s separated from family pets.
  • Ability to transport animals to the center for routine veterinary care.
  • A willingness to implement basic behavior training (provided).
  • Flexibility to accept animals on short notice​.

Foster Care Volunteer Opportunities

Bottle Babies 

The Irvine Animal Care Center is in need of foster caregivers able to open their hearts and homes to our most vulnerable animals. Orphaned neonates require the around-the-clock care that the mother would normally provide. Foster volunteers take on these duties for orphaned bottle babies: 

  • Bottle feeding every two to three hours, day and night, for up to 3 weeks.
  • Help going potty and gentle cleaning.

Weaning Babies 

Weaning puppies and kittens require the around-the-clock care, but on a schedule that is less intense than Bottle Babies. Foster volunteers take on these duties for weaning puppies and kittens: 

  • Syringe feeding every four hours for a week or two, as/until the animals transition to eating regular food.
  • Kittens may need initial help learning to use a litterbox. Puppies this age are too young to be housebroken, but ample potty pads are provided.
  • All weaning babies will need gentle cleaning.

Large Breed Mama Dog with Puppies 

The Irvine Animal Care Center is in need of foster caregivers with big dog experience and a comfort level caring for a mama dog that weighs 45-75 lbs. plus her litter of puppies. A typical litter is 5-8 puppies. 

  • Experience & ability to walk a strong dog 
  • Once the puppies begin to wean, space where they eat & sleep plus space for going potty. 

To get started, submit your email address to Learn more about the center's volunteer program here.