baby gerbils foster

Fostering and volunteering

“Rescue: It’s not just a verb. It’s a promise.”


Is your child begging you for a pet? Do you wonder if a child is responsible enough to care for a pet? Do you wonder if a pet would fit your family’s lifestyle?

Why foster an animal?

Foster care is the perfect opportunity for you and your family to learn and care for a pet without the obligation of a long-term commitment.

It’s not just kittens and puppies. Ducks, guinea pigs, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons – so many creatures and animal societies can use your help.

Fostering or volunteering at a shelter is a wonderful way to help out those in need and prepares children for caring for a beloved creature long term.

baby gerbils foster

Let us tell you, waking up every few hours to bottle feed little babies (in this instance, gerbils) is a life-changing experience for kids that teaches compassion, dedication, and responsibility.

But what a feeling of joy and accomplishment when all three little gerbils lived!

Pets are often bought on impulse but never should be. Too often, they become unwanted guests dumped when the realization hits that they are more work expected.

Check with your local humane society. You can search wildlife sanctuaries, rescues, or small animal rescue centers. You can bring little creatures into your home or volunteer onsite. You may be surprised to learn of many places in your local area that need help.

There are many options available depending on your age, availability, experience, and comfort level.

types of fostering or volunteering

  • You can foster animals short-term in your own home until they are found a permanent home
  • Some animals need help overcoming sickness, injury, or abuse before they can be adopted (these may not always be the most compatible with young children
  • Formula feed baby animals (orphaned kittens or puppies or some wildlife)
  • Volunteer at a shelter to provide fresh food and water or cleanup
  • Assist with the animal release for wildlife
  • Offer your land for animal release

Toronto Wildlife Centre

For some examples of types of volunteering for wildlife care, see the Toronto Wildlife Centre

Your own area may have many similar opportunities.

Note that working with wildlife requires a little forethought. These animals are not pets and need as little handling as possible. Some require tetanus shots or other vaccines, depending on the wildlife you would like to work with – but this is optional since many types of care don’t require this).

The South Florida Wildlife Center has volunteer options, fostering, and internships. Just do a little searching.

Give It a Try!

If you’re feeling a little timid about trying it, start small. When you see that glow in your child’s eyes as they realize their little hands have helped an animal in need, the joy you’ll feel will be incomparable.

International Volunteering

This is a much larger scale and may not be for everyone (and it’s expensive). But we wanted to include this option to show that getting involved has no end, and some experiences can be extraordinary.

We have no experience with GoEco, and we are not endorsing them but are just using it as an example if it’s something your truly passionate kids are interested in. You can use this as a gateway to search for other ways to get involved in your area (and with minimal cost).

Rated the Top Volunteer Organization of 2018 by GoAbroad, they are an eco-tourism company with a varied selection of volunteer projects abroad (there are A LOT). They focus on voluntourism vacations. Some projects, like the Zimbabwe African Wildlife Orphanage, offer family packages. Talk about a unique family vacation!

Their website says: “We act as a gateway to over 150 extraordinary community, wildlife, and environmental initiatives all over the world thanks to our great partnerships. Our providers are well diversified, ranging from local community groups to renowned global organizations. Our projects are carefully vetted to ensure every volunteer experience meets our standards and yours.”

We would love to know if anyone does try something like this and what your experience was!

Here is one video from Costa Rica:

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