There are hundreds of families who provide foster care for the AWLA. The program is designed to provide temporary at-home care and enrichment, especially for animals in need of regular medications or health management, animals too young for adoption, and those who need extra socialization. Animals overwhelmed by the bustle of the adoption floor also benefit from a stay in a home, where they can learn to coexist with people and perhaps other pets — and be observed to provide valuable information for the shelter’s adoption staff.
According to Alexandria Gazette Packet, "A robust program before the pandemic, it has swelled in the past year. In March, as the shelter closed to visitors and many AWLA staff members switched to working from home, the shelter turned to fosters to house most of the animals. One challenge, said foster care coordinator Kimberly Weilnau, was finding fosters willing to take animals for extended periods of time and providing abundant supplies to them to minimize interaction with shelter staff for the safety of all involved."
As per Alexandria Gazette Packet, "The pandemic also prompted the staff to develop an online system for orientation of new foster volunteers, to continue to expand the team of foster caregivers and meet the requests of the many interested families. Instead of coming to the shelter, new fosters now fill out a short questionnaire, then read an informative presentation about what’s involved in fostering, followed by a short quiz. “We connect with at least 30 new fosters a month this way, whereas the typical in-person orientation would yield only about half of that number,” Weilnau said."