Unleashing insights from Toronto Humane Society’s urgent care fostering program: a community case report





Human-animal bond, housing instability, homelessness, interpersonal violence, domestic violence, healthcare treatments, hospitalization, multispecies families, pet safekeeping, boarding


The Urgent Care (UC) fostering program at the Toronto Humane Society (THS) supports individuals experiencing crisis situations (housing instability, fleeing interpersonal violence, or undergoing healthcare treatments), by providing a no-cost fostering service for their animal(s). All applications to THS’s UC program between January 1, 2020 and October 1, 2022 and all successful admissions to the program during this period were included in this study. There were 358 admissions of 328 unique animals, from 244 families. Seventy-four percent (n = 265) of admitted animals were reunited with their owner. The highest rates of reunion at the end of the program were linked to dogs, requests in support of people fleeing interpersonal violence, consistent or frequent communication with the client, and not requiring veterinary or behavioral care/training beyond standard levels. THS’s UC program presents an inexpensive and effective way to help support people undergoing temporary crises, preserving the human–animal bond, which may help them heal in the aftermath of these crises, and prevent the needless relinquishment of animals to shelters. Through writing this report, opportunities have been identified for improving the program to better serve our community, and details have been provided that might help other organizations operating or planning to launch a similar program.


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How to Cite

Ellis, J. J., Dodson, D., Nagelberg, L., & Bedder, R. H. (2024). Unleashing insights from Toronto Humane Society’s urgent care fostering program: a community case report. Journal of Shelter Medicine and Community Animal Health, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.56771/jsmcah.v3.82



Community Case Study

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