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Toronto Humane Society's "Urgent Care" Temporary Fostering Program for Pet Owners Experiencing Crisis

By Dillon Dodson

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Category Reports

Toronto Humane Society's "Urgent Care" Program:  Keeping Pets with their Families

In March 2020, Toronto Humane Society launched our "Urgent Care" respite fostering program for pet owners experiencing a crisis rendering them temporarily unable to care for their pets.  The program gives pet owners an alternative to surrender by offering their pet a  temporary, loving home while their human gets back on their feet.

Since launch, we have provided care to ~ 200 animals!!


Moving Beyond Direct Service 

What may be lesser known, is that the "Urgent Care" program strives not only to help our local community but to have a wider reach! 

 And with that intention in mind, we are humbled to share with you today the official launch of our "Urgent Care Manual"!! 

The "Urgent Care Manual" is essentially a blueprint. A detailed, step-by-step guide for other animal organizations to implement an "Urgent Care" program of their own. Following our model, other groups can work to strengthen the human-animal bond in their communities and address a growing need for more accessible animal care.   

In the manual, you will find not only how to operationalize a similar program but even more!  We dive into the complex and compounding dynamics as to why our community families are in need of Urgent Care.    At Toronto Humane Society, we recognize, like many of you, that animal welfare services are connected to larger systemic challenges, and we recognize that these issues can have direct impacts on pet owners' access to, and ability to utilize pet care services. 


Sharing is Caring 

Sharing our knowledge and work with other animal organizations is incredibly important to us. Our policies, practices, and procedures aren’t just for us, but for animals, their caregivers, and the organizations who support them everywhere.  

Our hope is that this "Urgent Care Manual" may assist other organizations in their journey to implement similar programming. 

We invite you to view the Urgent Care Manual here


To learn more about Toronto Humane Society’s Urgent Care Program, visit us here


If you have any questions or feedback, we'd love to hear!


Date September 2021
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal shelters
  2. Animals in culture
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Pet ownership