Animals arrive at the shelter in all manners of health.  While most fortunately are ready to be adopted or go into foster care, some animals that come in are terminally or chronically ill.  To meet the needs of these animals, a team at SAS worked together to develop plans for Fospice program.  The team just needed a grant to fund it and get it off the ground.  The Fospice program and grant request was brought to the board of the Seattle Animal Shelter Foundation in late 2016, who understood the need and how it would support animals battling serious illnesses. With the help of SASF, the program launched successfully. The purpose of the Fospice program is to provide terminally or chronically ill animals an opportunity to live out the remainder of their lives in a loving home.  It provides a choice other than euthanasia for the animals that would have little chance of adoption due to their medical condition.  

The animals that qualify for fospice care have a good short -term medical prognosis but a poor long-term prognosis.  The selection criteria is a life expectancy of 6 months or less and the animal has a reasonable quality of life. Animals that arrive at the shelter and are recognized as possible fospice candidates receive a physical exam by the shelter veterinarian.  It is then determined if the animal’s medical condition(s) qualify the animal for the Fospice program.

From there, a fospice request is sent out to the fospice volunteers to find a home where the animal can live out their lives.  The animal is given supportive and symptomatic care as needed to provide comfort and manage specific medical issues.  There is not a time limit to the fospice care, and it is always celebrated when the animal defies the odds and lives longer than expected.

Recently, Mila, “the five pound president of the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee” passed away peacefully in the company of her foster parents.  It was reported in the Seattle Animal Shelter newsletter that “she enjoyed her last months hunting toy mice, befriending an Australian Shepherd, warming laps and watching the world go by out the nearest window.”

The foster parents are chosen the same way other foster parents are, with the caveat that they are willing to deal with the issues that the Fospice program can bring:  up to and including tough conversations about quality of life and palliative care. There are currently 13 cats, one dog and one guinea pig in fospice care.  To learn more about volunteering, go to