The Foster Factor: Orange County Animal Services Offers Program for Kittens to be Adoption Ready
For Orange County Animal Services, offering a foster care program that places pets in temporary homes until ready for adoption saves thousands of lives every year. Animal Services relies heavily on foster parents and their expertise to help animals, especially kittens, that would not otherwise thrive at the shelter due to being sick, injured, in need of socialization skills and/or are too young for adoption.
“During the summer months, we get up to 80 animals a day entering the shelter, mostly underage kittens,” said Amy Sullivan, Orange County Animal Services’ adoptions and foster coordinator. “Kittens, when they’re less than 8 weeks old, don’t do well in shelters because their immune systems aren’t fully developed yet. They require around-the-clock care and need to be placed in foster homes quickly.”
During Animal Services’ busiest season, it typically has 300-350 kittens out in foster care at any given time, with additional underage kittens being brought to the shelter every day.
“Each individual foster parent helps save dozens of lives by helping these animals get ready for adoption,” said Sullivan. “The more foster parents we have, the more pets we’re able to help.”
Becoming a foster parent requires attending the shelter’s foster orientation to learn more about the program. The shelter “posts” out animals in need of foster care via e-mail, and the foster parent can select from any of them, but they are expected to transport the pets to the Animal Services clinic for rechecks every two weeks.
“A friend of mine had been fostering kittens, and she told me how fulfilling it is,” said Jessica Garcia, foster parent who resides in Baldwin Park. “I went to an orientation course at Orange County Animal Services and picked up my first foster kitten, Coco, a week and a half ago. It’s a big commitment, but well worth it.”
Fostering a kitten can be up to an 8-week commitment, but Coco is now ready for adoption, and she already has an interested family filling out the paperwork. They will be able to take her home as soon as she’s spayed.
“I’ll be fostering more cats now,” added Garcia. “I already have two cats, and my father told me there was no way I was going to be able to foster and not adopt, but I understand the important role fostering plays. I still get attached, and I would have kept Coco in a heartbeat, but I found her a home and that was my goal.”
Kitten foster parents must reside within Orange County and/or be an employee of Orange County Government. For more information, contact Orange County Animal Services at 407-836-3111 or visit www.orangecountyanimalservicesfl.net.
Photo Caption: Jessica Garcia with foster kitten Coco.