Fostering Hope

By Rodney Tanaka, Senior Communications Writer

POMONA, Calif. - 07/28/2010 -- POMONA, Calif. - Between May and October, the six Los Angeles City animal shelters expect to take in about 9,000 kittens younger than eight weeks old. Such a burden would overload the system, so the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services developed a program for kittens to receive foster care in people's homes.

WesternU College of Veterinary Medicine students are partnering with the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services to find foster homes for kittens. Animal Services delivered 14 foster kittens to WesternU's Pomona campus on Tuesday, July 27, 2010.

Foster KittensThe WesternU Student Chapter of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians (SCASV) is asking for campus volunteers to foster at least three kittens at a time for four to five weeks.

"We want to help out with the overpopulation of these kittens," said SCASV co-president Yesenia Esguerra, DVM '13. "There are so many of them. The shelters get bombarded in the summertime with so many kittens, so we want to try to help them find homes, and also control overpopulation by spaying and neutering."

By law, kittens must be at least eight weeks old to be adopted.

"When we get ones that are younger than eight weeks, we have to decide what we're going to do with them," said Jeremy Prupas, VMD, chief veterinarian for Los Angeles Animal Services. "The best thing for kittens is to foster them, which gets them out of the shelter."

Foster parents have the choice of adopting as many as two picks of the litter that they foster. Last year, 10 people from WesternU fostered 41 kittens.

College of Veterinary Medicine student Chelsea Correa, DVM '12, took in three kittens on Tuesday.

"All kittens deserve a chance," she said. "If I can give them a disease-free place to get fed and watered, then I want to give them that chance to survive."

The problem is simple to understand - too many cats are having too many kittens -- but difficult to solve, Prupas said.

"When springtime comes, the days get longer, and then we know it's going to happen," she said. "By late April-early May, that's when the onslaught happens. Cats are having kittens at the same time. The solution is for everyone to spay and neuter their cats. We can't have these numbers."

Anyone interested in fostering kittens should call their local animal shelter for more information. For more information about the WesternU Student Chapter of the Association Shelter Veterinarians, click here.


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