Yolo County Foster Program Boosts Kitten Live Release Rate
Each spring, Yolo County Animal Services (YCAS) is inundated with kittens. For example, the Woodland, CA shelter – which takes in approximately 4,500 animals a year – received 1,000 kittens in 2012 alone.
Kittens have special, intensive needs, and YCAS desperately needed foster and volunteer networks to help kittens through this vulnerable stage. Dr. Cynthia Delany, YCAS’s supervising shelter veterinarian and shelter manager, said that while the shelter has intake for animals of all ages, housing underage kittens is an area of special concern. “For example,” says Delany, “underage kittens must often be bottle-fed several times a day until they are able to eat solid food, something shelter staff cannot do due to limited time resources.”
Before the program was in place, YCAS sent underage kittens to rescues, but those groups rapidly filled up, leaving many kittens with nowhere to go. “It is our belief that a dedicated fostering program will attract more volunteers, run more efficiently, and therefore allow us to foster more animals and increase our live-release rate,” Delany explained.
Funding from the ASPCA helped YCAS create its first foster program and defray costs of medical care to make the kittens ready for foster placement and adoption.
As recently as 2010, before it had a foster program, YCAS’s live-release rate for kittens was approximately 30-34%. With the new foster program, and thanks to the time and compassion given by foster volunteers, YCAS was able to place 334 kittens in 72 foster homes from April 1 through October 1, 2013 – sending the kitten live-release rate soaring to 93%.
The shelter also instituted reduced adoption fees, adoption promotions, a community cats program, and off-site adoption events to increase adoption rates for cats and kittens in general and to support placement efforts for kittens coming back from foster.
More About YCAS
The Yolo County Animal Services Shelter is the local shelter for Yolo County in Northern California. The shelter takes in approximately 4,500 live animals per year (primarily dogs and cats) and is run by the sheriff's office. The shelter provides full animal-control services (field and kennel) to all incorporated cities and unincorporated areas within Yolo County and provides care for stray and owner-surrendered animals. The shelter offers animals for adoption on-site and has recently started offering off-site adoption events.