For those who work at Sacramento’s Front Street Animal Shelter, the Fourth of July means more than flags and fireworks: It means a surge of stray dogs and kittens.
The shelter is urging those who can foster pets to do so, to help make more room during the busy summer months.
Lori Rhoades, the shelter’s dog foster coordinator, said the two weeks before and the two weeks after the Fourth of July are the most strained time of year for the dog foster program.
“Dogs are frightened of the loud firecracker noise so we get many dogs in this time of year,” Rhoades said. “Fostering right now will help us really relieve some of the stress of the space that we have to make room for incoming dogs.”
The Fourth of July also comes at the height of kitten birthing season. Foster homes are needed to take in kittens until they are are old enough to adopt out.
“There are litters on litters of kittens,” said Samantha Burgin, the shelter’s cat coordinator. “Rather than euthanize for space, we foster animals out.”
Front Street currently has about 800 cats and 85 dogs in its foster program. These animals come for many different reasons, from kittens who are too young to be adopted out to animals in need of medical care before adoption.
In addition to making sure that animals are cared for, all of the program’s cats and dogs are spayed and neutered prior to leaving. The shelter coordinates these surgeries, along with all of the other veterinary care, at no cost to foster families.
For Front Street intern and cat foster Taylor Wells, 18, housing kittens through the program has been a formative influence on her life. In the two and a half years her family has been fostering, they have fostered over 100 kittens. They currently have 11 foster kittens in their home.
“It’s kind of like an addiction to helping,” Wells said. “You love it so much that you want to do it all the time.”
If you’re interested in participating in the foster program, the only prerequisite is taking one of the shelter’s twice-monthly foster classes. Some families are even sent home from these classes with their first foster animals.
“You just have to be open to accepting and loving a foster animal in your home,” Burgin said. “That and following the guidelines. Anybody who comes to the class can become a foster.”
Foster families can have children or other animals in the home, but they are required to quarantine foster animals for the first 10 days to prevent fosters from spreading diseases to other pets. Foster care can last as long as three months for bottle-fed kittens or a few weeks if the animal is simply awaiting adoption.
Once a family opens their home to these animals, the shelter is there to provide food, beds, leashes and other supplies if the family is unable to pay for them themselves. For those who are unable to foster but want to help, Burgin said the shelter is always in need of donated pet supplies to give out to fosters for their animals.
If you’re looking to become a foster, sign up for an orientation class on Front Street’s website. The next dog foster class is Monday, July 10, from 6-7 p.m. at the shelter, and the next cat orientation is on Saturday, July 15, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
The Sacramento County Animal Shelter, 3839 Bradshaw Road, is also in need of fosters. There is a cat-foster orientation from 2-3 p.m. July 16. For more information on fostering for the county shelter, email Delyse Gannaway about dogs and puppies, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Sara Warren and Jami Gilmore about cats and kittens, warrenSa@saccounty.net and email@example.com.