The Alachua County Animal Shelter has adopted new foster-parent policies.
To accommodate kitten season, the ACAS has loosened the qualifications needed to become a foster parent, adoption coordinator Dory Rosati wrote in an email. Previously, the potential foster parent had to be associated with ACAS or UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine, but that is no longer the case.
“As kitten season gets into full swing, we do not have enough kennel space for even half of the kittens that come in,” Rosati said.
ACAS loosened the foster-parent requirements to make animal-fostering opportunities available to the public.
In order to be considered eligible to foster a kitten, potential candidates must be at least 18-years-old, complete an application, sign a foster-care contract and interview with foster-care coordinators at Gainesville Pet Rescue.
Rachel Warnes said she is currently fostering a dog for ACAS and a rabbit for Gainesville Rabbit Rescue. The 25-year-old student at UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine said she began fostering animals in 2008 when she lived in Birmingham and this experience inspired her to help animals for a living.
Fostering involves taking an animal home from the shelter temporarily, getting to know the animal’s behavior and teaching it socialization skills, said Warnes.
She also said fostering is a crucial step that helps people who want to eventually adopt an animal. The future adopter will become familiar with the animal’s behavior beforehand and will get the opportunity to see how the animal interacts with others, she added.
Rosati said foster parents are especially needed for young kittens because they are more likely to get sick until they reach maturity.
“(The shelter)’s like a daycare where all the kids pass around their germs,” said Rosati.
Kitten season, the months from mid-spring to summer when kittens are typically born, is when animal shelters tend to see an increased intake in kittens, Rosati said.
Rosati expects the shelter will see about 901 kittens during kitten season this year and more than 1,000 kittens over the whole year.
There are 75 kennels for cats at the ACAS.
Since January, Gainesville Pet Rescue has taken in several pregnant female cats, said Danielle Cummings, the Gainesville Pet Rescue shelter-neuter-return program coordinator. Thirty kittens have been born from the pregnant cats taken in by Gainesville Pet Rescue.
Last kitten season, Gainesville Pet Rescue took in about 300 kittens, Cummings said.
Gainesville Pet Rescue is always in need of foster homes, said shelter manager Stacey Acheson.
“The more foster parents a group like us has,” she said, “the more animals we can pull off our euthanasia list.”