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Orange County Animal Services receives $25,000 grant to help kitten fostering program


Scarlett Lucas and Tiani Schifano are employees at the Orange County Animal Shelter. Orange County Animal Services recently received a $25,000 grant from PetCo. Photo courtesy of Orange County Animal Services

Orange County Animal Services recently received a $25,000 grant from Petco Love that will help fund its kitten foster program to improve the kittens' medical care and socialization. 

The grant, announced April 12, will go toward necessary medical care, such as medication and vaccinations, for kittens in the program. Along with increased socialization, fostering helps reduce the infection and transmission of diseases between kittens, like upper respiratory infections and intestinal parasites.

Petco Love is a nonprofit organization founded in 1999. It has helped over 6.5 million pets get adopted with the partnership of more than 4,000 organizations nationwide, including OCAS. 

Jennifer Perez, a Petco Love communication specialist, said the grant is part of the Animal Welfare Organizations grant cycle.

“The investment in Orange County Animal Services is one of the hundreds of other investments that we've made to animal welfare organizations across the country so that we can create a future in which no pet is unnecessarily euthanized,” Perez said. 

Tenille Fox, the communication specialist at Orange County Animal Services, said when applying for the grant in late 2020, OCAS had seen more kittens in foster care than ever before — in part due to COVID-19 increasing the need to keep animals out of shelters. 

"We've kind of tweaked our foster program to help during COVID," Fox said. "Which means more kittens going into this program rather than going through our shelter if at all possible."

The Orange County Animal Services kitten foster program was started in 2017, aimed to help kittens that are too young to be spayed or neutered and adopted. Many of these kittens come during "kitten season," from spring through early winter, when there is an influx of pregnant cats and kitten litters. 

Fox said with the grant from Petco Love, OCAS is looking to grow the kitten foster program.

"We want to be able to have more kittens in this program and be able to provide even better quality care," Fox said. 

She said OCAS would like to encourage foster homes to be more involved by participating in meet-and-greet sessions and other activities. She said this is because foster parents often provide valuable insight into the kittens' behaviors and personalities.

UNC first-year Maya Rampel volunteered at OCAS in middle school and fostered four kittens with her family during her junior year of high school. 

Rampel said fostering encourages socialization, which increases the animals' chances of being adopted and provides additional benefits. 

"I think fostering, in general, is better for the welfare of animals," Rampel said. "The environment of a shelter, however nice the shelter is, is not really suitable for domesticated animals or the best environment." 

Perez said Petco Love invests in programs dedicated to creating productive, effective and innovative ways to make significant, lifesaving impacts in their communities. She said the OCAS foster program encapsulates this. 

"What's great about this program is it's all about fostering," Perez said. "Foster programs are absolutely essential to saving the lives of pets in communities across the nation." 

If you are interested in fostering with Orange County Animal Services, you can learn more here.

@DTHCityState | 

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