When people come into animal shelters with orphaned kittens, particularly during the summer months, the shelters can be hard-pressed to save them all. But what if the very person who cared enough to bring in the kittens could be persuaded to foster them until they were old enough to get adopted?
That was the premise of a recent survey conducted by Maddie's Institute, seeking to understand how frequently shelters encountered this scenario, how likely they were to ask for help, and how frequently requests for help were successful. Additionally, we wanted to understand what types of support shelters offered to those community members who agreed to care for the kittens.
Some key takeaways:
1. Asking for help was correlated with getting more help.
2. Asking Good Samaritans to sign up for a formal foster program deterred them from helping as compared to those who were allowed to help informally.
3. Offering support in the form of veterinary care or supplies was correlated with more positive responses to requests for help.
Although this stage of the research did not aim to provide clear protocols to enhance community care initiatives, it did identify areas for future research.
Additionally, it suggested the following steps for those who want to improve community lifesaving for kittens immediately:
1. Develop stronger and more enthusiastic approaches when asking community members to care for stray kittens brought to the organization.
2. Find ways to offer veterinary care and supplies to community members caring for kittens.
3. Offer training, but do not require formal program enrollment for community members who are willing to care for a litter of kittens they bring to the organization.
You can read the complete report, as well as a summary, here.