Animal fosters needed for growing pet overpopulation
■ By Elyse Askari / Reporter
Most people’s first thoughts upon hearing the words “animal shelter” may conjure images of small, sick animals in an overstuffed building micromanaged by the state. Unfortunately, this may just be what it has become. Sue Kaitukoff has fostered almost 600 animals since 2015 in association with the Ramona Animal Shelter, and according to her, “the main problem is people don’t spay and neuter, and people aren’t being made aware of it.”
One female cat and her offspring can produce more than 2,000 cats in only four years – that’s a lot of cats.
“If a kitten under 8 weeks old is brought into the shelter and does not find a foster home by the end of the day, that kitten is put to sleep…that is California Law,” said Kaitukoff. The animal shelter is clearly obligated to follow the law, but she and a handful of other volunteers simply cannot stand by. She and the other animal fosterers share the load in giving cats and dogs of all ages temporary homes, adopting as many as they can in the process simply because the thought of letting them die is deeply troubling.
Karen Garrett has been a volunteer at the Ramona Shelter for about two years and in February branched out to start a nonprofit organization called Let Them Be Little. The organization’s goal is to save some of the thousands of kittens euthanized each year due to the shortage of room in the shelter. She is also working to make sure that the animals who do have homes stay with their families by providing a mobile microchip clinic available that costs just $25. Appointments are available from 1-7 p.m., seven days a week to people in the Hemet/San Jacinto Valley.
Kaitukoff and Garrett urge the citizens of the Hemet and San Jacinto Valley to donate time and resources to help these animals. “Spay and neuter your pets, and please foster,” says Kaitukoff, “if only a quarter of the people in this valley would just foster one kitten, it would be huge for us.”
According to Sue, most people who do foster animals of any age, not just kittens, end up falling in love with them and adopting them themselves.
“The biggest thing that we need is donations,” Garrett concluded. Whether monetary or just donating a couple hours a week of volunteering, “it takes a community,” as Kaitukoff put it, to make a difference, and both advocates agree that we all have a responsibility to treat these animals with respect, and find them loving homes.
For more information on fostering animals, contact Let Them Be Little at (951) 487-5557 or visit www.LTBLrescue.org.