Found kittens highlight need for animal foster families

LAMONT, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) -- Two sick kittens were spotted by a resident in Lamont, and though he was first told Kern County Animal Control could not rescue them, by mid-day the small animals were safely at the shelter. But, animal control officials said the plight of these kittens also highlights the serious need for more animal "foster families."

The two kittens had apparently been dumped in a trash can in front of an abandoned house. That's where the resident had noticed the little animals. "He called, and thank goodness we went out and we were able to just open the lid of the trash can, and we found these two adorable kittens in there," Senior Animal Control Officer Tracy Wolfe told Eyewitness News.

The viewer who called reporters said he had called Animal Control, but was told officers could only pick up dogs. Eyewitness News asked about those policies.

Wolfe says budget cuts have forced the department to streamline, but they can still rescue cats in some situations. "Sick and injured cats, yes -- we'll still respond," Wolfe said. "Normal, stray, healthy cats we no longer respond to pick up and bring back to the shelter."

But, even once animals are retrieved, they need more help.

The kittens found on Wednesday are probably about four weeks old, Wolfe said. They're in pretty good shape, and must have had a mother nearby fairly recently. But, they both have upper respiratory problems.

"We're going to feed them some antibiotics, give them some food and love," Wolfe said. "And, I think they'll pull through just fine for us."

But, next they'll need more help, and Animal Control needs the public assistance to provide that. The small kittens will need care until they're old enough to be adopted at about eight weeks old.

"At this point, we're going to ask our foster coordinator to try to find foster homes for them," Wolfe explained. And while Animal Control has about 100 foster homes signed up, spokeswoman Maggie Kalar said they really need about 400 fosters available.

"We ask that the foster families, if they provide the homes and the food -- then we'll provide the veterinarian and instructional guidance to that foster home," Wolfe said. The officer says the foster coordinator is available to answer questions round the clock.

Anyone interested in providing foster care can find an application on the Animal Control website. Kalar said that can be filled out and brought to the office on South Mt. Vernon Avenue. Also, the foster coordinator can be reached at 868-7131.

The two kittens found on Wednesday have been named Tom and Berry. One is grey and the other is orange. The Animal Control officer is convinced they would not have survived, if the Eyewitness News viewer had not worked to contact them.

Kalar said the department will check into the "miscommunication" that happened when the viewer first called about getting the animals picked up by an officer.

And, the department stresses they need the public's help to save animal lives. "We just can not do this alone," Officer Wolfe said. "We're getting over 32,000 animals a year. We have to have help from our community."