All About Marie

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Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at www.blogtalkradio.com/petplace; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 18 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of one baby boy, and pet parent of three cats, two dogs, and a cockatoo.

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Fostering Baby Animals


On this Mother's Day, I thought it would be appropriate to share a letter I received some years ago by a previous program coordinator for the Irvine Animal Care Center foster program.  It's still a valid piece of information and for all you potential foster mothers (and fathers) out there, this is for you...

Dear Marie,
Anyone who’s ever raised even one kitten or puppy knows that it’s a lot of work to care for a baby pet. Now imagine caring for more than a hundred of them at once! That’s the reality every year at the Irvine Animal Care Center, where our kennels are filled with litters of pups and kittens—some with mothers, some without—who need extra-special attention. We call upon our team of Foster Care volunteers to take these little critters into their homes, attend to their physical needs, and give them the handling and socialization they just couldn't get in a kennel. Foster care isn’t an easy job, and it can be more than a little messy, but it’s one of the most enjoyable and rewarding ways to help pets in need—and we’re looking for people who are willing to help us out during the upcoming “kitten season”!
Eliza Rubenstein, Program Coordinator
Irvine Animal Care Center

Dear Eliza,
As always, I am happy to help animal shelters that do such good work as the Irvine Animal Care Center. So readers, if you are interested, here is what you need to know: Training for this very special commitment is offered regularly.  If you work during training dates, but want to attend, now is the time to talk to your employer and make arrangements for a little time off for a good cause. Who knows…maybe your boss will want to come too!

There are a few rules. First, you must be at least eighteen years old. I know you younger animal lovers are all groaning now, but hang in there. You’ll be eighteen before you know it and there are plenty of other animal care activities you can get involved in.

The next big rule is this – you must live in a home or apartment that allows and welcomes pets. Don’t try and sneak a litter of puppies into a no-pets facility. That will only lead to major problems and the potential loss of your home.

Do NOT take on this responsibility if you can’t see it through to the end. These animals have already had a stressful life. Your job will be to socialize them and make them feel comfortable. When volunteers decide a week or two into fostering that it is just too much for them to handle and bring the animals back to the shelter - where they have to wait again for another foster home - irreparable psychological damage may occur, especially if the animals are bounced from foster home to foster home. So please make sure that
you've thought this through.

If you do know that this is what you want to do, or if you want additional information, then please call the center at (949) 724-7745. There is limited space for these free fostering seminars, and reservations are required. You can also stop by the Irvine Animal Care center, which is located at 6443 Oak Canyon, just off Sand Canyon between the 5 and 405 Freeways.The fact that animal shelters are still filled with puppies and kittens brings me to my final point.

For years, humane educators, pet columnists, celebrities promoting animals welfare, veterinarians, and other animal care professionals have been trying to make the case that pet owners must spay or neuter their pets. There is no reason for animal shelters to be anything more than temporary housing for pets that have accidentally strayed from home. Yet this is still far from the case.

Animal shelters are used as dumping facilities by people who fail to take their pet ownership responsibilities seriously. Pet adoption is a commitment that is supposed to last for the lifetime of a pet…not until it becomes inconvenient. That means that pet owners must ensure that their animals do not reproduce unwanted litters of young. It means that all pets wear current identification. It means that all pets are vaccinated against contagious diseases. It means that all pets are kept safely confined. And finally, it means that all pets are loved and cared for as long as they live. For some fairly simple responsibilities, it never ceases to amaze me that we are not even close to making this universally accepted. As a result, our animal shelters are filled to
capacity and taking up the responsibilities as best as they can. We owe them a huge debt of
gratitude.

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