New Zealand’s oldest and largest animal welfare charity is pleading for summer foster volunteers, as SPCA Centres around the country battle a tidal wave of kittens in what’s shaping up to be the busiest breeding season in recent memory.
While kitten season technically only began in spring, SPCA has seen approximately 47% more kittens in its care in September compared to the same month last year. The influx – as well as a slow-down in dog adoptions during winter – means many of the charity’s 29 Centres are overloaded with animals and reaching capacity ahead of the busiest summer months.
SPCA General Manager Animal Services, Corey Regnerus-Kell, says it’s crucial to get as many of these animals into temporary foster homes in order to free up space for more vulnerable animals to come into SPCA’s Centres.
“This kitten season is already shaping up to be the busiest yet with 1,400 kittens and cats currently in our care, and we predict we’ll have around 3000 by the end of the year,” says Dr Regnerus-Kell. “We desperately need the public’s help to care for these beautiful animals until they are well or old enough to be desexed and put up for adoption.
“While we have a wonderful network of foster volunteers who generously open their homes to animals in need, the reality is that many people head away over the Christmas period for a well-deserved break and return the animals to our care, which puts more pressure on our Centres. Please, if you’re able to help us this summer, especially if you are staying put over Christmas and New Year’s, we need you.”
Spending time in foster care is an important part of helping SPCA’s animals recover from illness, injury and gain crucial socialisation in a home environment to help prepare them for adoption. Research also shows that welfare outcomes are better for animals that spend time in foster homes, compared with Centres, as it’s a more calming environment.
“Many animals that come to SPCA have either suffered neglect and abuse, or are not used to human care. Living with a foster family helps them build their confidence and get used to being a loved pet,” says Dr Regnerus-Kell. “If you are in a position to temporarily open your home to an animal in need this summer, please get in touch with us. By doing so you’re not just helping an animal that deserves a second chance, but you’re allowing us to be able to help more animals in our Centres.”
Of the nearly 30,000 animals that came through SPCA’s doors in the last year, more than 13,500 spent time in foster care. Fostering costs are covered, with SPCA paying for all food, bedding, toys, veterinary care and medicine if needed. All fosterers need is some time each day to spend with the animals in their care, and ideally a spare room and some flexibility with their schedule.
“We know times are tough for so many people and families at the moment with the increased cost of living, and because of this, there will be people who might have thought about adopting a pet and are no longer able to. We’ve certainly seen a slow-down in adoptions this year, but we hope those who aren’t able to commit long-term to having a pet might consider fostering instead. Not only is it a fantastic way to help animals in need, but you get all the benefits of having a pet in your home without the financial commitment as SPCA pays for everything.”
People who’re interested in fostering an animal over the summer period can sign up via SPCA’s website, or by contacting their local SPCA Centre.