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Foster program saves pets’ lives

Eileen JoyceThis kitten, seen here being held on Wednesday by Penn Valley resident Sherri Hansen, is 3 weeks old. Its mother died giving birth.
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Sherri Hansen cradled a 3-week-old kitten in the palm of her hand, feeding it formula from a bottle not much bigger than a cigarette lighter.

The kitten’s mother, Hansen said, died while giving birth.



The kitten and his three brothers and two sisters were put with another mother cat, but eventually ended up at the Nevada County Animal Shelter.




“She had a litter of her own and couldn’t feed them all, so we’ve become their surrogate mothers,” Hansen said. “We make their formula and feed them just like you would babies.”

“And we enjoy every minute of it,” said her husband, Dale, at their home near Lake Wildwood. “The kittens are really no trouble at all.”

Sherri Hansen got involved in the foster adoption program when she volunteered as a cat cuddler at the animal shelter in February.

The program’s goal is to get kittens and puppies out of the shelter and into foster homes where they can be vaccinated, spayed and neutered, and eventually placed in permanent homes, said shelter volunteer Kathleen O’Sullivan.

Pet foster programs, O’Sullivan said, save the lives of kittens and puppies.

“Fostering just one animal for one week can save the life of a cat or dog, and getting them spayed and neutered leads to less euthanasia down the road,” O’Sullivan said. “Fostering buys them a little time until the right person comes along.”

AnimalSave runs a foster adoption program for adult cats and dogs, said coordinator Debra Sandler.

“Eighty percent of the cats and dogs in our program were last-chance animals, meaning they were going to be killed in the next couple of days if we didn’t get them out of the shelter,” she said.

Sandler said most foster animals are adopted within two months. “So it’s not a very long commitment to save the life of a cat or dog,” she said.

AnimalSave provides food, veterinary care and kennels for foster parents.

With the height of kitten and puppy season fast approaching, more people are needed to foster and adopt the slew of unwanted pets sure to end up at western Nevada County shelters, where 735 cats and dogs were euthanized last year.

“Any day now we could be inundated with puppies and kittens,” said county shelter coordinator Cheryl Wicks, who added that the shelter always needs more volunteers to walk dogs and cuddle cats.

— For more information, call O’Sullivan at 274-8005, Sandler at 271-0220 or Wicks at 272-8833.


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