Here’s a fact guaranteed to ruin your day: in May, more than 200 kittens were euthanized in Broward County’s animal shelter because they suffered from serious illnesses or didn’t have homes.
From April to October, thousands of kittens are born. Their mothers often leave them for a few hours to forage, leading people to assume they’ve been abandoned.
“People really think they’re doing a good deed when they find a litter of kittens and bring them to the shelter,” Roz Harris, the founder of Friends of Broward County Animal Care and Adoption, explains. “But often, they get sick in the shelter because they’re not getting the antibodies from their mother’s milk.” A better alternative, she says, is to leave food for the kittens and watch from a distance to see if their mother returns.
Harris is behind the BFF Kitten Kountdown, a fundraiser for groups like HALO Rescue, the Freckles Freedom Fund, and Dr. Donna’s Pet Foundation, who are taking in some of the kittens. Those organizations use the money for food, cat litter, and kitten formula, as well as to spay and neuter kittens brought to the county shelter. So far, Harris has raised $2,715 of her $5,000 goal.
Harris, who is 52 and lives in West Palm Beach, is also hoping that people will foster kittens until they turn eight weeks old and no longer need to be bottle fed every few hours — which the shelter doesn’t have the resources to do.
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“I hate to say it, but if we have 15 kittens that need to be bottle fed, and there are no fosters available, we have no other choice but to euthanize them, because they will die,” Thomas Adair, the director of the Broward County Animal Shelter, says.
The good news is that so far this year, 759 kittens have been given to foster parents and 195 have been adopted. Another 523, however, have been put down.
Based on statistics from past years, the Broward County Animal Shelter will likely take in 1,750 kittens by October. So far, more than 30 kittens have found foster or permanent homes as a direct result of Harris’ campaign.
“I know that seems like a drop in the bucket,” she says. “But the alternative is to not do this, and let many of them not make it.”