KANAB — A mission to save the lives of about 100 orphaned kittens from overwhelmed Texas shelters was deemed a success when an RV equipped with supplies and an expert animal care team of staff and volunteers from Best Friends Animal Society returned to Kanab shortly before midnight Thursday.
According to a press release from Best Friends, the Texas team drove and slept in shifts for nearly 40 hours to provide the round-the-clock care necessary to save the newborn kittens. Orphaned kittens have very low survival rates in animal shelters because they are highly susceptible to disease and also require formula feedings every two to three hours since they are without their mothers. Many animal shelters simply do not have the capability or resources to provide the necessary care.
In Texas, two cats or kittens are killed for every dog in municipal shelters – approximately 1,000 felines per day – making Texas the second highest state for shelter deaths behind California. To increase lifesaving throughout Texas, Best Friends is working with animal shelters across the state to implement lifesaving programming and transports.
Amy Kohlbecker, director of Cat World – Best Friends Animal Society, said she saw a post from Palm Valley Animal Society in Edinburg, Texas, in which they were seeking help because they were overrun with tiny orphaned kittens who had to be bottle fed.
“If felt like a flashback to when Best Friends sent me to Houston to help a partnering shelter, and I saw one of the veterinarians have to kill neonatal kittens because they just did not have the resources or community support to properly care for these little ones,” Kohlbecker said in the press release. “I already had 18 kittens in my apartment I was caring for, so I couldn’t help and there was no one else at the shelter who was in a position to help.”
Kohlbecker said when she saw the post from Palm Valley Animal Society, she reached out to Carrie Lalonde, Best Friends’ current manager of lifesaving programs in Houston.
“I wanted to see if there was any way we could find to get these neonatal kittens to us in Utah. While brainstorming, we stumbled onto the idea of an RV and Carrie made it happen. None of this would have been possible without Carrie’s ingenuity. Because of her and her dedicated team, about 100 kittens who did not have a future now will become beloved pets.”
Kohlbecker called the trip to Texas and back a “really moving experience.”
“It took so many people, so many man hours. Everyone stepped up to help these fragile animals and the shelters that pleaded for help,” she said. “It’s been exhausting but incredibly moving. We left at 3 a.m. this morning and some of us were back at 7 a.m. to feed again and haven’t left. Our veterinary technician Heather Purdy has been a rockstar. We had two critical carriers of kittens that had to be seen immediately and Heather had everything completely prepped and got to work the minute the kittens arrived.”
Kohlbecker said that only one of the animals had to be euthanized due to a birth defect: “a very severe heart murmur along with a few other issues.”
“But the rest are doing well. We sent 49 of the kittens to our lifesaving center in Salt Lake City where foster homes are being found. Now we need foster homes for the litters of kittens that are still here at the Sanctuary.”
Kohlbecker said anyone who is interested in fostering one of the kittens but is concerned about caring for a neonatal kitten shouldn’t be worried.
“We will walk you through it and get you the resources you need,” she said. “I’m not going to lie, you will lose some sleep and it is work but it is so rewarding to watch these kittens get strong and thrive. Knowing you played a vital lifesaving role in getting them ready for adoption is so rewarding.”
To learn more about fostering an animal through Best Friends, visit their website.
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