Dakin Fosters Open Homes and Hearts to At-Risk Kittens
by Lee Chambers
Kitten season is upon us! Summer is always the busiest time of year at any animal shelter, especially with the arrival of orphaned kittens, usually brought to Dakin by Good Samaritans who find them outside and alone.
For the past six years we have treated many of them in Nick's Nursery, the at-risk kitten intensive care unit at our Springfield location, but COVID-19 safety precautions required us to devise an innovative, alternative plan. Because the nursery's tight physical space makes social distancing impossible, we are now placing many of these tiny, sick kittens into the very capable hands of a dedicated team of foster caregivers who will bottle feed, clean, medicate, socialize and treat them in their homes until they are ready for adoption.
In recognition of the important role fosters play in the lives of these animals, Dakin has a new division of our current foster program coming soon that will be dedicated to kittens named the Kitten Support Squad (KSS). The plan will be to categorize KSS foster members as Basic, Core or Advanced, based on their skill level in caring for these at-risk kittens, to ensure that each kitten is placed with a foster who can provide the care required. Advanced fosters can volunteer to teach Basic and Core members of KSS how to upgrade their skill set.
Dakin will provide a fully-stocked kitten supply kit to help fosters care for their patients, and instead of bringing kittens into the Dakin building, our veterinary team will conduct telemedicine meetings online to address any medical concerns.
According to Dakin's Technician Supervisor Mary Jane McGuire, the closing of the nursery hasn't compromised the level of care kittens are receiving. “The nursery is still happening, it's just happening in foster homes,” she states. “That's where kittens get focused attention. They are exposed to more play time, and are around people on an ongoing basis, which helps their development. Being in a home environment is always better for them than being in a shelter, plus our fosters have become very good at finding adopters for the kittens. They've learned how to take great photos, write interesting personality profiles and how to market those kittens when they're ready to move on to a permanent home.”