Tis’ the season for kitten season! Northeast Florida is experiencing quite the influx of baby kittens, and it doesn’t look like it will be stopping anytime soon. Fostering is a concept that is growing in popularity and with good reason. Fostering saves lives. The folks at Animal Care and Protective Services (ACPS), the Jacksonville, FL municipal shelter, are doing a stellar job in recruiting foster homes, and they’re doing it through social media, Facebook to be exact.

Recruiting is Powerful

Underage and sick kittens are very susceptible to illness and disease when at a humane society due to all of the other animals coming and going. Their immune systems are not capable of fighting off infection and other sicknesses. It is extremely critical that the young felines get out of the shelter environment ASAP. Two Facebook pages have been created to recruit foster families and announce new arrivals of kittens needing to go out for foster.

The ACPS Foster Communication Page works like a well-oiled machine. As kittens come in they get posted (sometimes with a picture, sometimes not) and a foster home is requested based on the need of the cat. Some kittens are underweight, underage, eating mush, bottle babies, hissy (meaning they need socialization), or on medication for varying infection or illness. URGENT requests go out when the shelter is desperate, and the little felines MUST go out today. I am a part of that Facebook Page, and it is magic watching people respond and then view the foster coordinator post an update that the babies “Have Gone Out to Foster.” It just makes me smile that so many people are willing to open their homes and give back. The Communication Page is bubbling with activity all day long as new arrivals appear and new foster families step up to help. I have been in the animal welfare field for some years, and I have never seen anything like the recruitment and follow through in taking kittens in and sending them back out of the shelter within a day’s turnaround. What a way to successfully use social media to make a difference in saving lives. Simply amazing. Kudos to the folks at ACPS for working together to make a difference, you are working tirelessly, and it shows.

The ACPS Kitten Army Page is a private page for approved foster parents to post updates of their current foster babies and ask questions that arise during the foster process. The page also serves to recruit new foster parents.

If you are interested in fostering, please visit the Facebook Pages and request to join. Also, you can reach out directly to acpsfosters@coj.net. You must

be an approved foster before taking a litter or single kitten home. Don’t worry; they are quick to approve, and you can have kittens in your home within a day or a few hours depending on the need. If you have ever thought of fostering, now is the time. What a rewarding way to be of service and give back.

(This article was originally printed on EXAMINER, which no longer exists, in May 2016)