Annual Report 2019 for Winnebago County Animal Services

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2019 ANNUAL REPORT

www.wcasrock.org


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Letter from the Administrator

Our goal at WCAS is to provide excellent care to animals in need and to provide professional service

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to the residents of Winnebago County and all visitors. BRETT J. FRAZIER Administrator

Thank you for your interest in Winnebago County Animal Services and for picking up our 2019 Annual report! We are a busy department. WCAS is tasked with a number of different state statute and local ordinance responsibilities, including managing rabies vaccination and registration compliance for cats and dogs, investigating animal welfare and animal cruelty, maintaining public safety as it relates to animals, and impounding stray animals in an effort to control pet population and reunite lost pets with their families. We investigate hundreds of bites each year, and we work hard to find positive outcomes for pets and people every day. In 2019, our team took in 4,612 animals in need of our services, which included 2,143 cats and 1,861 dogs, improving positive outcomes for those pets dramatically. If you’re thinking that sounds like a lot of furry faces, you’re right and last year positive outcomes for those pets improved dramatically! With 2,110 adoptions in 2019, we experienced a 34% increase in adoptions over 2018. We took in essentially the same number of cats and dogs in 2019 as in 2018, but euthanasia plummeted 50.5% for cats and 37.4% for dogs. That’s so many more lives saved. Plus, every pet adopted from WCAS goes home spayed or neutered, fully vaccinated and fully vetted, and with a microchip and registration tag in case they ever get lost. Saving more lives also meant we needed to think about creating more pathways to positive outcomes, especially for cats. For years, this department placed cats up for adoption via the PetSmart in Machesney Park. Last year, we expanded this program to feature cats and kittens seven days a week at five PetSmart locations in Illinois and Wisconsin. As a result, total cat adoptions grew by 355 cats/kittens in 2019. PetSmart locations in 2019 accounted for 446 total cat and kitten adoptions! Last year we also made dramatic improvements in the kennels and veterinary operations at WCAS. New double-sided kennels in our large dog room and modern veterinary equipment and instruments now allow us to do our work more efficiently, providing better care to thousands of animals in need. These improvements would not have been possible without the support of the Winnebago County Board and the Animal Services Auxiliary, which both contributed funding for these projects. Our goal at WCAS is to provide excellent care to animals in need and to provide professional service to the residents of Winnebago County and all visitors to our shelter. Sometimes our work goes in so many different directions and each case can become so complicated that it’s important to remember how simple our mission really is. We’re here to help and to protect. This Annual Report is intended to share the stories that made up 2019 at WCAS. As you read through the pages of this report, I hope you will be both proud and impressed at the work done and the lives touched at WCAS in 2019. We are so honored to be of service.

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In 2019 we were able to help 2,110 homeless pets find their way into a new home, we helped reunite 763 lost pets with their families and our live release rate for cats and dogs improved from 69.28% in 2018 to 84.03% in 2019. That’s making a difference.

Our goal is to provide excellent care to animals in need and professional services to the residents of Winnebago County. In 2019 we made big changes in pursuit of those goals, and we’re proud of our progress. We have more to do, and this focus will continue to drive our services, day-to-day operations and long term direction.


INTAKE: By the Numbers Animal sheltering can be challenging. Each year thousands of animals come through our doors in need of food, water, shelter and care. At Winnebago County Animal Services, we adapt our services to meet the needs of our community and its animals in need. Our annual intake of over 4,600 animals is made up primarily of lost and homeless pets, the vast majority of which are either cats or dogs.

2019 75 Confiscate/ Protective Care

2018

2017

9

71

15

47

32

Euthanasia Request

Confiscate/ Protective Care

Euthanasia Request

Confiscate/ Protective Care

Euthanasia Request

116 Other

374 382 CAT

Owner Release

325

Owner Release

2019

2,143

2,026

TOTAL

204

2017

2,562

TOTAL

TOTAL

1,561

1,566

2,158

Strays

Strays

Strays

2019 Confiscate/ Protective Care

Owner Release

2018

2018

2017

32

224

34

253

38

Euthanasia Request

Confiscate/ Protective Care

Euthanasia Request

Confiscate/ Protective Care

Euthanasia Request

23 Other

441 DOG

Owner Release

2019

425

1,861

Owner Release

TOTAL

2,143 Cats

TOTAL

2017

1,958 TOTAL

1,052

1,206

Strays

Strays

Strays

2018 159

2017 303

538

Other

Wildlife

TOTAL ANIMAL INTAKE

461 Owner Release

1,161

2019 449

2018

1,755

138

831

Other

Wildlife

Other

Wildlife

2019

2018

2017

4,612

4,622

5,489

TOTAL

TOTAL

2,562

2,026

TOTAL

Cats

Cats

1,861

1,755

1,958

Dogs

Dogs

Dogs

“Every day at the shelter we have an opportunity to change lives just by doing our jobs and providing care and compassion to pets and people in need.”

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OUTCOME: By the Numbers Over the past year, we have made great progress in our adoption numbers. By implementing policies such as “open selection”, which allows animals to be chosen for adoption during stray period with adoptions completed if an owner does not come forward to reclaim, we are giving the pets who come to us a chance to spend as few days as possible in the shelter before going home. Last year hundreds more pets went home through adoption than in 2018 and much of that is due to a shift in thinking—namely, that our job is to help pets go from lost to found and into a safe and loving home as efficiently as we can.

Adoption - Year Comparison 2018

2019

2017

1,211

107

844

152

634

84

Cats

Other

Cats

Other

Cats

Other

2019

2018

2017

2,110

1,573

1,289

TOTAL

TOTAL

TOTAL

792

577

571

Dogs

Dogs

Dogs

Return to Owner - Year Comparison 2018

2019

2017

83

6

58

5

85

16

Cats

Other

Cats

Other

Cats

Other

2019

2018

2017

763

706

778

TOTAL

TOTAL

TOTAL

674

643

677

Dogs

Dogs

Dogs

Euthanasia - Year Comparison 2018

2019 277

312

38

Wildlife

125

Wildlife

Other

Other

2019

926

223 Dogs

TOTAL

2018

2017 17

474

Other

Wildlife

2017

1,577

356

2,476

TOTAL

Dogs

TOTAL

446 Dogs

388

784

1,539

Cats

Cats

Cats

2019 ANNUAL REPORT • 5


Animal Services in Action Animal Services officers cover more than 520 square miles of territory each and every day of the year. This group of seven officers responded to thousands of calls for service in Winnebago County’s 520 square miles plus the Loves Park portion of Boone County. More than 66% of total calls for service come from the City of Rockford, but Animal Services officers also cover all other municipalities and the unincorporated areas in the County. That’s a lot of calls. Animal Services plays a vital role in the community. Officers respond to animal complaints that include enforcing of local ordinances and state statutes, conducting bite investigations, welfare checks and investigations, and ensuring rabies vaccination and registration compliance.

SERVING 11 Municipalities

RESPONDING TO

9,040 ACTIVITY CALLS

ACROSS 520 SQUARE MILES

HELPING 285k+ People

Alligator Rescue Count: 1 Sometimes WCAS is also called by the local police and fire departments to assist in animal related calls. In September 2019, the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department reached out for WCAS for something that wasn’t your everyday assist—an American Alligator was found in Machesney Park! Thankfully, this toothy visitor was quickly and easily transferred to a Chicago area reptile rescue without issue. Alligators are not allowed as pets in Winnebago County, and though this was our first alligator rescue in 2019, it was not our first ever. We have had quite a lot of experience in this area. Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction!

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Field Service Activity Calls by Municipality Animal Services officers work on a wide variety of call types. The most frequent are for a stray domestic animal. Our officers were dispatched to pursue a stray pet nearly 3,000 times in 2019. Officers also are very often dispatched to conduct some type of investigation. This could be checking on welfare, taking a bite report or some other type of emergency investigation, or checking up on a report of an animal running at large or a barking dog. It might be easy to think that these calls would become routine, but each call is different because each situation is unique. Still, most often the calls are quickly handled and officers move onto the next call for service. It’s easy to forget how many challenging situations officers may encounter. In February, for example, an officer responded to a report of a dog having died in an outdoor kennel after days of near-record low temperatures. Officers investigated and the owner was charged with felony aggravated animal cruelty as well as two additional charges. Bite investigations are common, with more than 1,300 dispatched calls in 2019 alone. In May, an officer responded to a report that a dog had bitten its owner. When the officer arrived to investigate, the owner

Activity Calls by Municipality - 2019 Municipality Rockford County Machesney Park Loves Park South Beloit Roscoe Rockton Cherry Valley Winnebago Durand Pecatonica New Milford Total

2019 5,831 1,414 625 533 169 152 136 60 42 32 28 18 9,040

was being viciously attacked by three dogs at the residence. Our officer used pepper spray and his baton to free the man, who had been severely bitten on his arms, legs, torso and face. The officer was able to get the owner out of the house and out of harm’s way. The victim credited our officer with saving his life. From investigating bite and welfare to investigating animals left in vehicles or assisting injured wild and domesticated animals, the work of our Animal Services officers is far from easy.

Activity Call Types: Year Comparison 2017

2018

2019

5,000 4,000 3,000 2,000 1,000 0 Stray Domestic Animal

Wild Animal

Carcass Removal

Bite Welfare Investigation Investigation

Barking Investigation

Other

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MEET OUR STARS: TV & Radio Appearances Help Promote Adoption Kathleen Cohen- WQRF-TV

In 2019, a total of 2,110 pets were adopted from WCAS. This outstanding number could not have been reached without the promotion our adoptable pets receive courtesy of our three partner TV networks—WREX, WIFR, and WQRF—and radio station Q98.5. In September 2019, a cat was featured on WREX-TV during the noon news and by 2pm she was adopted by a viewer! Her life changed in a matter of a couple of hours thanks to this amazing partnership. Shannon Zimmerman of Q98.5 said, "Wednesdays are my favorite day of the week. I love that we get to play a part in a pet's ‘happily ever after’ by featuring a new, adoptable animal on the radio each week!" Being able to feature our animals on several media outlets keeps WCAS out in the community in a positive way. It’s an especially helpful platform to show off a pet who has a unique story. We—and our furry friends—are very grateful for the support we receive! Brett Brooks- WQRF-TV Mariana Rodriguez- WQRF-TV

“The Pet of the Week segment is one of the most popular segments. When Donna and her friends aren’t there, we literally get calls and emails wondering what happened,” says WIFR-23’s Andy Gannon. “It has proven to be an effective segment, and many pets featured during our 23 Morning Blend have Shannon Zimmerman- Q98.5

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found homes.” www.wcasrock.org


Bringing Linguini and other lost pets home Losing a pet is a traumatic experience, but Winnebago County Animal Services is here to help. Take Linguini for example. Linguini the cat came to WCAS in September 2019 as a stray. His extremely friendly demeanor and excellent ‘lap cat’ qualities made him the perfect fit for a visit to Q98.5. Linguini made himself right at home at the radio station. In a testament to the power of social media, once Linguini’s photo was posted on the WCAS Facebook page, it wasn’t long before his missing family saw the post and came to the shelter to reclaim him! Turns out, Linguini’s real name was Jackson and he had been missing for two years! What a reunion this was! Jackson is now Linguini

microchipped and neutered, and, most importantly, home with his loving family again!

WHAT TO DO IF YOU LOSE YOUR PET Check the immediate area

Visit your local shelter in

If your pet is microchipped,

Complete a lost pet

around your home: under

person within 24 hours.

immediately report your

report, attach pet photos

decks and bushes, in

Bring a photo of your pet

lost pet with the microchip

and submit to WCAS and other area shelters.

neighbors’ yards or

and be sure the front desk

company and make sure

garages. Pets can hide in

staff has your current

that they have your current

the smallest of places.

home address, phone

contact information on file.

number, and email address.

Regularly view online listings at WCAS and other area shelters. If you see a description that even vaguely fits your animal, come and look in person. You are the best person to identify your lost pet.

More ideas to speed reunions: • Post your lost animal on your Facebook page and on Facebook pages dedicated to helping find pets, such as Lost Dogs of Illinois, Lost Dogs of Wisconsin, and Lost Cats of Illinois. The Lost Dogs of Illinois website also offers a “Lost Dog Action Plan” and “Five Things to Do” in several different languages on its website. • View the Found Animals binders in the WCAS front office. • Visit every day to view the stray area. • Contact local veterinarians. • Visit other area animal shelters and contact other rescue groups. • Create a flyer and go door-to-door. Give a copy to the person who delivers your mail. • Place a lost pet ad in the local paper and online at sites like petharbor.com and petfinder.com. • Post a lost pet report with helpinglostpets.com/LDIL.


New Veterinary & Surgical Equipment

Translates into Better Care In 2019, Winnebago County Animal Services’ growing veterinary department was in dire need of updated surgical equipment to continue to perform (and expand) its life-saving work. With only enough surgical instruments to complete six sterilization surgeries a day, the team faced a daily bottleneck. In 2019, the surgical team performed nearly 600 more procedures than in 2018, with 1,794 spay/neuter surgeries performed in 2019. Because every adoptable animal at Animal Services leaves having been

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spayed or neutered, when the shelter was unable to meet surgical demand animals had an unnecessarily long length of stay while they waited for surgery. This led to an increase in daily population, which in turn led to additional expenses, increases in shelter illness and other problems. Thankfully, we were able to make a huge improvement in 2019. In October, we purchased and installed new equipment and instruments and immediately increased surgical capacity, dramatically improving efficiency. We are now able to keep pace with daily animal intake and outcomes. This project was funded jointly by the Winnebago County Board, which made $50,000 available for the project, and the WCAS

We look forward to sharing more results made possible by this upgrade in the future!

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Auxiliary, which matched that amount and funded the remaining $50,000 of this $100,000 project.

The new veterinary equipment allows us to provide higher quality medical care to the animals at WCAS, and makes us much more efficient within the surgery department. That means we can alter and treat more animals each day and maximize our life saving capacity.

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• Dr. Bridget Holck •

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VETERINARY OPERATIONS At Winnebago County Animal Services, we are dedicated to providing animals with the best care we can while they are with us. We continue to implement new ways to closely monitor each animal’s physical and behavioral health and improve the health of our animal population as a whole. Every WCAS animal is vaccinated and provided dewormers and flea preventative to protect our population from common infectious diseases and offer healthier, happier animals for adoption in our community. We constantly work to find new ways to move animals efficiently through our temporary shelter system and towards adoption or transfer to rescue. In the WCAS surgery department, we are excited to continue to improve upon our surgical efficiency to provide the best surgical care to animals in need. All animals who are adopted from WCAS are spayed/neutered prior to adoption. We also perform specialty surgeries, such as amputation, enucleation, mass removal, cystotomy, wound repair, and/or hernia repair.

2019 Spay/Neuter Surgeries - Monthly Surgery Trend 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

Cat Spay Cat Neuter Dog Spay Dog Neuter

Jan.

Feb.

March

April

May

June

July

Aug

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

Dec.

Spay/Neuter Surgeries: Year Comparison 600 500 400 300 Dog 200 Cat 100 00 Spay

Neuter 2016

Spay

Neuter 2017

Neuter

Spay 2018

Neuter

Spay 2019

2019 ANNUAL REPORT • 11


MAKING A DIFFERENCE In 2019, Winnebago County Animal Services worked with 42 local and regional licensed rescue and humane societies to place 430 animals. We work with these partners to transfer adoptable animals and provide extra medical attention and behavioral modification training. Our rescue partners see potential in otherwise dire situations, and we are grateful for their ongoing support. Working together, we can do so much more! WCAS Intake Photo

LACEY’S STORY Lacey was a 4-year-old, owner-surrendered Shih Tzu. Her owner said that she was aggressive with both people and dogs. When she arrived at WCAS, her fur was so tangled and matted she had to be entirely shaved. Thankfully, Bishop’s Small Dog Rescue out of Wyanet, IL, gave her a second chance. Once at the rescue, her behavior improved. Bishop’s found that her nipping was most likely due to pain—they discovered she had glaucoma, was blind in her left eye, and was experiencing extreme pressure. Today, Lacey is feeling better and doing wonderfully thanks to the rescue seeing her possibilities! Happy at Bishop’s Small Dog Rescue

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WORKING TOGETHER The WCAS Auxiliary is a non-for-profit group of animal concerned citizens that work towards making a difference for the animals while under the care of WCAS. This group is comprised of volunteers within the community and is a truly vital component to our mission, as their mission is to assist in adoption opportunities, provide funding for animals that need medical assistance, socialize our shelter animals, raise public awareness of responsible owners, and to provide education of the importance of spaying and neutering your pet

C.A.R.E for P.E.T.S. (CFP) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide community engagement services to support the health, safety, and retention of Winnebago County families’ pets, ultimately decreasing the number of pets entering into and housed at WCAS. This is accomplished through various initiatives such as microchipping, spay/neuter efforts, reclamation fee assistance, diversion, and community Pet Health Fairs. CFP is dedicated to collaborative multiorganizational partnerships to accomplish the task of service to the families and their pets in Winnebago County.

Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary is a nonprofit organization whose vision is to secure a safe environment for all companion animals, as they envision a world where all people and their pets live healthy, happy, and long lives together. Noah’s Ark was founded and incorporated by a small group of residents from Rockford, IL, on April 30, 1978. There have been over 20,000 animals that have come through Noah’s Ark’s doors. Each year hundreds of animals come to Noah’s Ark in need of a warm bed, a good meal, and most importantly, a forever home.

PAWS Humane Society of Rockford, IL, is a volunteer organization supported by donations that was founded in 1988 as a spay/neuter assistance operation. Since then, it has grown into a full-service humane society. The PAWS mission is to promote, support, and provide for the humane treatment and welfare of animals in Winnebago County and the surrounding areas.

Mending Hearts Rescue is a not-for-profit animal organization dedicated to finding permanent homes for homeless animals through a foster-based network of volunteers. Established in June 2014, it is volunteer run and relies strictly on donations.

Kadlec Ranch Rescue is a nonprofit, all-cat rescue located in Janesville, WI. Created in 2007, it is designed for the sick, injured, abandoned, and/or orphaned. Its goal is to help as many animals in need in Rock County, Wisconsin, and the surrounding area. The Ranch runs solely on donations from cat/kitten adoptions, monetary and supply donations, and fundraisers.

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BRAND NEW DIGS: Check Out Our Renovated Kennels! In June of 2019, WCAS embarked on a much needed kennel renovation project to improve the larger canine kennel area at the shelter, providing our pups with more space to eat, sleep, and play while awaiting adoption. The previous cages, which were decades old, were small, single-sided, three-feet-high structures, which sometimes contributed to stress for larger dogs. Now, efficient double-sided kennels allow for more space plus improved safety for animals, staff, and volunteers. Despite implementing larger kennels, efficient design allowed for capacity to remain the same at 60 total individual kennels. Double-sided with transfer doors, the kennels allow dogs to go back and forth between sides, making clean up and care that much easier. A win-win for all.

“We want the dogs to be comfortable in the cage, as they might spend a good deal of time there,” said Donna Apgar, Adoption Coordinator. “The new kennels provide more room to move and allows greater separation between food and sleeping areas, etc.” 14 • 2019 ANNUAL REPORT

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DUKE’S STORY Duke is an excellent example of how WCAS works to provide the best care to every individual animal that comes into our care, from initial intake until they find their forever home. A good samaritan found an injured 8-week old boxer puppy by the

immediately for him to have a chance at survival. The puppy did well

side of the road. Concerned that he had possibly been hit by a car,

through his amputation and the surgery was a success thanks to

they called WCAS to come pick him up.

WCAS’ skilled veterinary team; he was walking around on his three

Animal Control Officer Nicki Stout received the call- “I didn’t know

legs within hours of waking up from anesthesia.

the extent of the puppy’s injuries, so I rushed to the scene where I

Duke was fostered by Adrianna Hansen, a WCAS staff member, in

met with the lady who stated that she had found this puppy on the

order to ensure he was closely monitored. He remained in foster

side of the road on her way home. I scooped him up in my arms,

care for several weeks while on pain medications and antibiotics. “I

wrapped him in a towel, and rushed him back to the shelter where I

chose to foster because animals heal faster in a home” says

knew he could get the medical attention he needed. I honestly didn’t

Adrianna. “And being a puppy, I wanted him to meet other animals

think he was going to make it driving him back to the shelter.”

and people as he was growing and healing because I knew

The puppy’s right hind leg was badly injured with broken bones,

socialization and positive opportunities are important for puppies.”

infection, and bones and muscles exposed. While the puppy was a

Once recovered from his amputation surgery, he was neutered and

poor anesthetic risk due to his age and condition, the WCAS

quickly found a new home. We love happy endings, don’t you?

veterinary staff determined that his leg needed to be removed

2019 ANNUAL REPORT • 15


PETSMART + WCAS PARTNERSHIP Winnebago County Animal Services is privileged to partner with five PetSmart locations across Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin through the PetSmart Charities In-Store Adoption Program. This life-saving program is designed to increase the pet adoption rate and optimize pet adoption awareness within the community. The off-site adoption centers at PetSmart are an excellent way to showcase cats and kitten outside the shelter. The

WISCONSIN

• • •JANESVILLE MACHESNEY PARK •• BROOKFIELD GREENFIELD

ROCKFORD

ILLINOIS

PetSmart Adoption Centers help us reach new adopters for the thousands of cats and kittens we take in each year. Thank you, PetSmart, for being such a wonderful partner in saving lives and finding forever homes!

16 • 2019 ANNUAL REPORT

PETSMART PARTNER LOCATIONS Rockford, IL • Machesney Park Il Janesville, WI • Brookfield, WI Greenfield, WI

www.wcasrock.org


TOTAL PETSMART ADOPTIONS

446 MACHESNEY PARK: 142 E.STATE: 42 JANESVILLE: 55 GREENFIELD: 116 BROOKFIELD: 91

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Working with our PetSmart partners on transport and enrichment for our kitties has been very rewarding. I’ve seen many frightened cats receive enrichment at our five PetSmart partner locations and come right out of their shell. The locations offer great community exposure, and for many cats, this means finally finding their forever home. It is a great feeling!

One of my most memorable adoptions was when I brought Milkshake to our E. State Street location. There was a large family there. They were surprising their daughter on her 12th birthday, allowing her to pick her first kitty to take home. When they saw the carrier and looked inside, they asked me not to put the kitty in a cage but rather allow their daughter to hold it. Milkshake was a star and loved all over her. They asked her if she would like to keep the kitty and she replied yes, but I can’t have a cat. Mom said, ‘Guess what, now that you’re 12 and older you can have this kitty.’ This sweet birthday girl couldn’t stop crying. Milkshake never ever made it into a cage … he found his fur-ever family! That is what makes all of our dedicated volunteers’ time so meaningful.

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–Carol Rogers, PetSmart Lead Volunteer

14 1 |PETSGOHOME.ORG

2015 -2016 www.wcasrock.org ANNUAL REPORT


CONGRATULATIONS You’ve Been Adopted


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We sat down with one of our go-to fosters, Betsy Johnson, to chat about her experience as a WCAS foster…

Amazing endings begin with outstanding care. A solid foster network allows Winnebago County Animal Services to care for hundreds more disadvantaged pets than would otherwise be possible. In 2019, more than 35 foster families helped foster over 220 pets. These pets included nursing moms with kittens too small for adoption, heartworm-positive animals, and pets with injuries or other medical conditions. Fosters are amazing heroes within the animal welfare community; they pour their love, compassion, and care into pets who are seemingly in their eleventh-hour, and, in so many instances, get these deserving animals to a place where they are ready for adoption.

In 2019, more than 35 foster families helped foster over 220 pets.

Saving lives is one of the reasons that I enjoy fostering for WCAS. Though caring for sick kittens can be very stressful, the reward of helping them leaves you with such a tremendous sense of accomplishment and happiness. It’s also nice to know that when you take in fosters, you’re saving lives even when they are completely healthy. You’re providing a home for the cats/kittens that you take in, and also freeing up space at the shelter for others. Obviously, one benefit of fostering is always being able to play with kittens! But you also know that holding kittens and playing with them is making them grow into loving, friendly cats that will be more easily adoptable is wonderful. It’s always hard to say goodbye to the kittens because they are so amazing, and you can’t help but fall in love with them. Knowing that they will find loving families and that you were a part of that is beyond words. One additional side benefit of fostering is knowing the difference that your time and money make. Before fostering, I tried to donate to organizations that supported animals. But there was always concern about how the money might go to administrative costs or might be mishandled and not actually help animals. When you foster and you spend your money buying food, litter, or other supplies to care for the cats and kittens, you have a direct impact, helping save lives and help animals.

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FANTASTIC FOSTERS

One of my favorite foster memories initially seems like a strange favorite memory as it involves a very sick kitten. One of my first litters involved a kitten who had an upper respiratory infection and severe eye infections. This little girl, Clarise, had infections in both eyes that caused her eyes to be almost completely closed shut, as the inner eyelids were so swollen. After a couple of weeks of antibiotics and eye ointment, Clarise made a full recovery and grew into a happy, healthy kitten. The reason this is one of my favorite memories is because I realized how I could be a part of helping a kitten survive against terrible odds and who would be able to go on to live a full, happy life. To realize how you can make such a difference in saving a life makes you understand the importance of fostering. It isn’t just playing with kittens and providing them a place to stay, it’s much more.

When I think back on all of the lives that I have helped to save and provide that initial dose of love and affection over the past nine years, I can't help but feel a sense of pride and joy. I choose WCAS as the place to foster because I know that this organization does everything that it can to help all animals regardless of their situation, often without the gratitude that they deserve. I have nothing but respect for the selfless effort and love that all of the staff show for the animals they serve. I am proud to be even a small part of that mission.

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4517 N Main St, Rockford, IL 61103 (815) 319-4100 www.wcasrock.org