After winding my way back from the morning volunteer orientation at The Marine Mammal Center, I pick up Ms. Kluender for the short drive to the San Francisco SPCA. We are scheduled for the foster parent orientation that afternoon.
As veterans of foster care for kittens, Ms. Kluender and I have helped close to 100 fur balls over about five years. They came to us when I was working at the Massachusetts SPCA and were afflicted from nearly every malady imaginable including under socialization, extreme illness, severe malnourishment, and contagious diseases. During some months I would have contagious kittens crawling around my office while we cared for older ferals at home.
Our volunteer group, as earlier in the day, spans across race and includes students, teachers, young professionals, and retirees. The most noticeable trait is that I am joined by only one other man in the group of about a dozen future foster parents.
Most of us are here to care for underweight kittens and the occasional puppy, however we are soon told by the orientation leader that there is another group of animals in dire need of help – single feline mothers and their litters.
Alison Lane, the head of the SF SPCA’s foster program leads us through every detail of fostering from whether or not we are suited for the foster parent life, to creating kitten safe spaces and emergency procedures.
Alison’s years of experience in the foster care field shows, statistics are within easy reach and her demeanor brings a much needed light heartedness to each new step including those kittens that regardless of intervention will not thrive – the victims of natural selection and poor genetics. In stark terms, Alison lets the newbies know, “Saving lives is not easy.”
As we wrap up, Alison disappears for a few moments to quickly return with Baby Blue, a tiny foster kitten in need of a few good meals. The group oohs and ahhs over the chirpy bundle of grey fuzz, cameras click away. I never tire of these moments, no matter how many kittens come into our care.
As Ms. Kluender and I discuss a start date for taking home our first foster with Alison her earlier request for assistance ring home.
“The more people we have to help, the more animals we can save.”