Last Hope Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Shelter was awarded a $15,000 grant from the Petco Foundation last month to help fund kitten adoptions.
Through its many programs, Last Hope volunteers said that they are attempting to reduce the cat and dog overpopulation problem on Long Island, encourage responsible and affordable pet ownership and transform the public image of the typical pound animal. The group has a dog and cat adoption center on Beltagh Avenue in Wantagh, and Outreach Coordinator Joanne Anderson noted that many of their volunteers hail from the Wantagh-Seaford area.
The grant will allow kittens that might have otherwise been euthanized to be transported to the Last Hope Cat Adoption Center/ Most of the kittens taken in by Last Hope are offspring of feral cats that have not received veterinary services or socialization until rescued off the streets of Long Island, officials noted.
The grant will help cover the cost of testing for FELV/FIV, FVRCP, de-worming and rabies vaccines, spaying/neutering and flea and ear mite treatment. The balance is for kenneling, food, litter and veterinarian fees, which are partially funded by adoption fees, donations and fundraisers.
“Despite our efforts, last year we were still overwhelmed with calls and emails from the public asking for help with kittens ‘showing up in the yard,’” said Linda Stuurman, president of Last Hope. “We try to help as many as possible by placing kittens in our volunteer foster homes or by teaching residents how to foster kittens at their homes while we get the kittens ready to come to the adoption center.”
Last Hope and other rescues and municipal shelters in Nassau and Suffolk counties are actively involved in TNR — or trap, neuter, return — programs. Last Hope issues low cost vouchers to assist residents with those costs.
“It is imperative the rescue organization or shelter spay/neuters every kitten or cat before adoption,” Outreach Coordinator Joanne Anderson said. “A rescue organization or shelter should never be adding to pet overpopulation.
Last Hope also sponsors six to eight free spay/neuter clinics during the colder months. In early 2016, Last Hope initiated a proactive program to decrease the number of kittens born in the spring by offering residents free vouchers to spay/neuter and vaccinate ferals from Feb. 15 through May 1 at three participating veterinarians. The organization gave out 488 free vouchers in 2016 and has already issued 350 this year.
“We also teach residents how to trap and spay the mother to prevent more litters,” Stuurman added. “Last Hope found homes for 499 cats in 2016 and over 300 of these placements were for kittens. Many more cats remain in our foster homes and at our adoption center.”
Last Hope continues to participate in “adopt-a-thons,” offering lower fees as adoption incentives and plans to use the grant from the Petco Foundation to accept 80 to 100 additional kittens. The shelter’s goal is to place more than 600 cats and kittens in loving and responsible homes this year.
“With the Foundation helping Last Hope financially, the Petco family is helping us to get kittens ready for homes as well as giving us prime space to showcase our kittens and cats,” Anderson added. “It's tragic to return a friendly cat to a feral colony when that cat could be a cherished pet in a comfortable home.”