January 28, 2020
Audience: Executive Leadership, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team
Organization: Maddie's Fund
Investigator(s): Amber Freiwald
Grant Amount: n/a
Project Type: Basic Research
Project Status: Research Complete
In this survey, we examined a stray kitten diversion strategy - specifically programs or actions which ask community members who bring in kittens to care for them until organizational resources are available or until the kittens are old enough to be placed for adoption. Organizations that report being particularly proactive, consistent, and enthusiastic in asking community members to care for stray kittens report greater numbers of community members following through and doing so.
To examine the extent to which organizations are asking community members who bring in kittens to care for them for a relatively short and/or designated period of time, as an alternative to intake.
Data was collected from a convenience sample survey distributed via the Maddie's Fund® list serve. The survey covered three scenarios, the first of which is discussed in this report. It sought out respondents who were administrators, staff members and volunteers of U.S. animal shelters, rescue organizations or municipal animal services, with the request that the survey be completed by only one respondent from each organization. Survey submissions represented a diverse group of organizations that varied both structurally and geographically. These results were not analyzed for statistical significance.
- 78% said their organization is "extremely likely" (47%) or "likely" (31%) to encourage community members to care for kittens until organizational resources are available or they are ready to be placed for adoption.
- Only 16% reported that "most" (1%) or "many" (15%) community members elect to foster the animals until resources are available, as an alternative to immediate intake by the organization; Forty one percent reported that "some" community members elect to provide care, while 43% reported "few" or "very few."
- 62% reported that their organization offers "all or most" medical services, and 56% offer "all or most" supplies to community members caring for kittens free of charge.
- 90% reported that their organization offers training or materials on proper care to community members caring for kittens. o77% of respondents reported their organization provided in-person training; 75% provided mentoring or coaching; 67% provided written materials or handouts; and 43% provided online resources.
- 58% reported that their organization does not require community members to formally enroll in a program to receive services and/or supplies in the care of found kittens.
- Only 19% of cat-only organizations "strongly agree" and 43% "agree" that they are effective in encouraging community members to care for kittens until they are ready for adoption.
The overwhelming majority of respondents strongly agreed that the influx of kittens during peak seasons is problematic. Findings suggest that organizations should: 1) develop more frequent, enthusiastic, and proactive approaches to asking community members to care for stray kittens brought to the organization, as an alternative to surrender/intake, 2) find ways to offer veterinary care and supplies to community members caring for kittens, and 3) offer training, but do not require formal program enrollment for community members who are simply acting as "Good Samaritans."