Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center promotes foster program


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Even with a plan to build a new Iowa City Animal & Adoption Center now in the near future, officials are still calling on the community to help offset anticipated overcrowding.

Center officials visited the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St., on Monday evening to hold an informational meeting about their foster-care program, “Cold Noses, Warm Hearts.” Their hope is to educate community members about the program, which allows an individual to take home an animal to help them become ready for adoption in a home environment instead of a shelter.

“Foster care is essential to any shelter,” said Liz Ford, a foster parent and animal technician at the animal center. “The shelter gets a lot of animals that can not be directly adopted out. If you’re not willing to euthanize them, you need to have a foster system.”

The program has been in place since 2004 and currently has 53 foster families. Jennifer Read, the foster-care coordinator, hopes to eventually have more than 100 foster families available to help, with different skill levels with the animals.

Issues that would cause the animals to not be ready to be adopted include being too young, having medical issues that cannot be given attention at a shelter, and overcrowding.

Plans with the new animal shelter are moving forward. The Iowa City City Council passed a resolution Feb. 19 approving a second phase in the construction of the shelter.

The construction will serve to replace the original shelter, which was heavily damaged by the 2008 flood. The new shelter is set to be ready for use by 2015.

Currently, the temporary shelter houses 80 animals, a greater number than the old shelter. Although the shelter is not overcrowded at present, June and July are the busiest months, and officials are preparing for the upcoming overcrowding.

Ford said although the foster care helps with the overcrowding at the shelter, it is more helpful to have a strong adoption program.

“Shelters have a capacity, and they have to work within that capacity,” Ford said. “You can’t have [all the animals] go to foster families. The most important thing to focus on is having a really good adoption program to start to help overcrowding.”

The shelter is operating in a temporary location at 4852 Sand Road.

Roughly half a dozen people interested in learning about the foster-care system attended the meeting.

Many of the attendees recently lost a family pet and were not ready to adopt a new animal but still wanted to give back.

“We lost our eldest cat, and I’m not emotionally ready for another cat,” said Iowa City resident Jenni Olson. “But my girls are older, we’ve got the space, and we’re in a good place to be able to foster cats and kittens.”

Shelter officials said the ultimate reward of the program is saving the animals that otherwise would not have survived.

“It’s all about saving lives,” Read said. “If we didn’t have foster families, we wouldn’t be able to save the animals and help adopt them out.”