It’s that time of year again — kitten season. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) needs people willing to offer foster care for the young animals.
Because of the possibility the vulnerable animals may contract an illness, AWLA cannot keep kittens under the age of eight weeks in its shelter. Young kittens also cannot regulate their own body heat, eat on their own or go to the bathroom on their own. They must be fed every three to four hours and kept warm. AWLA does not have overnight staff, so it is seeking volunteers who can care for the animals around the clock until they are old enough to be adopted.
AWLA Foster Care Coordinator Sara Emery explained that cats can only go into heat a few times each year and only during warm weather, so March usually brings a spike in births. Kittens typically continue being born and brought to the shelter through November, depending on the weather. Twelve kittens have arrived at the shelter in the last week alone and Emery expects around 60 more throughout the summer.
Anyone can fill out an application to foster a kitten. AWLA staff will then interview candidates and examine the home environment to find a good animal-human fit. There is no cost to the person fostering a kitten; all supplies (including litter boxes and toys) are provided and will be replenished as necessary. The average time commitment is about three to four weeks, but will not be longer than eight weeks.
Those who provide foster care will have the opportunity to adopt the kitten at the end of its stay, or suggest someone who may be able to provide a permanent home.
Anyone interested in becoming a part of the kitten foster program should contact Sara Emery at 703-931-9241, extension 245, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Saturday, 14 local children will celebrate becoming part of “forever families,” during an Arlington ceremony for National Adoption Day.
Nine families will gather at the Arlington County Courthouse tomorrow (November 17) in recognition of their adoptions being finalized this year. All of the children had previously been in foster care.
There are currently about 100 children in foster homes in Arlington, most of them having been removed from their birth parents due to unfit living conditions. Although the goal is to ultimately reunite the children with their birth families once situations improve, that is not always the best option for the safety of the children involved. The children who will not return to their birth families are then cleared for adoption.
Social workers are involved throughout the process to assess the needs of each individual child and to help find a family that is a good match. Nakejah Allen, who is an adoption social worker in Arlington, said it’s a challenge to find the right fit.
“For the kids that are in foster care, there has often been something that has happened to them,” Allen said. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of helping adoptive families to understand the trauma and how that can affect attachment.”
Allen said two other significant challenges include finding homes for children ages 13 and older, and finding parents willing to adopt siblings. Melody Smith and her husband, Christian, adopted a brother and sister who had been in foster care in Arlington, and they’ll be celebrating at tomorrow’s Adoption Day ceremony.
“I’m also from a very large family and the thought of them separating siblings breaks my heart,” Melody said. “We started the process thinking about a single child, but after hearing the stats and information, we felt if we could do that we would go that route.”
The Smiths live in Newport News and were placed with the children via an adoption agency and the help of Arlington’s Department of Human Services. For three months, the couple traveled to Arlington three times a week to meet with the children. The kids finally moved in with the Smiths around Christmas last year, and the adoption became official about a month ago.
“We didn’t even tell them [the kids] the day it became official. My wife came crying to me at work because it became official, but as far as they’re concerned, the day they moved in it was official,” Christian said.
Although Melody and Christian’s children had been removed from their birth parents’ home due to severe neglect, the children’s grandmothers had been loving and nurturing. Melody credits one of the grandmothers with keeping alive their daughter, who was only born with one kidney and it wasn’t fully functioning. The family continues to meet with the grandmothers, as well as the foster family with whom the children had been living prior to the Smiths.
A bill that was introduced by Rep. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) and Sen. Jeffrey McWaters (R-Virginia Beach) inserts a “conscience clause” into the Virginia law concerning private adoption and foster care agencies.
“No private child-placing agency shall be required to consider or consent to any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would conflict with the religious tenets of any sponsor of the agency or other organization or institution with which the child-placing agency is affiliated or associated,” the bill reads. It also says that adoption agencies cannot be held liable for civil damages as a result of denying the placement of a child.
Ebbin says the clause is discriminatory.
“Adoption and foster care agencies that receive state funding should not be allowed to pick prospective parents based on their sexual orientation,” Ebbin said. “Adoption is a public act that goes through state courts, and no government agency should ever engage in discrimination. When placing a child in a permanent home, the only factor we should take into account is what is best for the child.”
Ebbin tried to patron a bill, SB 569, that would have banned discrimination on the basis of “race, religion, national origin, sex, age, family status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity” among adoption and foster care agencies that receive state funds. The bill failed to make it out of a Senate committee.
The conscience clause bills, meanwhile, are advancing. On Friday Gilbert’s bill passed the House by a vote of 71-28, and McWaters’ bill has passed a Senate committee by a vote of 8-7.
Here’s your chance to give a semi-famous animal a good home. Axel, the kitten rescued from an Arlington County fire truck’s engine compartment last month, is ready to be adopted.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington cleaned him up at their Shirlington shelter following the incident. He’s an orange tabby estimated to be about three months old, and has been neutered and vaccinated.
Axel has been hanging out in a foster home with some other kittens, but is now ready to find a permanent residence. Anyone interested in adopting Axel, or any other kitten, can check out the AWLA website for adoption procedures.
The county is holding its own Arlington Adoption Day to celebrate National Adoption Day and Adoption Awareness Month.
On Saturday morning, 11 children ranging in age from 2 to 16 will be legally adopted at the Arlington County Courthouse. The adoption ceremonies will be presided over by Arlington County Circuit Court Judge James F. Almand, with adoptive parents, adoption advocates and social service represents on hand for the joyous moments.
Last year there were 4,800 adoptions finalized nationwide as part of National Adoption Day.
As first reported by Coryn Julien in the blog The Arlington Connection, summer is a tough time to find homes for kittens and cats. Because of spring’s increase in births, there are too few adopters to take in all of the kittens and cats in shelters.
The SPCA of Northern Virginia has noticed the cat problem as well. The organization’s website lists an urgent need for foster homes for cats and kittens. It says while foster homes are always needed, it “is especially critical for cats during kitten season.”
Right now the Animal Welfare League of Arlington is focusing on adult cats who don’t get adopted because so many people are opting for the newborn kittens during the summer. To help alleviate the problem, the AWLA is offering free adoption of any cat at least two years old during the month of July.
In order to cut down on future cat population booms that lead to homeless animals, the AWLA also recommends spaying and neutering pets.
Panel Recommends Building New Schools — An Arlington Public Schools advisory council has come out with a report that recommends new construction to help ease the looming school capacity crisis. The panel recommends building one or two new elementary schools and adding capacity at two existing middle schools. In addition to the construction, they suggest adding as many as 40 classroom trailers. Questions linger as to whether the county has enough debt capacity to follow the building recommendations. [Sun Gazette]
Adopt-a-Cat Month at AWLA — The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (2650 South Arlington Mill Drive) has declared June to be Adopt-a-Cat Month. With the shelter — and other shelters like it – inundated with homeless felines, AWLA is trying to find homes for its “Desperate Housecats” — cats that have been at the shelter more than four months. The adoption of such cats is free through the end of the month. [Animal Welfare League of Arlington]
‘Art Every Day’ at Artisphere — Artisphere (1101 Wilson Blvd) is unveiling two new murals to the public today. The words “Art Every Day” and “Live For Art,” designed by notable local artist Linda Hesh, will appear on two glass panes within Artisphere. The cultural center will also distribute “Art Every Day” decals to visitors, who are then in turn encouraged to photograph the decals in various locales and situations. “Art Every Day” will also appear on food court tabletops at the tourist-laden Pentagon City mall, which should give a boost to Artisphere’s promotional efforts. [TBD]
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington wants you to find some bunny to love this month. February is Adopt-A-Rabbit Month, and the League is trying to find good homes for the 19 rabbits currently residing at the shelter.
Already have a rabbit? The AWLA, located at 2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive, wants you to get him or her a friend.
See the bunnies currently up for adoption here. An adoption representative can be reached at 703-931-9241 x200. The adoption fee for rabbits is $65, which includes the spay or neuter surgery and an appropriate cage
A press release from the AWLA and a Fox 5 Morning News segment featuring some of the League’s rabbits, after the jump.
Pizza Autentica Adds Ballston Location — Crystal City isn’t the only Arlington neighborhood on the radar for fast-growing local chain Pizza Autentica. WBJ’s Missy Frederick reports that Pizza Autentica has signed a lease at 850 North Randolph Street in Ballston.
Arlington Food Blogger Profiled — The Fairfax Times takes a look at Arlington mom Colleen Levine and her natural food and cooking blog, Foodie Tots. A government affairs consultant by trade, Levine has amassed 2,500 Twitter followers by focusing her blog on kid-friendly, healthy cooking. The recipe for spaghetti caprese — part of Levine’s effort to promote “meatless Mondays” — looks especially appetizing.
Oil Spill Dogs Need an Adoptive Family — Arlington’s Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation is trying to find a home for the last three of 12 dogs brought up from Louisiana after the Gulf oil spill. The shihtzu family — Gizmo, Trixie and Rocky — were given away by their former owner after he lost his job as a fisherman as a result of the spill. The story and photos from Fox 5.
It was a tense eight hours for the Arlington-based Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation on Saturday. A van filled with two dozen dogs and four cats was supposed to be en route from the organization’s ranch in Fauquier County, Va. to an adoption event in Seven Corners, but contact with the driver was lost and the van never showed up.
The foundation reported the van stolen and posted a plea for information about its whereabouts on their Facebook page. After eight hours, the van and its driver, a foundation employee who had been on the job for eight months, were finally located at the Vienna, Va. branch of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
“All the dogs and cats were fine,” foundation vice president Paul Blumberg said. “I think the humans were more distraught than the dogs.”
The van’s air conditioning had been on the entire time, preventing a potentially dangerous situation in the summer heat.
It’s still not clear what exactly happened. The employee said she got lost and her cell phone died, NBC4 reported.
Blumberg said he did not have a chance to talk with the employee, but she seemed upset. Since the animals were fine, and since officers did not suspect that the woman was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, police let her go home.
In the organization’s nine years in existence, nothing like this has ever happened, Blumberg said. He said the foundation’s board will discuss the incident and “see if there are any changes that need to be made.”
One such change may be putting a GPS tracking system in each of the organization’s vehicles, Blumberg said.
Despite the incident, the foundation was able to find homes for 49 dogs and cats this weekend.