kitty van

Jess Ford sales manager Dave Blue (in driver’s seat) explains the ins and outs of Animal Foster Care’s new van to the organization’s president, Dianne Gray. Looking on are (in passenger door) Jess salesman Brian Rowland and Earl Gray (right). Not pictured is AFC volunteer driver Mick Verellen.

OKANOGAN - Animal Foster Care has a new van for transporting cats and kittens to partner shelters in hopes of finding the felines homes in more populated areas.

The shelter, 4 Spring Coulee Road, works with the Northwest Organization for Animal Help - also known as NOAH - in Stanwood and other shelters.

A grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals paid for the new van, said Animal Foster Care president Dianne Gray. Volunteers picked up the Ford cargo van Friday from Jess Auto, 707 Okoma Drive.

The local group received $35,700 for the vehicle.

ASPCA has a “northern tier initiative” program, which provides grant funding to qualified non-profit shelters and spay/neuter clinics, tribal authorities and government agencies that care for homeless animals and advance animal welfare in Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota.

Gray said the van will allow volunteers to transport more cats at a time - 27 kitty crates can be fit into the vehicle - and will give the shelter’s high-mileage 2007 Dodge Durango SUV a break.

“We go every other week” to the west side of the state with a load of cats, she said.

The van came with regular tires plus a set of mounted studded tires. Also included was money for a year’s worth of gas and a vehicle “wrap” identifying it as Animal’s Foster Care van, purchased with ASPCA funds.

The shelter also is getting ASPCA money for new cat carriers.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Gray said.

As of July 23, the shelter took in its 10,000th cat/kitten since 2001. To that point in 2019, the shelter had taken in 724 “and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down,” said the group.

In July, the shelter took in 147 cats and kittens. Fifteen were adopted and 79 were sent to NOAH. Another 46 cats and kittens went to NOAH on Aug. 1.

As of July 31, there were 234 cats and kittens in the program, “which is a very large number for our limited resources.”

Some are in private homes as foster kitties and others are at The Cat House, a recently opened place for long-term shelter residents and cats needing socialization, but most of Animal Foster Care’s wards are at the shelter.

Shelter volunteers said The Cat House recently get an outdoor “catio,” so cats can go outdoors in a fenced-in area. The shelter also offers an outdoor yard for feral cats.

Volunteers are sought to help with a variety of shelter chores, from feeding felines and cleaning out cages to snuggling with kitties and serving as foster parents for new moms and cats with medical needs.

“We are in desperate need of volunteers on Saturday mornings to help us get all the cleaning done before we open at 10 (a.m.) to the public for adoptions,” according to the group. “At that time our current volunteers need to spend their time helping visitors interested in adopting, and we are so short-handed currently we have a hard time getting it all done before 10.”

The shelter is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays for adoptions.

Donations of cash, food and supplies also are welcome, shelter volunteers said.

Meanwhile OK SNIP, which offers spay and neuter services in Okanogan County, is trying to raise $5,000 to receive a dollar-for-dollar match. Plans recently were announced to resume the organizations spay and neuter services.

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