A home for the holidays?
Since October, Roxie Buniger of The Flower Cart in Eagle has been an Eagle Valley Humane Society foster mother to three kittens.
But she sincerely hopes her three feline friends all get the same present this holiday – a permanent, caring home.
“They are wonderful cats, I just can’t keep all of them,” said Buniger. “I really hope they find homes for Christmas.”
During the holidays, many families surprise the kids with a new puppy or kitten from Santa. People who volunteer with local animal rescue groups hope that residents consider adopting from the Eagle Valley Humane Society or the Eagle County Animal Shelter as a compassionate and community-minded way to bring a canine or feline companion into the home.
“It is really important to make sure someone really wants a pet before you give them one for Christmas,” said Char Thompson of the Humane Society.
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Unfortunately, come February or March, Thompson usually sees a number of reluctant pet-owners opt to relinquish animals they never really wanted. But, for people who are ready to take on pet ownership, there’s plenty of adult animals as well as puppies and kittens that are looking for homes.
The Eagle Valley Humane Society organizes an extensive local foster care program for homeless animals while they are prepared for adoption. Foster care volunteers provide special attention and care at home prior to animals being placed.
An advantage to placing animals with foster families over housing them in a cage, is that the families can get a better idea of an animal’s personality, Thompsons said.
“You get to actually see what the animals are like in a natural environment,” she said, “also it makes for better matches because we rarely get an adopted animal returned after adoption.”
As for foster families, Thompson said they come in all shapes and sizes. Young singles, families with children and older residents all take in animals. Some families prefer fostering dogs, others prefer cats and some even prefer working with young infant animals.
When Christmas arrives, sometimes foster animals have to be shifted around to different households, but Thompson said many of her stalwart volunteers keep up their duties throughout the holiday havoc.
Buniger is a case in point. Her business is located in the same shopping area as Wags and Whiskers, the Eagle pet store that also acts as a clearinghouse for humane society information. She would periodically drop by to see the animals and one day, Thompson urged her to consider becoming a foster parent.
“Fall is my slower time so I thought, ‘Yeah, I can do that,'” said Buniger. Her first foster litter included four kittens who were only 2 1/2 weeks old. The kittens had been abandoned by their mother.
“I had to bring them to the shop to feed them every four hours,” said Buniger. “It was worse than having quadruplets.”
But it was also very rewarding to watch her little charges grow and thrive, she said.
Within a few weeks they were regularly romping around the flower shop. That litter was soon joined by another litter of two kittens that had been found, abandoned in a box sitting on a sidewalk. One of those kittens made it, the other did not.
“That is something that makes be angry,” said Buniger. “We do have an animal shelter and we do have a humane society and we do have lots and lots of vets. Any of them will take animals in if you don’t want them.”
As for the kittens in her car, Buniger was happy to see two of them adopted already. Still available are Thor, a black male who earned his name because “he looks like a god,” Runt, the most diminutive of her charges, and Pepe.
These days all three hang out at her home, but Buniger is happy to bring them by her shop to meet prospective adoptive families. However, Christmas time isn’t the ideal time to have young animals running around a flower shop.
“Poinsettias are poisonous,” said Buniger. “It probably wouldn’t kill one of them if they ate a plant, but it could make them really sick.”