Florida Sheriff steps up as ‘professional cat wrangler’

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd wants his community to know they can help save kittens
By Kelli Harmon

How exactly did Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd take on the additional title of “professional cat wrangler?”

It all started with an offer from Best Friends to help some cats at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office animal control, about an hour east of Tampa, Florida. There were a lot of cats there, and Best Friends began picking up 50-70 of them at a time and driving them north for adoption. But then there were the kittens.

Summer is kitten season — everywhere. It sounds adorable and while the kittens are just that, the sheer number of them ending up in shelters is a challenge. It’s especially tough with orphaned kittens less than four weeks old because those tiny little ones must be bottle fed every few hours. It’s more than an already busy shelter staff can handle.

So, Best Friends offered to partner with Polk County to work together and save a lot of kittens this year. Soon they had a plan: The shelter staff puts out the word when very young kittens come in and a volunteer picks them up and places them in a foster home. Best Friends coordinates and funds the kittens’ medical care and adopts them into homes once they’re big enough to be spayed or neutered.

The goal: Give at least 500 kittens a second chance through the program this year. “We are excited about this new joint venture with Best Friends and our animal rescue partners,” says Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “Our citizens are caring and resourceful. We know that with the right structure in place we can help these kittens find forever homes.”

In the program’s first few months, nearly 300 kittens have gone from the shelter into foster homes. That’s a lot of kitten wrangling, and worth every second of it.

Want to wrangle kittens, too?

Your local shelters and rescue groups need kitten fosters. Contact them, sign up and become a hero! Not sure where to start?

Get the scoop on fostering a pet

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