Westminster resident Kim Crowder said she wants her children to love animals just like they love people. That's why she and her family decided to foster a litter of four kittens this year for Saving Grace Animal Rescue of Maryland.
Crowder will have three of those kittens at a Celebrate Pets event in Westminster Oct. 25.
"I always knew I would foster kittens one day," Crowder said, explaining that their fourth bedroom was for her husband's bird and when the bird passed away, her mind turned to fostering. "The room was empty and I wanted to try it," she said.
"My children are still so young and they don't understand the world yet, but I want them to take care of other animals," she said.
"When you see the statistics on the number of animals put down by the humane society you want to help," Crowder said. "If you foster kittens you get love and affection, but you don't have to spend much." She said those who foster for the rescue organization must buy food and litter for kittens, but the rescue pays all medical bills. "There is little output in money but you are still helping the animal community," she said.
"They love them," Crowder said of the relationship her children — 5-year-old Jake and 2-year old Emma — have with the kittens. "They get out the bucket of toys and throw them and the kittens run all over. And they cuddle them. We have one foster kitten who is black and really loves Jake; she rubs against him and she mainly goes up to him to ask for petting. Emma likes one named Tad, and she recently had a tea party with him."
Crowder said the kittens are teaching her children a lot, including patience. "Sometimes they get on Jake's nerves, especially if they are laying on his train tracks," she said.
"Emma just recently started talking, but she tells me, 'Oh she's so cute,' and she gushes over the kitties," Crowder said.
The four foster kittens soon outgrew the bedroom and were integrated into the household with the family's two adult cats. And then one of the four was placed in a new and loving home.
Crowder said she "was really nervous" when the first kitten was about to be adopted out. A volunteer had already checked references and put the woman in contact with Crowder. "I talked with her by email for a while and then she came to meet [the kitten]," she said. "At first I wondered if she'd be a perfect match, but now I feel really good about it and she emails me updates which I share with the kids."
Crowder found out about Saving Grace Animal Rescue of Maryland on Facebook.
Saving Grace volunteer Betty Colson "is very active in Animal Advocates of Carroll County and I follow them on Facebook, where I got to know her," Crowder said. "I saw all that they were doing and I thought maybe it was time for me to foster when school let out," she said, noting that she contacted Colson.
"Saving Grace Animal Rescue of Maryland feels very fortunate to have Kim's family foster kittens for our rescue," Colson said. "The foster kittens in their home are receiving excellent care, much love and a great deal of social interaction with their children. They are providing an excellent foundation for these kittens to go on to be wonderful loving pets in their forever homes."
"They are so innocent," Crowder said of rescue animals. "They come to you innocent, and they just want shelter and love. Some [of the cats and dogs that are rescued] never realize how bad it could be, and that is a good thing," Crowder said. "We can make a difference for them."
Tractor Supply Company will have a Celebrate Pets event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, at the TSC store at 1151 Baltimore Blvd., Westminster.
Look for a variety of animal rescue groups, some with adoptable pets on hand; pet portraits for a $10 donation to Animal Advocates of Carroll County; a $10 rabies shot clinic, offered by Seibel Mobile Veterinarian Services; raffles; an animal dress-up contest, with judging at 1 p.m.; and pony rides. In addition, hot dogs and hamburgers will be for sale, sponsored by Francis Scott Key High School's Future Farmers of America.
For more information, call Laura Shenk at 443-536-5533 or call TSC at 410-848-2060.
Find out more about Animal Advocates of Carroll County on the organization's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/AnimalAdvocatesOfCC.