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Wild about animals: 3 things to do with the kids in Harford County this summer

Wild about animals: 3 things to do with the kids in Harford County this summer
Krista Ellis and her son Matthew Ellis Gobel, 4 1/2, are fostering Grady, a cat who was placed with them by Best Friends In Harford County. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Looking to introduce the children to new experiences and get them comfortable around animals? This summer, you can help the young ones foster a cat, meet new critters or have fun with animals while learning.

Help foster a cat

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Families can teach their young children about animals in need through fostering a cat or kitten this summer. Best Friends in Harford County is looking for families to take in cats as fosters this summer so that they can help more animals find forever homes.

“Fostering as a family helps to teach children responsibility, kindness and caring,” said Kelly Lyons, foster coordinator for Best Friends. “It also helps to teach them that there are animals in need out there.”

Fostering commitments range from just a night or a weekend to a week or longer. Best Friends provides foster families with a bed, litter, cat food, toys and guidelines on how to make the cat or kitten feel at home. They also provide fun props like a flower collar or a bowtie for the families to take pictures to show potential adopters.

Families with children of any age can foster, as long as the parents take responsibility for the cat.

The foster families help to evaluate the cats and kittens before they go up for adoption. If families cannot take a cat or kitten into their home, children and their parents can still help the organization by providing litter, food and water to cats at adoption centers.

Best Friends in Harford County can be reached at 443-390-6676. Find more information at bestfriendsinharfordcounty.org.

Watch the critters have dinner

Watch turtles, amphibians and snakes eat while learning about their natural habitats and habits with a program at the Anita C. Leight Estuary Center through the Harford County Department of Parks and Recreation.

The free programs “critter dinner time” and “meet a critter” are offered once a month this summer.Children and their families get the chance to explore the nature center property while learning about critters and their environments.

“Critters are always a real attractant for kids and we give them an opportunity to learn about them in a natural and non-threatening environment,” said Kriste Garman, park manager at Anita C. Leight Estuary Center.

The Anita C. Leight Estuary Center is at 700 Otter Point Road in Abingdon. 410-612-1688 or otterpointcreek.org.

Explore and learn at a pet festival

Pets, pies, hot dogs and a massive turtle will greet children and their families at the third annual Joppatowne Lions Club Pet Festival.

Families are encouraged to bring their pets. There will be a costume parade, a pet look-a-like costume contest and a chance for visitors to meet Darwin, a 140-pound African tortoise.

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“We aim to make it a fun event for those of all ages with some contests, lots of pets and an opportunity to learn something new,” said Rich Bennett, president of the Joppatowne Lions Club. “Children always have a blast with plenty of opportunities to enjoy time with animals.”

The free event will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 8 at Copenhaver Park.

Robert Copenhaver Park is at 664 Trimble Road in Joppatowne. Information: the Joppatowne Lions Club at 410-656-9855 or joppatownelionsclub.org.

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