Fostering fur-ever friends

Streetsboro families share homes with animals in need


photo courtesy of: Louise Milton

Intervention specialist Louise Milton with one of her fostered kittens.

Abbie Myers, Reporter

Intervention specialist Louise Milton and her husband spent their spring/summer quarantine time fostering and enjoying the company of kittens and mama cats. 

“We play with them, which is the best part,” Milton said of their foster kitties, “help with transitioning them from Mama’s milk to kitten food at about three-four weeks old, and just generally spend time socializing them.” 

The Miltons are not the only members of the SHS community who foster. 

Junior Gia Hlad was initially fostering the miniature blue Shar-Pei and regular Shar-pei who are now officially family pets. 

Freshman Jayy Whited fosters birds ranging from big macaws to tiny finches. 

Milton said she has always wanted to foster kittens and cats and she felt this dream was also a way to give back. Without much to do during quarantine, she began fostering in May. 

Her love for animals also inspired her to volunteer at a local animal shelter a few years ago. 

Many cats are euthanized due to overpopulation at shelters, she explained. “Even more suffer outside on the streets and in neighborhoods and if I can help change the life of a few kittens a year, then I am helping in some way,” she said. 

Milton is so committed to fostering that one of the bedrooms in her home is dedicated to the kitties she brings in. Milton does this because the mama cats and kittens can carry germs and viruses that could potentially spread to the other animals in her home. 

Despite the potential dangers, Milton said the fostering is rewarding, but also emotional.

Although fostering is one of the most rewarding experiences, it is also very emotional,” Milton said. The second group of cats she fostered was very sick and one of the kittens, Ruby, did not make it. 

While the experience was heartbreaking, Milton said she believes if they had not been fostering Ruby’s litter, none of them would have survived. Though this was a scary experience for the Miltons, they learned how to recognize signs of illness and administer medication, along with IV fluids. 

Over the course of the summer, Milton’s fostering changed — and potentially saved — the lives of 11 animals. Despite the emotion and exhaustion, she said the experience was worth it. 

Milton plans to resume fostering this May. Anyone interested in following her foster journey and possibly adopting one of her cats or kittens can check out “Foster in the Falls” on Facebook and Instagram. 

Hlad’s fostering story started about three years ago with a family friend who was going through a hard time and could not take care of her dogs. The Hlads offered to foster them for a while, but after a few months, the friend was unable to take the dogs back. 

Hlad and her dad did not want the dogs to have to go to the pound so they decided to keep them. 

While Hlad was fostering, she learned how easy it was to get attached. “I honestly think it would have been really hard on us if we had to give them back,” she said. 

She enjoys taking the miniature blue Shar-Pei, Luna, on walks at local park Sunny Lake, she said. Her regular Shar-pei, Roxy, is more laid back and likes to stay at home and play with toys. 

Hlad said she considers fostering to be caring and showing love towards a pet while arrangements are being made.

Rumba, an African Grey, is one of the dozens of parrots freshman Jayy Whited has cared for

Like Milton, Whited also began fostering during the quarantine. They originally adopted two lovebirds and an African grey, but later decided to foster.

“We like to help the birds recover from past abuse, and sometimes we do end up adopting if it is a good fit,” they said. 

Whited said they do not mind fostering but that it can be stressful at times. Based on their fostering experience. they learned that all birds bite and not all are easy to care for. 

Whited said they believe fostering is a recovery process for the bird and a learning experience for them.