Local Animal Rescue Group Featured in National Magazine

The Animal Shelter Assistance Program (more familiarly known as ASAP), the nonprofit organization which cares for the cats at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter in Goleta, has made national news with a feature in Animal Sheltering magazine. Animal Sheltering is published by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the world’s largest animal welfare organization, and circulates nationally to hundreds of thousands of readers.
Animal Sheltering, the main publication of the HSUS, “goes beyond the four walls of shelters and rescues to look at the broader picture of the state of pets in the U.S… . From those working to save more animals’ lives at the shelter to those helping prevent pets from being there in the first place,” the magazine “covers the people and organizations that are making a difference” for animals around the world.
“Out of the Lion’s Den,” which appears in the July/August 2016 issue, describes ASAP’s innovative “Tiny Lion Tamers” program, which trains volunteers to tame feral (wild, unsocialized) kittens in order to make them friendly and suitable for adoption into homes. The program came into being in the summer of 2015, when the Goleta shelter was suddenly faced with the prospect of rehoming 30 kittens too wild to be placed up for adoption. With all of its foster homes already full, and most not equipped to handle “popcorn” kittens – so called for how they hiss and jump like popping corn — ASAP looked for a creative solution. The result was the Tiny Lion Tamers program, created by ASAP’s Feline Behavior Team, which is staffed by volunteers with special training in basic socialization techniques.
ASAP put out a call for volunteers with the invitation, “Have you ever dreamed of being a lion tamer? Well, now is your chance to learn!” The response was overwhelming. Volunteers attended a special training, committed to working under an experienced supervisor, and visited the shelter regularly to work with feral kittens in a room specially set aside for them. Tiny Lion Tamers use food and play to gradually draw the kittens towards human contact, making the experience positive. The aim is for the kittens to “see you as something that adds quality and value to their lives,” says ASAP Executive Director Angela Walters Rockwell.
As noted in Animal Sheltering magazine, 120 tiny lions passed through the program in its first eight months and found homes. The program has also become ASAP’s most successful area for volunteer involvement, with a core group of 26 who come to the shelter at least once a week during the busy kitten season.

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