History will be made next week as more than 100 cats and kittens will be evacuated from the Animal Shelter Assistance Program facility in Goleta while the nonprofit’s space is tented for termites.
The furry felines will all be temporarily housed with experienced foster families during the unprecedented weeklong closure, which begins Sunday morning when 75 volunteers are scheduled to help families pick up their short-term house guests.
Cats are the only animals that will be affected during the pest extermination of the stand-alone ASAP building, which is adjacent to the rest of the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter on Overpass Road, according to Angela Walters Rockwell, ASAP executive director.
Walters Rockwell said the no-kill shelter — which on average handles 1,200 cats per year — was originally unsure how to best handle the six-day closure that’s being viewed as practice for an actual emergency evacuation.
Initial discussions centered on moving all cat-adoption operations into a temporary shelter location, but the decision swayed after so many experienced volunteers offered to help.
Within 24 hours of sending the first email out last month, all 100 cats had been promised temporary homes, Walters Rockwell said.
“It’s very symbolic of our organization,” she said, referring to the nonprofit’s 180 volunteers as a “scrappy” bunch. “There’s a willingness to just step forward and help. It’s exciting to be a part of a community where we can do something like this.”
Twenty local foster families will take in one or two cats — those that find the move more stressful — to a dozen for families who are cleaning out and donating their garages for the cause. The Santa Barbara Humane Society is also donating 80 large folding cages for the occasion.
Walters Rockwell said ASAP is using the opportunity to repaint the shelter’s white walls, which is why the closure will last through next Friday. The shelter will reopen to the public the following Monday.
ASAP’s cat-intake operations will remain open in a temporary office in a trailer outside the county facilities.
Since all the cats already have temporary homes, Walters Rockwell suggested that anyone wishing to help to donate their time or money to the nonprofit any time of year.
“It’s an expensive endeavor,” she said of the move. “We absolutely always need donations.”
Walters Rockwell said locals could also adopt cats through Saturday before adoption operations are temporarily put on hold.
She was happy to report that at least four adoptions have already come out of the unexpected exodus.