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They Did It: Offsite Neonatal Care for Kittens

Why is this animal control officer bottle feeding this newborn kitty? In order to reduce the number of neonate kittens entering the shelter and to increase community involvement, Miami-Dade Animal Services (MDAS) launched the Milkman Program, where ACOs provide training and neonate care kits to folks who have called to report kittens with no mama.

There are currently 14 ACOs in Miami-Dade County out and about helping people help newborn kittens. 


MDAS—an ASPCA Partner—had recognized there was an unmet need in offering resources to people requesting pickup of abandoned or orphaned kittens. ACOs would respond to the call, taking custody of the kittens who would then enter the shelter. The volume of neonate kittens entering the shelter far exceeded the number of fosters and rescues—that’s when MDAS came up with the Milkman Program to empower more community members to care for the kittens.


How the Milkman Program Works

After completing an hour of program training, animal control officers carry neonate kits in their response vehicles. When dispatched to a call involving abandoned or orphaned neonate kittens, the officer advises that the shelter is not staffed to provide the around-the-clock care required and requests their help, explaining that the basic needs of the kittens include feeding, elimination and maintaining warmth.

Those willing to assist are provided with a neonate care kit and placed on a schedule to bring the kittens to the shelter for age-appropriate vaccination and worming. Once the kittens are 7-8 weeks old, they are brought to the shelter for sterilization and adoption or transport.


So What’s In the Kit?

Since the start of the program several months ago, ACOs have distributed 30 ASPCA-sponsored neonate care kits containing:

According to chief of shelter operations and enforcement Kathy Labrada, the response to the program has been extremely positive. “Empowering the public has improved public perception of the department and increased awareness related to the lifesaving efforts we make every day,” she says.

Want to try a program like this? Labrada says to go for it—“Embrace the opportunity to engage your community in becoming part of the solution.”


How do you ask for help with neonate kitten care at your agency?


Photos: Miami-Dade Animal Services


Related Links

Running a 24-Hour Kitten Nursery

Kitten Season Planning: Bring Your Own Bottle

ASPCA Partnerships

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Every county should have this program for our new born kittens. All of the kittens are not abandaned or orphoned. People have this crazy notion in their heads that if they stumble across kittens under a porch or in the bush they have no mom. The mother leaves them to go find food, or they head for the place where the feeder will be. People have to give some time for the mom to return, if she does not, after watching for awhile, then the folks should seek out for help. Yes, the kittens can be an orphoned, or the mom died by being hit by a car on the way back as did happen to a mother cat after feeding. We found her in the street still warm and a man was nearby and did not try to help her and she died. Leaving her kittens to possibly die. It was sad to see' but I stayed in the street with and did not let cars run her over a million times. My other rescuer found a box and we found a place for her. So dam sad that people are so dam cruel! We believe that she may have been poisoned tho, cause when we got her in the box, she had no marks of any kind.We searched the nieghbourhood for her babies, but no one knew where they were hidden. Hopefully they did not die. We need more of you!" ,"milkman program. Thank you. Nan. Rescue


I would like to speak with someone who can provide full details about the milkman program- I especially want:
the written instructions that the officers leave with the foster parents,
info on how much milk replacement product you leave with the fosters,
cost of the milk replacement in bulk & how much you purchase for a kitten season,
I have info on the warming discs but need info on how many to purchase,
your written agreements on fostering & who pays for medical care during foster,
arrangements for taking the kittens into the shelter.

We have a meeting Wed morning about starting this program so any info that could be provided today would be appreciated, and the phone # of a contact person.

Sue Kolze
Animal Network, Inc


Hi Sue,
We're working on getting someone in touch with you ASAP! Thanks for your comment.



I'm with Sue, and would love more details as well!


As the foster coordinator I am very interested in finding out how to get this program started. It sounds like a life saver for sure.

Adrianne Gammon
Halifax Humane Society
Daytona Beach Fl.
386-274-4703 ext. 331



Please also contact me about starting a Milkman program in our county. Also would like to ask what your response would be to those that question whether we might inadvertently be contributing to animal overpopulation? How to ensure that home fosters will bring these kittens back for necessary vaccinations and altering - or even abandon themselves? Please don't shoot the messenger. I would like to be able to respond intelligently and rationally when the difficult questions arise. We simply do not have the staff or budget to follow up in a county our size.

Thank you and looking forward to hearing more!

Michele Rugo
Friends of Calaveras Animal Services (FOCAS)

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