OKLAHOMA CITY - The little faces of puppies and kittens at the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter are part of a big problem.
Puppies and kittens are especially vulnerable to disease because of their immature immune systems and they often get sick when they stay in the shelter.
Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Council passed a new pet program called "Foster-To-Transfer."
It is designed to keep young animals healthy by working with local rescue groups.
Jon Gary, with the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter, said "With this new ordinance, we're going to be able to send these animals out into foster homes to try to keep them healthier."
Groups like The Bella Foundation will look after the little ones from the day they get turned into the shelter until they are adopted or an owner comes forward.
"When puppies [and kittens] come to you and they're still so young and they're still developing so quickly, it definitely makes you more attached," said Tevin Garner, with The Bella Foundation. "It makes you really want to focus on that animal and making sure they're set up to be a great pet for somebody else."
Less than 1 percent of kittens will ever be reclaimed once they're brought to the shelter and it's less than 3 percent for puppies.
"No one ever comes and looks for a litter of puppies, they just don't," said Gary. "And so this is just an opportunity to try to save more of them."
Pictures of the puppies and kittens will be kept at the shelter, on social media and on the shelter's website so owners can search for their lost pets.
Sending the puppies and kittens to foster homes will also help over-crowding at the shelter.
The program should begin in about 30 days.