With the coronavirus forcing various businesses and services to either close their doors or alter operations, one sector with four-legged clients has received minimal attention over the last month: animal shelters and rescue groups.
While the virus doesn’t seem to affect animals, it does affect the humans who care for them, leaving ones without a home in the crossfire. However, organizations are working to match up animals with either a foster or “furever” home as quickly and safely as possible. People who take in these pets get the chance to have a new furry friend at home to act as emotional support while they practice social distancing and self-isolation from others.
ACC Animal Services and its shelter are closed until further notice, with staff working in staggered shifts, answering phones, scheduling appointments for adoptions, rescues, drop-offs, etc. Volunteers are not allowed to come in, and field services have been limited to emergencies, all in an effort to maintain the safety and health of staff. The shelter has open kennels, thus no euthanasia procedures have taken place, and they are not likely to be employed in the future because of the community’s willingness to foster and adopt.
Animal Service Director Kristall Barber made note of the shelter staff’s dedication to their animals despite quarantine protocols, stating that the shelter is an essential service and would still be available to care for the animals. Those seeking further information concerning Animal Services at this time are asked to visit www.accgov.com/animalservices.
Athenspets is the nonprofit that helps the ACC shelter line up foster homes and pay for spay/neuter surgeries and medical fees for the shelter’s animals. Currently, many volunteers have taken it upon themselves to foster some of the shelter’s animals to help out, and the experience has been quite rewarding.
Lisa Milot, executive director of Athenspets, is currently fostering a dog named Bert and shared how they’ve both benefited from spending time together. “Fostering a shelter pup is a nice diversion from focusing on all the things I can’t do right now,” she says. “Shelter staff suggested Bert, and he’s a perfect fit for me—he was extremely scared at the shelter, and each day I get to see progress in him, from his first tail wag, to approaching me when I’m not looking, to learning to ask when he needs to go out. These are concrete things I can focus on at a time when seeing progress more generally can be hard.”
Find more information about the group and check out adoptable animals by visiting athenspets.net, facebook.com/athenspets or @athenspets on Instagram.
Athens Canine Rescue has seen an uptick in fostering, according to president Bly Crane. However, the organization is limited by the number of long-term foster homes they can sustain, as they have no shelter of their own. This means if someone decides to stop fostering an animal, a new foster must be found. The good news is that as of Mar. 23, ACR had 30 foster dogs and 25 foster homes, leaving only five still in need of placement. However, volunteers are still working with local shelters within hygienic and social distancing parameters, and applications for adoption are still being accepted. The process has slowed down mostly to ensure that staff and applicants stay safe, but it’s a smooth process nonetheless.
The adoption protocol starts with an in-person meet-and-greet in a large fenced-in area, “where everyone can maintain a respectful personal space bubble,” Crane says. A virtual tour of the applicant’s home with pictures and videos is completed via email as a substitute for the standard home check. If the person loves the dog they meet during the in-person meeting, a one-week trial for adoption can be started immediately, with the adoption contract and payment all completed electronically. Visit athenscaninerescue.com, facebook.com/athenscaninerescue or @athenscaninerescue on Instagram for more information.
Athens Humane Society is closed and has fostered all of its pets over the past few weeks. They ask that anyone with serious inquiries call or email them (706-769-9155; firstname.lastname@example.org) and monitor their social media (facebook.com/athenshuman; @athenshumanesociety) for any further updates.
Circle of Friends is asking for donations to help with medical expenses and encouraging everyone to adopt or foster a pet if they can. The organization posts animals for adoption or fostering almost every day on Facebook and Instagram (facebook.com/cofaspets; @cofaspets). Reach out at cofas.org or email@example.com.
The Madison-Oglethorpe Adoption Shelter is adhering to the CDC’s social distancing protocol. On Facebook (facebook.com/moaspets), they have a master post for weekly updates and information, and they also update frequently with separate posts about animals available for adoption and fostering. At this time, the shelter is not accepting walk-in visitors, and volunteers are not permitted to return until Apr. 20, if health and protocol conditions permit. All adoptions, stray animal finds and pet surrenders can be made by appointment via phone (706-795-2868) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) between the hours of 12–4 p.m., Wednesdays through Sundays.
Regarding pet surrenders, MOAS has asked owners to keep their pets until Apr. 20, as this will help lower the risk of overcrowding and the possible need for euthanizations at the shelter. There is also a pet food pantry available for those concerned about being able to feed their pets. Those who visit are asked to take only what they need. Additionally, all spay/neuter surgeries through Apr. 15 have been postponed due to a shortage of medical supplies; they will be rescheduled for a later date. All community events and gatherings, including vaccine clinics, volunteer orientations, etc., have been canceled or postponed for the foreseeable future.
Let’s not forget about our four-legged friends while we’re separated from our two-legged ones.
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