Fosters step up as shelters around the country struggle to cope with coronavirus crisis

Fava, who’s being fostered by Cary Smith, spent the first four
months of her life outdoors with seven siblings and a chained mom.
Photo by Cary Smith/The HSUS

Cary Smith already cares for six dogs at home, but when she
heard a plea from the Homeward Trails Animal Rescue in Fairfax,
Virginia, as the coronavirus crisis broke, she knew she just had to
step up.

“They sent out a plea for fosters to take in dogs from their
adoption center to make room for more dogs they were pulling from
shelters,” says Cary, who works for the Humane Society of the
United States. “I like dogs. A lot. And there is nothing better
than watching a dog come out of his or her shell.”

So Cary brought a dog,
Mary
Ann
, home and, two weeks later, she took in a puppy,
Fava
, who’d spent the first four months of her life outdoors
with seven siblings and a chained mom. “She has already made huge
progress in the 24 hours I’ve had her and she is following my
other dogs’ leads. One of the silver linings in this distressing
moment is that I’m able to help more dogs with the time I now
have at home.”

Cary’s not alone in this. Dawn Beatty is fostering a dog,
Twinkle Lights, from the Richmond
Animal Care & Contro
l in Virginia. She reports that Twinkle
Lights, having decompressed from the shelter after a few days, is
now right at home. “We’ve really enjoyed having her here and
hoping we can find someone to adopt her. She really deserves a
loving home!” says Dawn.

Across the nation, animal lovers like Cary and Dawn are going
the extra mile to help animal shelters struggling with a new
normal, like the rest of the nation. And with most Americans
working from home or with reduced work hours, there has never been
a better time—or reason—for people to get involved with
fostering and adoption.

For animal shelters, which at any time house large numbers of
animals in need of daily care and socialization, the COVID-19
crisis presents even more challenges than it does in other social
contexts. Kimberley Alboum, HSUS director of shelter outreach and
policy engagement, reports that some shelters have no animals at
all and are concerned about the possibility of staff layoffs.
Others are full because routine transports to other regions have
been suspended. Finally, many shelters are concerned that pets from
their communities may soon be at risk of relinquishment by families
affected by COVID-19.

Despite these challenges, shelters throughout the country are
working hard to do the best they can to do right by animals, with
expanded foster programs, heightened adoption outreach, and strong
public messaging about the virus and what it means for companion
animals.

In Virginia, Loudoun Animal
Services
has created an innovative social distancing adoption
program. Taped lines with instructions guide shelter visitors, and
staff members report high adoption traffic. The SPCA of Wake County
in North Carolina is providing its community with the “Home Adoption Network.”
Each day at 2 p.m. the shelter conducts a Facebook Live event to
show the community the adoptable pets available. Pick up is by
appointment only. Ginny Sims, the director of Southern Pines Animal
Shelter in Mississippi
, reports that “slumber parties” —
overnight trials for potential adopters and the shelter’s
animals—are turning into permanent adoptions.

In addition to cats and dogs, shelters have a variety of smaller
animals that potential fosters or adopters can take home, depending
on their lifestyles, including rabbits, mice, hamsters, guinea
pigs, chinchilla, ferrets and even fish.

In addition to fostering, Kim Alboum offers these additional
tips for people looking to help:

  • Ask the shelters what they need. Many publish a wish list.
    Check and see what’s on the list and share with friends, family
    and social groups.
  • Adopt. With “social distancing” adoptions and
    appointment-only programs, you can visit the shelter without the
    crowd. Call ahead and schedule a time.
  • Check in with community programs like Meals on Wheels and other
    human services to reach out to people who may be struggling due to
    lost wages. With the economy in a precarious situation and
    unemployment rising, it is more important than ever that we do our
    best to keep pets with loving families and to keep animal numbers
    in shelters at manageable levels. Be sure to coordinate your
    outreach with your local animal shelter if it involves outreach to
    other organizations in your community.

The work we do here at the Humane Society of the United States
to support animals and the people caring for them continues with
even greater urgency at this difficult time. Earlier this month, we
released the first
COVID-19 tool kit to help shelters and rescue groups
prepare
for the potential impact of the virus, and we continue to support
shelters with resources and guidance. Your support helps us do this
important work, so please continue to stand by our side. Together
we will work through this crisis with kindness and compassion for
all.

The post
Fosters step up as shelters around the country struggle to cope
with coronavirus crisis
appeared first on A Humane World.

Source: FS – Pets – A Humane Nation
Fosters step up as shelters around the country struggle to cope with coronavirus crisis