Coronavirus has impacted everyone — including homeless pets and those caring for them. We reached out to thousands of shelters and rescue groups; all are desperate for assistance. Below, you’ll find the most important ways you can help.
FOSTER (OR ADOPT!)
Fewer pets are being adopted, but they haven’t stopped coming in to shelters. Adoption groups need your help getting them OUT! “With everyone staying home, it’s a perfect opportunity to step up and foster a cat or dog,” says Cathy Boruch of Paws for Life Utah.
And if you’ve been considering adoption, do it now! “It’s a great time, with people spending time at home, to bring a new animal into the household,” says Jacki Dapkus of Surface Creek Animal Shelter in Colorado. “Keep those kids busy training a new puppy!”
Groups desperately need pet food and cat litter — and cleaning supplies. “Don’t hoard!” says Julie Edwards of Humane Society of Northeast Georgia. “We need hand sanitizer, bleach, disinfectant wipes, baby wipes, etc.” Bobbi and the Strays in New York has had to close its two locations to the public due to the shortage of hand sanitizer.
You don’t need to go to the shelter to donate; most have online wish lists with links to the most-needed items. “We are asking our supporters to leave their old towels and blankets at home, limit their visits to the building, and donate through our Amazon wish list,” says Patricia Suess at Animal Protection Center of Southeastern Massachusetts. Shelters that are closed to the public can still receive donation deliveries.
Some shelters have told volunteers to stop coming in, but others are desperate for help. Shelters are short-staffed as employees have to stay home to care for their children; many shelter volunteers are over 60 and need to avoid contact. Extra hands are needed to clean, call vet references, take photos for social media, and, of course, socialize the animals.
“Any high school or college student who is now without classes would be valued as a volunteer, especially as a dog walker,” says Laura Amlong at Franklin County Humane Society in Missouri. “Interaction with pets can reduce anxiety, and dogs and cats aren’t included in social-distancing recommendations (thank goodness).”
SHARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Homeless pets need you to network them. “We need additional exposure for our adoptable animals due to slow-downs or cancellations of off-site adoption events, transports, and adoptions,” says Sharon Banaszak of Humane Society of Cedar Creek Lake in Texas.
Please also use your social media to share your local groups’ other needs. “Our priorities are adopters, temporary fosters, donations via our website, and social media exposure to support all of the above,” says Nicole Schiff of Georgia’s Paws Humane Society.
MOST OF ALL, GIVE CASH
I’ll be real with you. I usually ask you to give to us, the Petfinder Foundation, and we distribute your donations to the shelters that need it most. But right now, everyone needs help. So today, I’m asking you to give what you can to your local shelter or rescue group.
Annual fundraising events that many groups rely on have been canceled, adoption fees are drying up and longtime donors are putting their wallets away. Shelters may literally lose the roofs over their heads. “We are terrified,” says Danielle Stewart of Apollo Support & Rescue in Texas. “What will we do if we can’t afford to pay our mortgage?”
And please give an unrestricted gift. “Lots of people want to donate to specific programs or initiatives, but it’s the shelter workers and animal-care attendants who need the support now more than ever,” says TJ Treviño of San Antonio Pets Alive!.
I know everyone is hurting right now, but the good news is, there are many ways you can help homeless pets in your community. Thank you for thinking of them, and please take care and stay safe.