Searching for a pet online right now is a frustrating process. I would know: For two weeks, I scoured a rotation of adoption agency websites, several times a day, looking for kittens. Every time I saw one that I liked and applied it was gone the next day. So I took another path. Eventually my partner and I brought home a 10 week old gray kitten that we named Moose from the Foothills Animal Shelter in Golden, which recently reopened for in-person visits. Moose is an expert at climbing on pant legs, sleeping under my chin like a sling every night, and playing fetch.
Before the trip to Foothills, a member of staff advised me to arrive early if I wanted to see kittens, but I arrived an hour early and always was not the first there. People kept pouring in until we were put in a line, with only two families allowed in at a time under their new security guidelines. Then there was the added pressure not to take too much time when visiting with the animals.
It has become clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has not only impacted those with two legs. The difficulty I encountered when finding a pet was that small animal rescues were temporarily closing their doors, turning to virtual-only services, and working with vets, who are an integral part of animal health and preparation for adoption, which are supported by appointments. for weeks at a time.
(Read More: Everything You Need To Know About Pet Ownership In Colorado)
Spring and summer are already a busy season for adoption and fostering, and although the pandemic has made the process more complicated, the demand for pets has only increased. Rachelle Matossian, who encourages and manages marketing and community relations with the Douglas County Canine Rescue (DCCR), says they have added 140 new animal homes since March 17. Their adoptions had nearly doubled for 14 weeks just after closing until slowing down again from two to three weeks ago due to vets being backed up with appointments.
Some veterinary services have also been closed for a while and are catching up with appointment delays in addition to having limited staff in the office, says Jessica Roeger, who encourages and works on promotion, fundraising and development. at Demi’s Animal Rescue in Aurora.
Roeger saw that people who were considering adoption or foster care before the shutdown had a perfect chance once they started working from home. Suddenly, the ability to spend more time preparing and gathering supplies, and of course spending time with a new pet, was made available.
This demand was felt in the Front Range shelters. Like the DCCR, Demi’s Animal Rescue also received 28 new pet care requests in a month and a half, which is a 200% increase over the same period last year. Likewise, they are already approaching last year’s total number of adoptions of 183 pets with 160 so far this year.
“Most of our animals don’t even make it to the website,” says Roeger. “We are trying to give [the fosters] priority, and we have a waiting list. We just got a huge influx of applications, non-stop, so we kept them and contacted people as the animals are ready to be adopted. Once they are all vetted, many of them are adopted within 48 hours.
Foothills Animal Shelter and Denver Cat Company, which is home to the Tennyson Street Cat Cafe, were the only places I found I could go see cats in person. It was a huge advantage in choosing a pet and frankly it resulted in a faster result rather than endless surfing the web and waiting days for answers.
“We believe meeting your future family member is extremely important before bringing them home, so we have been working to find the best way to achieve this while ensuring the safety of our community and staff,” said said Jenny Homan, Marketing and Community Manager. engagement manager for the foothills animal shelter. “We have protocols in place to help with social distancing, installed more hand sanitizing stations, and require all customers to wear masks when entering the building.”
To accommodate as many adoptions as possible, the volunteers and staff at these shelters are working around the clock, and the community has stepped in to make sure the animals always find homes forever.
“We continue to be impressed with the support from our community,” Homan said. “We’ve had so many people asking how they can help during this time – from placement to volunteering to donation – it really speaks to the collaborative approach we take here at the shelter every day. ”