Pandemic creates challenges and opportunities for animal shelters


Two Michigan Humane employees care for a dog in one of the organization's facilities.  The organization recorded more than 5,500 adoptions in 2020.


Capital Information Service

As the COVID-19 pandemic closed animal shelters to the public, Detroit-area pet rescue and adoption organizations have had to find new ways to connect their dogs and cats to families.

Their efforts have helped organizations maintain their interest in pets during the pandemic.

A survey of 1,191 U.S. shelters found a 19% increase in the number of animals placed in foster care from March 2020 to March 2021, even as the number of animals taken to shelters declined, according to the 24PetWatch pet insurance provider.

Vets are also reporting an increase in appointments. The average number of new pets per practice rose from 25 per week in late March 2020 to 39 in early July, according to veterinary practice software provider VitusVet.

The closures a year ago, however, drastically changed the operations of Michigan Humane, based at Bingham Farms, which operates three adoption centers and four veterinary centers in the Detroit metro area.

Qyuuie receives an exam at a Michigan veterinary hospital in Humane. Vets are reporting an increase in new pet appointments during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have been closed for several weeks. We conducted limited operations for many weeks after that, ”said media manager Anna Chrisman.

By the end of 2020, the organization had more than 5,500 adoptions, she said. This was down from 7,984 in 2019.

“We are always very proud to be able to find so many homes for so many animals,” she said.

While shelters are reopened, the number of visitors allowed inside is limited under pandemic health guidelines. Michigan Humane has an adoption by appointment system and has arranged for virtual adoption appointments via Zoom videoconferencing.

Chrisman said the organization plans to gradually open its lobbies to capacity.

“But so far it has worked really well for us,” she said. “People are incredibly patient and they are just thrilled to be able to come visit us and adopt a new family member. “

Leuk’s Landing, a cat rescue organization in Superior Township outside of Ann Arbor, also has a limited number of visitors and events, said executive director Leona Foster, who founded the sanctuary and l organization to rescue cats with feline leukemia virus in 2007.

Leukerbad offers long-term foster care rather than adoptions.

Foster said the number of people contacting the organization to welcome cats has tripled. She credits more students and parents working from home.

“We hope that as summer approaches and with the vaccines and with warmer weather where they can sit outside with the kittens” people will be able to enter the sanctuary “to visit the kittens more often “she said. .

Meanwhile, the organization is holding meetings for potential host families using Zoom. Sessions include assessment of potential foster families, cat care information and virtual foster home inspections.

Two Michigan Humane employees take care of a dog in one of the organization’s facilities. The organization recorded more than 5,500 adoptions in 2020.

At the Oakland County Animal Shelter and Pet Adoption Center in Pontiac, staff had to quickly find foster homes for 80 dogs when the state-imposed lockdown occurred.

“We were a bit lucky at the very beginning when we knew the governor was going to shut things down,” said Joanie Toole, the centre’s chief.

“We have a rescue (an organization) that we are working with and they have sent 80 dogs to foster homes. The majority of them were adopted after that, so it was wonderful, ”she said.

Weeks later, Toole said the shelter hired a company to clean up the shelter and feed the animals until it could reopen.

“When we opened in June, we didn’t just open the doors,” Toole said. “You need to make an appointment now, which makes the planning a bit easier. “

Toole said she expects the nomination system to continue even after the pandemic restrictions are lifted. She said dates provide a better experience for a family to get to know an animal.

“I think the adoption success rate is better that way if it’s just one on one,” Toole said.

Danneisha McDole is originally from Saginaw and arrived at Michigan State University in 2021. Her journalistic interests include difficult reporting and topical reporting. She hopes to become a news anchor for a well-known broadcast network.

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