In June, we discussed what it was like to go through kitten season during these uncertain times due to COVID 19. It was a delayed and then busy kitten season. Now we want to discuss what it is like to do rescue in the time of Covid 19.
Most of us adopted our best fur felines from rescues. Some of us donate to rescues or volunteer for them. The rescue community is a very important part of Weirdos. They have several functions, one of the most visible is adopting out stray and rehomed cats, the trap, neuter and releasing cats, feeding feral colonies, and fundraising to support all those activities including medical expenses for cats who come into rescue injured or sick. It’s a 24 hour job, seven days a week, in normal times.
Cleveland is not the only area of the country who has rescue operations affected by the Pandemic. In an article for CNBC, Covid and Animal Rescues, they take a look at the unique challenges faced by rescues in New York City. Adoption spaces were closed. Cats up for adoptions had to go back to their fosters to hold onto. At the same time, adoptions in the beginning of the pandemic skyrocketed. Help was needed to comb through the applications, conduct interviews over the phone and call references. In New York City, the ASPCA saw a 70% increase in adoptions. However the adoption process stalled when most veterinary offices and hospitals closed down. One rescue organization put it plainly, “I can’t ask my fosters to take in a foster [animal] that isn’t vetted.” Many organizations won’t adopt out cats who aren’t fixed. Some organizations who have medical staff were able to get their cats vaccinated. Some had to wait.
In Cleveland, Viva Los Gatos Joanne Catolioti, stated, “We've just had to adjust because of the long wait for spay/neuter. We did a few foster to adopts. We made specific contracts so we can keep ownership of kitten until they're fixed then we sign over to adopter officially.
Another issue is that most rescues depend on donations with a large part of their donations coming in the form of fundraisers. Some organizations' fundraisers were cancelled, delayed, or put online. Other fundraisers could easily transfer to online. Some venues had to be cancelled due to large gathering restrictions. Asking for money is never easy but challenging in uncertain times. Brittany Kuntz, Executive Director of Furever Companions Animal Rescue states, “Our big fundraiser this summer was canceled so our funds are super low and we get all of our pet's fully vetted.”
COVID also challenged rescuers to innovate ways around the challenges. At Gatos, Joanne came up with one idea that might stick after the pandemic, “We're also doing online home inspections and are definitely going to keep that going... We knocked out 2 last night that would've taken much effort scheduling and at least a week to get done.”
So How can you help???
Funding and Fostering:
As always, the biggest need of rescues besides funding is fosters who are willing to take on cats and kittens to socialize and take care of before the cats can be adopted. Especially now, as most organizations in the area are foster based. If you can open your home and your heart, it would be most appreciated. Please go to our resources page to check out local rescues near you.
Let’s hear your rescue COVID stories. Have you had any challenges? Have you changed any procedures or discovered things that work for you?
For more information on how you can help support rescues and shelters through the pandemic, stay tuned for Part 2 of this article next week!
-Written by Weirdo Admin and Board Member Meredith Janik