SPCA superfans love visiting our website to view available animals, even when they have no plans to adopt. Those keeping tabs during these Covid times have been surprised, even floored. Where we used to have pages of available animals, we now have a handful, if that!
The SPCA and all shelters are experiencing unprecedented, pandemic times. We’re receiving far fewer surrendered dogs and cats, a welcome trend. We’ve also seen unparalleled interest in adopting; people are working from home and can give more of themselves to a pet. Another good thing. Though we never dreamed a global pandemic would get us here, the SPCA and other shelters don’t have nearly enough animals to meet the demand.
Animals are flying out of shelters, often the same day they are made available. Shelters narrowly focused on dog and cat adoptions are finding themselves in a bit of an identity crisis. “If we’re no longer a bustling adoption center, what are we?”
This is far from the case at the SPCA. While our dog and cat intake numbers are well below our norm, we are still accepting all animals. These days, many are TLC program cases with significant medical or behavioral issues. Many are in our care for months and we have staff to address their complicated needs.
Dog and cat adoptions are a highly visible part of who we are, but they don’t come close to defining the SPCA. Other departments -- like our Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Spay/Neuter Clinic and Barn -- have not seen the same drop in numbers or they’ve been reinventing their programs.
Our Education Department, for one, is finding new ways to bring our important messaging to children and we’re reaching more than ever, just differently. Our Behavior Department is spending more time with special needs dogs and looking at ways to reach puppy owners in need of training, socialization and ways to prepare for a time when they go back to work. They are also spending more time with our cats who need extra care and socialization so they can better settle into new loving homes. Our Veterinary Clinic has made modifications to keep staff and visitors safe, but we’re still averaging about 20 “fixes” per day and we’re providing low-cost vaccinations every weekday.
We’ve seen that animal cruelty doesn’t stop during a pandemic; our Humane Investigations team is constantly juggling cases. The Monterey County District Attorney’s Office asked if our experts could help their newly-hired Deputy DAs better understand animal cruelty to ensure successful prosecution of animal abusers. We jumped at the opportunity.
The drop in incoming dogs and cats has allowed us to conduct invaluable cross-training, something always beneficial but seldom easy to do in a near-capacity shelter.
Lastly, community needs have exploded due to Covid and we’re meeting them. Where we formerly made free pet food available onsite for a small number of low and fixed-income visitors through our Pet Food Bank, we’re now holding two weekly distributions at our shelter as well as two events per month where we bring pet food to targeted areas in our community. Since April, we’ve distributed close to 100,000 lbs of free pet food and this new program has involved staff in every department; this past weekend was my shift!
Thank you for understanding our changes and, thank you, as always, for helping us remain more relevant than ever for our community, through fires and a pandemic!