There is an emptiness at the SPCA. Amidst this global pandemic, we quickly moved many animals into foster homes and permanent ones. We suspended services and programs, cancelled events, and modified animal intake to address emergencies only. Yet, we’re still here and still helping animals.
On a typical spring weekday, volunteers would be crisscrossing our campus with shelter dogs on leash, and socializing cats in their real-life rooms. Owners would be filing into our low-cost spay/neuter clinic with their dogs and cats. We’d have a steady stream of folks visiting our adoption center, some to adopt, others just to look and admire. SPCA Education Department staff might be out visiting schools, hosting animal camp, or presenting at a library.
I’m not at the SPCA today, but I know none of these things are happening since we’re taking the shelter-in-place order seriously. I’m writing from my new “office”: a laptop set up on our dining room table at home where I can hear squeaks from the two SPCA guinea pigs we’re fostering.
My last trip to the SPCA was Friday, midday. I picked up 12 Chipotle burritos for our skeleton crew, and only handed out 10 after walking through the adoption center, barn and wildlife rehabilitation center. On a normal day, our campus is lively with close to 40 employees.
Make no mistake, the emptiness is temporary and surface level. The SPCA staff is at its best when the situation is at its worst. Within a day of receiving the shelter-in-place order, we set-up a new adoption by appointment process to limit visitors and contacts; it had a few bumps, but remarkably we’ve placed more animals into new homes this March compared to last March!
Our Education Department is creating fun content and emailing it to families of kids who attend our camp program. Behavior & Training Department staff made homework assignments for inmates training shelter dogs in our Ruff Start program, and they created virtual lessons for dog owners who now “attend” class from their living rooms.
Yesterday, we announced a virtual dog walk will replace our Wag n’ Walk -- our 25th annual -- which was to be held at Custom House Plaza on May 2. I don’t know exactly how this will go down, but I’m looking forward to it. My kids started their own fundraiser: $1 in a donation jar at home for every mile we walk our dogs during the shelter-in-place order. We’ll pass $40 with today’s walk.
Most days, The SPCA receives shipped or hand-delivered donations of pet food from superstars in our community and, just as quickly, they’re picked up from our self-serve Pet Food Bank without humans even seeing each other, but always giving thanks.
Staff unable to work on campus because of the shelter-in-place order are being tapped to make thank you calls to SPCA supporters. Something tells me they'll relish the new role and our fabulous supporters will enjoy hearing from them.
In these new times of social distancing and shelter-in-place, we’re providing excellent care for animals in our shelter. We’re rescuing sick and injured wildlife, responding to animal cruelty and abuse calls, and sending pet food to our Meals on Wheels partners who continue to deliver much needed pet food and supplies to homebound residents.
Some foster parents will fall in love and their fosters will become new permanent companions. Those who adopted this month have had nothing but time to help their new companions settle in. Silver linings.
We’ve practically had to lock-out volunteers; it’s killing them to be away from the roles and work that’s so important to them. They will return refreshed, committed as ever with a new vigor. Staff will undoubtedly take some of the new procedures and practices they’ve been forced to use and apply bits and pieces to “normal” life. More silver linings.
And all of this, every single thing we’re doing to help pets and people in our community, is all made possible by you. We can’t thank you enough.
Stay safe and healthy.
Join the pack.
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