With each day, there seems to be new challenges. Life, even compared to mere weeks ago, is different now. The Dumb Friends League staff is busy caring for the animals who come through our shelter doors while modifying processes and services to maintain the health and safety of our staff and community, as well as the animals. The League has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in many ways, and we are committed to continuing our efforts no matter the hurdles.
Animal shelters and veterinary hospitals are considered essential, as are their workers. It’s important that we facilitate animals staying in homes when unemployment threatens the ability for many folks to keep their pets fed and healthy. These are the same homes where isolation is taking an emotional toll, and the companionship of pets is life affirming.
At the same time, animals are still being relinquished, stray animals are still being brought to the League, and animals who are suffering at the end of their lives still deserve a humane ending. Of course, all of this work must be done while protecting the health of our staff. Our new reality has led to many changes around how the League operates, but it has not changed our commitment to speak for those who cannot.
One of the early changes made was the cancellation of all volunteer shifts at the Leslie A. Malone Center and the Buddy Center. Our volunteers make a tremendous difference in the lives of the animals at the League, and we cannot wait to welcome them back once it is safe! We have also separated our staff into two teams who are never exposed to one another, which has decreased the number of staff members at the shelters at any time. This approach allows us to follow physical distancing recommendations, and team members are jumping in wherever they are needed regardless of their “usual” job.
The adoptions process has changed, as well. We recognize that any time people leave their homes, any time we interact with the public, any time the public interacts with one another, we are adding to the devastation of this pandemic. While we must place animals, the adoptions process is inherently challenging. Instead, we are using our foster system to get our animals into homes, and if a foster parent wants to adopt the animal we have sent to them, we are happily making that happen. More than 2,000 members of our community have signed up to offer their homes to one of our animals, and we are grateful for this outpouring of support.
While the public is not allowed into our shelters, the League is still accepting the animals that need us. Initially, there was a sharp decrease in our intake, but we are now seeing many more animals that people can no longer keep despite resources we offer them.
Solutions¬–Veterinary Hospital is overwhelmed with demand. Our incredible team set up a “pop-up veterinary hospital” to serve even more animals with urgent medical needs. Everyone is working together for our community’s animals.
“I have deep gratitude for our volunteers who understand why we have had to make these changes, to the staff members who are working long days and showing up for the animals despite their own fears, the high risk staff members who are working from home and especially to our donors who, despite uncertain times, are sharing their resources so we can ensure animals aren’t forgotten,” said Dr. Apryl Steele, president and CEO of the League. “We look forward to getting back to normal when we are on the other side of this public health crisis. In the meantime, remember you matter, and we need you to stay healthy and safe. And know that we will never stop caring for the animals.”
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