The shelter is still busy even though we’re not open to the public right now. We are not doing adoptions although many people have called to say that this would be the perfect time to bring home a new pet since they were working from home right now. But with the shelter-in-place order issued, adoptions did not make the essential services list. Unfortunately public spays and neuters are also on hold, Bunfest had to be postponed and there is a moratorium for on boarding new volunteers or fosters. We are trying to keep our animal population low right now and only have a skeleton crew each day to care for them. And if we can help reunite a stray with his or her family without having the animal surrendered to us, all the better. But we're still making appointments to take in stray animals if needed, return them to their owners and to take in owner surrenders if there is an urgent reason. So we still have animals on site needing daily care.
We are so blessed to have the best group of dedicated volunteers anywhere! Since they are not allowed to come in to socialize and check on their favorites, they opened up their homes to our animals and just about everyone in our adoption wards got scooped up into a foster home during the shelter-in-place order. Lucky animals are getting a well-deserved and needed break from their cages and kennels! After all this time it will be interesting to see how many are actually returned! We have already heard from a few of our fosters that they will be keeping the pet (we affectionately call them foster failures!) or have found them a good home with a family member, friend or neighbor. Maybe we should try this more often!
Sadly, neglect and cruelty continues despite the virus. We recently had an officer retrieve three matted, under socialized bichon-mix dogs that had been left behind from a house when the tenants were evicted. They just left the dogs in the backyard and moved out! So sad. Then an officer got a call that a motor home that was about to be towed from a parking lot seemed to have dogs in it. In fact it contained five pitbull mixes! And a look through the surveillance tapes showed that no one had been in the RV for at least a full week to feed or care for the dogs. Yep, they were thin. And covered with pee and poop. Glad I wasn’t the one that had to go into the RV to retrieve them as I can only imagine how bad that place smelled! Fortunately, aside from the desperate need for a bath and food, they seemed in good shape and are friendly dogs. But did I mention we are trying to keep our population low?
If you are facing hard times right now with all the lay-offs and lack of work, which we know is affecting everyone, you may feel pressure to surrender your pets. The government is trying to make some money available for people affected by the virus and keeping all your family together is a valid reason to apply for all the help you can get. Another suggestion is to see if anyone already familiar with the animal could help you out by taking the pet until you are back on your feet. If you need help with pet food right now we have donations to share (and are accepting donations of pet food for this purpose), so call and make an appointment to pick some up. Please reach out for help from family, friends and us before you get to a point of needing to surrender your pet. The app Nextdoor.com is a huge help with connecting neighbors with each other and a good way to reach out for help if needed. With no adoptions happening, we are just keeping the animals as best we can but it’s not the same as being in a home.
This is a trying time for all of us and new challenges are appearing daily. We are doing our part to keep everyone safe by keeping our doors shut and limiting interactions with the public. Feel free to call us for assistance, though, at 584-1582 or via email for general information at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay home and stay healthy! Your pets need you.
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at email@example.com.