Despite many community services being put on hold, many still remain available, although what is or isn’t can often seem a bit hazy. Many local entities are either closed or maintain only minimal operations, and I had assumed, as I’m sure others have as well, that animal shelters were among these. Unlike restaurants, gyms, libraries, or community centers, the purpose and functionality of an animal shelter doesn’t rely on a regular influx of patrons from the public.
People are, however, still needed to run it.
Filling Kongs (rubber dog toys that somewhat resemble a triple scoop of ice cream minus the cone) with peanut butter and various treats, playing with kittens, loading and unloading the washing machine, pulling weeds; these are things I can remember doing with my daughter while she put in community service hours at our local animal shelter in Rohnert Park. There were days when the shelter seemed so busy with a constant flow of volunteers, some of whom were children either participating in the shelter’s junior volunteer program or to fulfill a community service requirement for school. Still more people would come with their pets to take advantage of the many services the shelter provides, or without, either to adopt or visit. I imagine it hasn’t looked quite the same this past year without the usual activity, but Mickey Zeldes, Supervisor for Rohnert Park Animal Services, has assured me that despite obvious restrictions the shelter remains open to the public for various services. They want people to know that they are still here—doing the same things, only differently.
Among the temporary changes are a reduction in traffic in and out of the shelter—services are by appointment only and volunteering opportunities are limited to adults, with restrictions of one volunteer at a time. Even with these limitations the shelter seems to be doing well. Adoption rates have been at least consistent with those pre-pandemic, if not higher, the pet food pantry continues to aid those in need and spay/neuter as well as micro-chipping services are still available.
Since the animal population so far has stayed fairly low, the reduction in volunteers has been, for the most part a non-issue. However, they are bracing for the end of the eviction moratorium, currently set for March 31 absent any extension, which could likely mean a possibly large influx of animals also losing their homes. With this in mind, the shelter would like to remind the community that they are here should their services be needed. Continue to adopt, continue to spay/neuter and micro-chip, and if necessary, be aware that should you no longer be able to care for your animal companions there is a safe place available for you to take them.