I was having lunch with a girl friend the other day (outside, keeping social distance of course) and I was saying how busy the shelter has been. She asked how that could be when I had just commented on how low we are on animals and that the shelter is closed right now to the public. She asked what we were doing that kept us so busy so I thought I’d share a bit of insight into a day at the shelter.
So first to note is that because we are closed to the public we have cut staff hours and are running on a skeleton crew. Also important to note is that we have just started allowing one volunteer at a time to come in to help out instead of our usual daily team of cat cuddlers, dog handlers, kennel helpers, office assistants and more. So the work that needs to be done is being done by one, or at most, two employees. And although we are low on adoptable animals we are still getting in strays. Which means we have to stop whatever we are doing and do an intake in the computer to generate the paperwork needed to track each animal.
Did I mention that this month we switched to a new shelter software? We’ve taken advantage of the lull during this pandemic to learn a new system and manually transfer over the 400 animals we’ve taken in since January 1. It has taken hours to configure the program and it’s obvious that it takes a lot longer to do any particular transaction as we slowly get comfortable with how the new software works. Nothing like adding the stress of learning a new program to an atmosphere fraught with anxiety!
We are doing adoptions, slowly, virtually, figuring our way through a new protocol – that has changed multiple times over the past few weeks. You wouldn’t believe the number of steps it now takes to get an animal out our door! We first arrange a zoom/FaceTime meeting with the animal they are interested in, using that time to tell the potential adopters all that we know about the animal and attempting to show how they are with people. Everything takes longer as we get information over the phone, print out paperwork then scan it in and email it over to the interested party. Wait for it to be returned then call for a credit card payment – again, over the phone taking the credit card number remotely. When all that is finished we can arrange the time for pick up!!
Keeping our website and Facebook current with available animals and informational posts is almost a full-time job. Just trying to get a good picture of each animal is a time-consuming. If you’ve tried to take pictures of your own pet, you understand what a challenge that can be! Then each animal needs a creative blurb that will catch your fancy and showcase the animal in his best light. Not easy!
Even though our door is shut the telephone never stops ringing. We handle a myriad of questions – “I found a stray,” “we lost our dog,” “I just saw kittens under my deck,” “my neighbor’s dog barks non-stop, what can we do?” and so on. The questions keep coming and the issues are always varied. In addition to that we have virtual meetings to attend and webinars on every topic you can imagine. This slow time is great to catch up on training and reviewing protocols and procedures. I still have this column to write each week, plus a monthly report – naturally nothing stops the need for paperwork!
This is all in addition to the cleaning that’s done each day and the direct care of the animals in our facility. And everyone knows that job is never done! Things might have slowed down for the world outside our door but we sure are busier than ever. Did I mention that we have restarted doing spays and neuters for our Fix-it Clinics? And still offering free microchips for the pets of Rohnert Park and Cotati? But now it’s by appointments and we come out for your pet while you wait in your car. I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting – mundane things like dishes, laundry and sorting through the donations that just seems to grow by themselves. Does it sound like we’re busy? I know it sure feels that way to us!
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at email@example.com.