My friend was thrilled to learn a week ago that groomers would be allowed to reopen (with restrictions, of course). She immediately made an appointment for her Maltese/shih tzu mix that looked twice her size with her thick coat. I’m so jealous! Our dogs can get a haircut but we can’t!? How is that fair? I look every bit as shaggy as little Jazz did and I’d gladly take an appointment at the Poodle Parlor if they’d let me! Some of those groomers are true artists and magicians with dramatic differences in the before and after photos to prove it.
It’s nice to see businesses starting to come back to life. We just all have to be prudent and cautious about doing it too quickly and ignoring simple rules about social distancing. We were asked by the city to come up with our plan for when the shelter could start a soft opening. It’s an interesting concept to explore. You can disinfect the chairs in the visiting rooms but we certainly can’t bathe the animals between every visitor! We’ve done amazingly well too with doing things over the phone and via email; sold pet licenses, took in a few owner surrender animals and had over two dozen virtual adoptions. Maybe it’s more successful if people don’t have so many choices and like arranged marriages, don’t get to meet the one chosen for you until you get home.
The shelter is just starting to open up our Fix-it clinics again with priority given to female cats. We’ve been told to expect a high volume of kittens this year since all spay/neuter clinics were on hiatus during half of March and all of April, which is when cats give birth. So far it’s been a late, slow beginning to kitten season but I don’t want to jinx it. We will start doing a few cats at a time, having people wait in their car until we come out for the animal and emailing paperwork back and forth. Our goal is to prevent as many cats as possible from getting pregnant! If you have an unfixed feline, and live in Rohnert Park or Cotati, please call our Fix-it Clinic message line at 588-3531 for an appointment.
We haven’t been told yet when to start opening our doors but we will, at least, initially, start with an appointment system. Adoptable animals are super low, so it’s not really worth a visit to browse our animals. Probably most questions can be handled over the phone so we’re not worried about a huge crowd wanting to come in. Really the only reason that would necessitate a personal visit is to surrender a pet or to reclaim your wayward animal. If you have a situation that needs to be handled in person, please call the shelter line at 584-1582 for an appointment.
There have also been a lot of inquiries about our popular children’s camp, Kidz ‘n Critters. Right now it’s on hold – it would be hard to practice social distancing with our tiny lobby used as the classroom. Shows even more the importance of getting the Education Center that we are dreaming about! The idea has been tossed around of doing zoom camps or other online programs but it’s really difficult to hold a camp about animals without any animals! Keep tuned to our Facebook page to see what creative ideas we may come up with.
We can’t wait to get back to business as usual but I have the feeling that we’re all in for a new “usual.” As businesses adapt to this new reality I see an opportunity for improving our service model. Utilizing the modern technologies available to us – FaceTime, Facebook, Zoom, etc., may open up opportunities that we can’t even begin to know yet. I look forward to the challenge!
Mickey Zeldes is the supervisor at the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.