AUSTIN (KXAN) — The furry friends are already tough to resist.
Cuddly soft, little fluffy balls — all the good boys and girls are just begging to come home. And, perhaps for some, the extra time working from home has brought up the desire to bring a dog or cat into the family. But how is this working during a pandemic?
“As soon as we got word that this pandemic was happening, all of the leadership and management staff got together to figure out how this was going to affect operations, and, of course, it affected us just like every other business,” explained Katelen Knef, Shelter Manager at the Austin Humane Society. Its operation went into a staff-only mode and eliminated volunteers to have as few people as possible on-site while also being able to care for the animals.
Much like everything else in our world, the adoption process has turned virtual.
“Everything is online through a Skype call, Facetime call, a Zoom call, and then over the phone chatting with our adoption counselors,” Knef said. She explained the steps from beginning to end, saying families can express interest in certain pets by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’ve worked really hard keeping up to date with our social media as well as our website on all of our adoptable pets so that the public really has a clear image of who we have here available for adoption,” Knef said.
From there, potential fosters or adopters will be contacted with information about the animal, their history and the type of home that would be a good match for the pet. Then, a virtual meeting will be set up with the pet.
After that, based on preference, the person will either adopt or foster.
“The demand from the community that we need to be here is very, very apparent, so that is why keeping up with our life-saving operations was very, very important to us and our staff,” Knef said.
“We’re very flexible, of course, in this time. We want to make the perfect match for each pet and their family,” Knef told KXAN. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the AHS is averaging 200 to 300 adoptions per month. That amount is doubling the amount of adoptions pre-pandemic.
The pick-up process is contactless as well, and an adopter or foster will not even set foot in the shelter. Staff members prepare adoption paperwork, food and goodies that go home with the pet.
Another 150 animals a month are in foster home, either for a trial adoption period, because they’re recovering from a medical issue, or if they are too young for adoption, and Knef explained that a lot of fosters have helped as well.
“With all of this happening, we knew we had to decrease our capacity for animals that we would have in our shelter at a certain time so that our staff one could remain healthy and two keep up with the quality care that we provide all of our pets while they’re looking for their forever homes,” she said. “We had to talk about a system on how we’re gonna continue to do this but do that as quickly as possible so that as an animal is leaving, we are still able to take in a new animal to fill that spot.”
That is why she said fosters have been so crucial during this time.
“Having the community that is stepping up and supporting this mission and continuing to support our mission is the only way we’re able to continue to do what we’re doing,” Knef said.
We have developed a very safe contactless way for people to still help in the community. We can tell it’s effective and we promise to put your safety first.Katelen Knef, Austin Humane Society Shelter Manager
KXAN is partnering with animal shelters across central Texas and would love to help you find the next furry love of your life. Help us Clear the Shelters.
If you are unable to adopt or foster, please consider making a donation.