SPCA, Humane Society and ARF cope with COVID-19
When the coronavirus first hit, the Dutchess County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals quickly found emergency foster homes for about 100 animals (including 75 cats) to make room for what Executive Director Lynne Meloccaro expected would be an influx of drop-offs as people lost their jobs.
However, adoptions have also been brisk as the shutdown continues, with 38 cats, 10 dogs and four rabbits finding new homes since April 1, she said.
“In animal welfare, there’s always two sides to everything,” Meloccaro said.
It’s an unusual time, even at animal shelters. This year did not see the large number of rabbits that are typically dropped off after Easter, Meloccaro said, because “the holiday was barely celebrated this year.” She does, however, expect a surge of cats in the months ahead. Kitten season lasts through September.
The SPCA facility, which currently has 125 animals, is taking precautions due to the pandemic. A mobile disinfection unit outside the building is used when an animal comes from a home in which someone has tested positive to the virus. Inside, rotating shifts ensure that if a staff member tests positive, only the workers on that shift will need to be quarantined, a step that has not yet been necessary.
The organization has had to cancel its scheduled fundraisers, so “money is tight,” Meloccaro said. The best way to help is to donate at dcspca.org. The site also has forms for adoptions or to become a foster caretaker.
Melocarro urged pet owners to have a plan in case they get sick. “Who will care for the animal?’ she asked.
Putnam Humane Society
The Putnam Humane Society in Carmel is also closed to the public and volunteers due to COVID-19, although adoptions of dogs and cats continue through its website at puthumane.org. It currently has 22 dogs and 25 cats.
President Michele Dugan said once an application is approved, a meet-and-greet is arranged, with visitors wearing face masks and gloves, and practicing social distancing with other humans, she said. The society does not place animals in foster homes.
Dugan said there has been no increase in the number of animals surrendered; it has essentially been business as usual except there have been more dog adoptions. “People feel it’s a good time to adopt,” she said. “They can spend time training and bonding with their new addition.”
She said the staff wears masks and gloves, and the facility is disinfected on a regular basis.
Dugan suggested people donate dog and cat food to local food banks, if they have pet sections. “Times are tough for those not working,” she said. “Helping them feed their pet may mean the difference between keeping it or having to give it up.”
She urged pet owners to do all they can to keep their animals. “Reach out to us to see if there is something we can help with,” she said. “Please do not abandon your pet.”
Animal Rescue Foundation
Adoptions are on hold at the Animal Rescue Foundation, or ARF, in Beacon, but volunteers continue to look after the eight dogs and nearly 60 cats under its care.
“We were lucky to have rescued three dogs just before the state restrictions took effect,” said Caroline Kasterine, a volunteer from Garrison. “There are fewer volunteers in the building now, but everyone has been good at staggering their shifts. Our cats and dogs are happy — they’re receiving extra attention!”
ARF has nearly 60 volunteers who work with the animals and 20 who assist with fundraising and public relations. New volunteers are not being accepted until the facility reopens.
Kasterine thinks people can learn a lot by caring for animals, especially during stressful times. “It’s important to keep positive and keep your commitments through good times and bad,” she said.
ARF does not send animals to foster homes but Kasterine said people can help by making a financial contribution or by donating items on the shelter’s wish list at arfbeacon.org.