Animal rescues

Inside a Changing Industry: Animal Rescues

Rachel Bender found herself painting to get through her forties, but she wanted a companion.

His response was to take in 11 dogs in the past four months. She eventually adopted one: an 8-year-old beagle named Bagels.

The 20-year-old UF psychologist was greeted by Faithful Friends Pet Rescue and Rehoming and the Humane Society of North Central Florida at her Gainesville apartment.

Just as Bender’s loneliness pushed her to adopt a dog, residents of Alachua County have caused an increase in the number of animals being housed in shelters and rescues in the area. However, adoptions remain stagnant in some animal shelters despite the growing trend of foster families and adoptions across the United States.

Host families at the Humane Society of North Central Florida have increased by 100%, wrote Leesha Baumann, the organization’s development coordinator, in an email to The Alligator. All 276 animals in the foster program were sent to homes between March 18 and 21.

Although foster families have increased, adoptions have declined. A year ago, adoptions at the shelter stood at just under 400 animals at that time, according to Baumann. This year, the shelter has only found homes for 300 cats, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits and ferrets since mid-March.

Haile’s Angels Pet Rescue, on the other hand, has seen both an increase in foster care and adoptions. Of the 153 shelter animals in the foster program, 75 percent are in foster homes. In February, just 34% of those pets were placed with families, according to Cassie Wheeler, director of rescue.

Wheeler also said adoption rates in April were up 75% from a year ago, from 33 adoptions to 68.

Despite this, Wheeler said she expects adoption rates to decline as people return to work.

“The reason people have been able to do this and open their homes is because they are at home,” she said. “I think it’s going to decline further just for the simple fact that they don’t have time.”

As the number of animals in the rescue fell to single digits, Wheeler increasingly brought in kennel staff to the office. The employees who worked with the animals are now doing administrative work due to the large decrease in the number of animals on site.

Unlike Wheeler’s rescue, Robin Tjiong, director of the House of the Happy Cats and Dogs Rescue in Levy County, said more and more people are offering to take them in, but adoption rates remain slow compared at large shelters. However, she said she generally didn’t have high adoption rates to her rescue.

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Last year, six cats were adopted in March and six in April. This year, five were adopted in March and eight in April. She said there had been no noticeable change in adoptions due to the scale of her rescue.

Sam Kephart, a 19-year-old sophomore UF criminology student, welcomed six kittens from House of the Happy Cats and Dog Rescue last month. While she said some people are ready to welcome or adopt due to the amount of attention a new pet needs, she also said there are others who are not. not.

“Some people, in some cases, probably shouldn’t do this because they’re bored and want a pet,” she said. “I know a lot of people adopt or buy animals on impulse. “

Although people seem more interested in rescuing animals than in previous years, the Levy County Rescue is struggling to find families to accommodate the cats and dogs, Kephart said. She believes this is happening because the organization is less well known than other animal shelters in the area.

While COVID-19 did not affect adoption rates at the rescue, it did impact the amount of money Tjiong receives from PetSmart in readiness grants.

Tjiong said PetSmart hosts the National Adoption Weekend four times a year. Meanwhile, animal shelters and rescues receive grants based on the number of animals brought to the event. The director said the June event has been canceled.

“It’s $ 2,000 that I won’t get,” she said. “For a group like mine, it’s hurtful.

She said she used the money to sterilize and sterilize her cats and dogs and get them vaccinated.

Tjiong meets people who want to welcome or adopt their pets in person. She said she continued to interact in person with those interested in adoption or placement because it was integral to her rescue, but the way she organized those meetings changed.

The owner takes a series of precautions while maintaining face-to-face interaction. Instead of meeting with families and groups, she interacts with one person at a time and asks where the person has been. She also said she always wears a mask and occasionally meets potential owners at PetSmart rather than rescue as an added precaution.

Tjiong believes that increasing adoption rates in the country will open more people to the idea of ​​taking in animals in need.

“In some ways it’s been good because people have seen how easy it is because they have more time, and I think they’re now saying, ‘It’s a cinch.’ “she said.

The Humane Society approached meetings in a different way. Rather than opening the shelter for adoptions, which the organization usually does, Baumann wrote that meetups and greetings are available by appointment every day of the week. The adoption application and the administrative formalities must be completed online.

Although the shelter has not let volunteers in in the past two months due to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the director wrote that the volunteers have found other activities to do in the meantime. Many sewed face covers, delivered masks to society donors, and assembled cat carriers.

As animal shelter managers contemplate life after quarantine, Baumann wrote that she hopes adoption events pick up soon and placement rates continue to rise.

“Over the past three months we’ve seen an incredible wave of community support,” she wrote. “We are incredibly grateful.”

Contact Hannah at [email protected] Follow her on twitter @hannahbobek.

Rachel Bender has taken in 11 dogs in the past four months, but eventually adopted one: an 8-year-old beagle named Bagels.

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